BMW hasn’t raced for overall victory in the prototype class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since they won with the V12 LMR in 1999, but according to an Autosport interview with former BMW Motorsport boss Mike Krack, BMW is thinking about going back with the LMDh prototype in 2024.
BMW is developing the LMDh prototype for entry in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship in 2023, but that car would also be eligible to compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is on the WEC schedule. A Le Mans entry would also likely mean that BMW would compete in the WEC championship, as the FIA may require participation in at least a partial season in order to compete at Le Mans.
While IMSA in 2023 is the priority right now, Krack told Autosport that they’re already talking with the ACO (the sanctioning body for the Le Mans race). “In the coming months we are going through the strategy: what is the next step and what happens after 2023?” he said. “If you are looking at a Le Mans program, you need to discuss it with the ACO and commit to a certain duration. There is no final decision, but time is running.”
Krack also said that BMW hopes to have customer programs with the LMDh car in both IMSA and the WEC, which is a change in strategy for BMW Motorsport, which typically doesn’t offer customer race cars for the top class in which they are racing. “With the thinking behind the LMDh model, it is really not right if you only go as a factory,” he told Autosport. “Obviously you need interested parties and you need to find agreements, but we would be really happy if we could do that.”
The BMW LMDh prototype is scheduled to run for the first time in mid-July. The Krack interview with Autosport took place before he left BMW to join the Aston Martin Formula 1 team, so it’s not clear what, if any, change in the LMDh strategy will take place with new BMW Motorsport boss Andreas Roos. However, Roos does have previous experience with Audi’s dominant prototype program before coming to BMW.—David Haueter
[Photo courtesy BMW Motorsport.]