BMW will make a return to top-level sports car racing in the new LMDh prototype class in 2023.
The Munich firm took victory at Le Mans with the V12 LMR prototype in 1999 and has been contemplating a return. The move was confirmed by BMW M boss Markus Flasch with a post on Instagram showing an image of that car captioned: “We are back, Daytona 2023.”
Flasch later added, in an official confirmation: “In entering the LMDh class, BMW M Motorsport is fulfilling the prerequisites to challenge for overall victory at the most iconic endurance races in the world from 2023. We will be fully focussed on tackling this challenge.
“There is a spirit of optimism here. BMW has a successful history in prototype racing – the Le Mans victory in 1999 was unforgettable. Reviving this story in a modern prototype with M Power will thrill fans of BMW M Motorsport.”
The move will allow BMW to compete in the high-profile IMSA series in North America – one of the biggest global markets for its M performance brand.
The new LMDh class is loosely based on LMP2 machinery. Under those rules, manufacturers must pick one of four control chassis and use a spec rear-axle hybrid system, although they can fit their own bodywork styling elements and rear-drive powertrain. Output is capped at 670bhp.
Porsche, Audi and Acura have all confirmed they will enter the LMDh class, which will be eligible for both the American IMSA Championship that includes the Daytona 24 Hours and the World Endurance Championship. That latter championship includes Le Mans and also features cars in the Le Mans Hypercar class, including Toyota, Peugeot and Ferrari.
BMW did not specify if it would run dual programmes in IMSA and the WEC, or offer its cars to privateers.
BMW has been considering future motorsport projects after confirming that it would withdraw from the Formula E Championship at the end of this season.