Is BMW returning to Le Mans in 2023?

It’s building a Le Mans-worthy car, at the very least
by Tom Harrison | Jun 15, 2021
PHOTO: TopGear.com
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Le Mans 2023 is shaping up to be pretty-darn spectacular, with the likes of Ferrari, Peugeot, Toyota, Porsche, and Audi all signed up to race. And BMW could be next. Maybe. Possibly. Hopefully.

Munich has just announced that, starting in 2023, it will compete in North America’s IMSA series with an LMDh-spec prototype. But so far it’s said nothing about the WEC or Le Mans.

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Allow us to explain. Besides IMSA, LMDh-type cars are also eligible to race in the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24hrs alongside the techy ‘Le Mans Hypercars’ (LMH). The reason Porsche and Audi are doing LMDh cars versus LMH—like Ferrari, Peugeot and Toyota—is cost. LMH cars are limited to the WEC, whereas going down the LMDh route effectively grants you entry into multiple series with one car.

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It’s a very cost-effective way of going racing. A two-for-one deal, if you like. Especially as the cars themselves have to use one of four pre-approved LMP2 chassis and a spec hybrid system (married to a constructor’s own combustion engine), meaning development costs are relatively low. Indeed, BMW M boss Markus Flasch says “the LMDh concept guarantees maximum cost control and offers a wide range of possible applications.”

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But while Audi and Porsche have both confirmed they’ll run both IMSA and WEC (including Le Mans) programs with their LMDh prototypes, BMW hasn’t.

Despite Flasch saying BMW is “fulfilling the prerequisites to challenge for overall victory at the most iconic endurance races in the world from 2023,” it’s still unclear whether the yet-to-be-seen prototype racer will ever venture outside North America.

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BMW has only raced in GT categories at Le Mans for the last few years. It’s won Le Mans outright just once, in 1999 with the short-lived but tremendous V12 LMR (pictured). Here’s to hoping it sees the light, and books its place on the grid for Le Mans ’23.

NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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