BMW Motorsport has confirmed BMW Team RLL will continue into 2018, with testing and development of BMW’s new M8 GTE ramping up ahead of the new GTE-spec car’s race debut at the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
BMW Team RLL engineers and technicians are at BMW Motorsport’s Munich base this week preparing the build of the first U.S. bound-M8 GTE, which will make its first IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway in December, which is open to Prototype and GT Le Mans class machinery. The first car will arrive at the team’s Hilliard, Ohio headquarters in late November and will undergo private testing once it arrives.
The bid for renewal was up this year with other teams understood to have placed bids for the BMW contract, but ultimately the German manufacturer continues with RLL for the latest new car. Bobby Rahal told NBC Sports in July a BMW renewal was something they were targeting, and focused on completing.
This sees the extension of the contract reach a decade, and the M8 GTE follows past builds and developments of the BMW M3 GT, BMW Z4 GTE and BMW M6 GTLM.
“Coming off one of our most successful years together with BMW, I am very pleased that we will continue to work together in the years to come to gain more victories and championships for BMW. This has been a tremendous, long-term relationship that started in 2009 and we are very honored and privileged to represent BMW on the race tracks of North America. An enhanced RLL organization for 2018 will no doubt help in the development and running of the new BMW M8 GTE, which surely is one of the most exciting new cars of 2018.” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal.
Victor Leleu, BMW of North America Motorsport Manager, added: “The BMW M8 GTE will begin another chapter for BMW Team RLL and we are excited to start testing. Bobby’s team has helped make the M3, Z4 and M6 winners against the best GT competition in the world and we have no doubt that the M8 GTE will follow the same course. As evidenced by our four victories with the M6 GTLM this season and especially the Petit Le Mans win, BMW Team RLL – like good wine – gets better with age.”
The M6 GTLM won four races in its final season in 2017 in IMSA, including the last two of the year and with Bill Auberlen having won in his 400th BMW race at Motul Petit Le Mans. Since 2009, the team has totaled 17 GT class wins among 68 total podium finishes.
BMW’s additional 2018 motorsport plans will get revealed at its annual season review banquet, to be held December 15.
Additionally, the team has confirmed Brandon Fry, formerly Max Chilton’s engineer with Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar, as its new technical/racing operations director of the sports car program. That release is below:
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that veteran engineer Brandon Fry has joined the team as technical and racing operations director of the team’s sports car program. Fry has over 20 years of professional racing experience and was most recently race engineer for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Indy car program with Max Chilton.
“I’m really pleased that Brandon chose to join our team as technical and racing operations director,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “His history of success speaks for itself and I know that he will provide great value to our organization going forward.”
“I was really excited when Bobby called and offered me this opportunity to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” said Brandon Fry. “The team has a history of success and I’m looking forward to working with BMW Team RLL as the new BMW M8 GTE is launched for the 2018 IMSA season.”