Text and images: Rick Kiewiet
BMW has decided to stop their contribution to the World Endurance Championship at the end of the current Super Season. As part of the corporate "Number One > Next" strategy, more focus is applied to key markets for BMW: Formula E, to keep up with trends towards e-mobility, DTM, as the most popular series in BMW's home market, Europe, but with the adoption of the new rulebook also Asia, and IMSA in the USA as the most important market for BMW M-models. In their press release the Bavarians also confirm the introduction a new GT3 customer model in the near future.
Since their entry in the WEC, the M8 GTE showed it's potential. At the beginning of the season, two new models were introduced in the championship: the new Aston Martin Vantage and the M8. The M8 immediately showed sufficient pace to at least keep up with Ferrari and Aston, even though the car was sufficiently larger than it's competitors. At Paul Ricard, the fastest M8 was already faster than the fastest Aston.
At their first race, Tom Blomqvist and Antonio Felix da Costa qualified the no. 82 car 5th on the grid, thereby beating both the Ferrari's and the Aston Martins. This was also their position at the finish.
Le Mans 2018 was a difficult race for debutantes MTEK. After already qualifying outside the top-10 and suffering a couple of setbacks during the race neither one of the cars managed to finish in the top-10.
Arriving in Asia, after a difficult 6 hours of Silverstone, it went better. Blomqvist and Da Costa managed to qualify the #82 car on the first row, missing Pole Position by 0.182s. In they race they scored the M8s first podium position with a second place. In Shanghai, the #81 with Catsburg and Tomczyk at the wheel, again managed to qualify an M8 on p2 on the grid. The race was one to forget for the team, with neither of the cars being able to compete for victory
In Sebring the #81 car scored the second podium finish, only the Porsche 911 of Richard Lietz and Gimmi Bruni managed to beat Catsburg, Tomczyk and third driver Alex Sims. The last rainy, snowy race in Spa, the best BMW finished 4th.
The upcoming 2019 24 hours of Le Mans will be BMW's last race for now. No mentions of a customer programme to run the cars has been spotted (yet)...