BMW M8 GTE
BMW M…hang on. BMW has graced the motorsport world with, to be modest, some track devouring machines and they are back on track. The 8 Series badge has been resuscitated and has undergone some extensive metal and carbon surgery to give us the new BMW M8 GTE, unveiled at the IAA (Frankfurt International Motor Show). Rolled out on the first of July 2017, the M8 GTE is the latest precision scalpel to roll out of BMW’s M Division.
Firstly, a bit of nostalgia. The Circuit de la Sarthe has been hosting tortured tyres annually since 1923. Le Mans is known as the most prestigious endurance race on the calendar. BMW motorsport dipped its toe into the pond of Le Mans as victors in class in 1939 and came fifth overall, with the BMW 328 powering the drivers along the gruelling and fast track. Ever since, BMW has obtained numerous accolades racing at Le Mans – ’73 saw the BMW 3.0 CSL (E9) power to a class victory. 1999 saw BMW surging to their maiden overall victory with the BMW V12 LMR, boasting a chassis developed by WilliamsF1 and the BMW S70/3 5990 cc V12 as retained from the BMW V12 LM.
The thing about motorsport is that getting one’s head around the precision, planning and technology involved in the development of a race car like the M8 GTE is simply impossible.
BMW has gone to great lengths with the M8 GTE to make this concept of racing even more difficult to comprehend. For example: BMW is using a principle called “virtual development” where the traction control system (the system that keeps you on the road when you feel like Ken Block) is being developed with the assistance of an artificial intelligence system (something similar to “skynet” in Terminator). 3D printing and “Rapid prototyping” makes it possible to produce a usable prototype part within 24 hours. 3D measurement tools are also being implemented for precise reassembly of the exterior that consists of CFRP components (Carbon fibre reinforced plastics) that help with keeping the weight down to 1 220 kilograms.
The car looks absolutely jaw dropping when stationary, but at some point it is going to have to compete in a race and the package consisting of the engine and aerodynamics will come into play. In true BMW fashion, no IT worker was spared. An algorithm was developed to aid in CFD calculations (Calculations and numbers on how air moves over, around and under the car) which increases the number of possible simulations before moving to the wind tunnel. The result of all of this collaboration – late nights, 30 cups of coffee daily and aero rims. Every tenth of a second counts.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the drivetrain and engine. In the engine bay of the M8 GTE lives a 4.0-litre V8 with two turbochargers for company (Also called BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology). With racing restrictions and regulations of late, the engine is restricted to 4.0 litres but has a base horsepower output in excess of 500 horsepower – thank you Al Gore. The V8 is teamed up with a 6-speed sequential gearbox and a Sachs carbon-fibre clutch. There are rumours that the production model, with BMW’s already familiar 4.4 litre V8, will pack the punch of 600 Bavarian stallions.
To keep the driver pointing in the right direction, the M8 GTE makes use of 30/68 R18 tyres on the front axle and 31/71 R18 tyres on the rear axle, provided by Michelin.
The transition from track to road has always been a road littered with obstacles, but a new course of action is being taken by BMW. We can expect to see the 8 Series on the road by late 2018 to early 2019 and having said this, the BMW M8 GTE has already competed in numerous outings in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportCar Championship in North America with all the knowledge gained being incorporated into the production model. With the expected launch date estimated at late 2018 to early 2019 the amount of development that can be made on the production model through the workings of the M8 GTE is endless. Indeed a very exciting prospect.
The M8 GTE is unquestionably a marvellous machine to behold and a technical master class. We will be waiting with bated breath for the launch of the production model and will be biting our nails on race day whilst the BMW M8 GTE makes its way around the boxing ring called Le Mans.