During its traditional end-of-season soirée, BMW announced its sporting plans for next year, confirming its return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMGTE Pro class with two M8 GTEs, and revealed the names of the drivers set to compete at the 2018 and 2019 editions.
Of the seven drivers who will compete for BMW at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, only three have already participated in the race before: Brazilian Augusto Farfus, already present with BMW in 2010 and 2011, Austrian Philipp Eng in Dempsey-Proton Racing's Porsche 911 RSR (eighth in the LMGTE Pro class in 2016) and Brit Alexander Sims in the Lola de Status Grand Prix in 2012 (retirement). However, nothing is written in stone for the last two, winners at the 24 Hours of Spa in 2016 with BMW, as just six drivers will be hired and only Augusto Farfus will represent the Bavarian marque in the full 2018/2019 Super Season of the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) that will come to a close after the 2019 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Brazilian will be accompanied at all the rounds by Dutch driver Nick Catsburg (winner at the 24 Hours of Spa in 2015), Portuguese driver António Félix da Costa who competed in the 2014 season of DTM (the German touring car championship) with the MTEK team set to run the two M8 GTE in the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) and German driver Martin Tomczyk, DTM champion in 2011 with Audi. The four regular members will be supported by Philipp Eng, Tom Blomqvist and Alexanders Sims for certain races.
Sims will cross the Atlantic several times in 2018 as he has been chosen to take the wheel of one of the two M8 GTEs to be fielded by BMW Team RLL (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) in the GTLM class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship along with American drivers John Edwards and Connor de Phillippi, as well as junior Finnish driver Jesse Krohn. For long races, the four drivers will be joined by Augusto Farfus, Nick Catsburg, with quite the loaded schedule, Philipp Eng and veteran driver Bill Auberlen, now an ambassador for the German manufacturer.
Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director: "The drivers in our WEC squad have been intensely involved in the development work on the BMW M8 GTE from the outset. The combination of GT experience and race talent means we are ideally positioned to achieve good results in our first season in uncharted territory."
The first race for the new BMW M8 GTE is the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 27th and 28th in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, then on to the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 5th in the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC).
Quotation from BMW Motorsport website.
PHOTO (Copyright - Andreas Beil/BMW): The seven drivers, accompanied by Jens Marquardt, brought on to compete at the 2018 and 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans, with from right to left, Alexander Sims, Philipp Eng, Nick Catsburg, António Félix da Costa, Martin Tomczyk, Augusto Farfus and Tom Blomqvist.