One of the four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) teams testing at Daytona International Speedway this week is BMW Team RLL.
Two of the team’s drivers were on hand, returning BMW driver John Edwards alongside Connor de Phillippi, who joins the team after competing with Land Motorsport for two seasons.
The upcoming WeatherTech Championship season marks Edwards’ six with BMW. While he has three victories to his name with the team, he is still searching for his first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory after recording a career-best fourth place three times.
The two-day test also allows a first look at the new BMW M8 GTLM, which was unveiled in September at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show as the successor to the M6 GTLM.
“This is the third car I’ve been able to be a part of the development on with BMW and I have to say it’s the most exciting,” Edwards said. “The M8 is everything from the M6 that we liked, and improved on the things we didn’t like. It has a lot of promise. The whole team is learning the car together, drivers included. I love the car so far, and compared to where the M6 was in December on its rollout, I think we’re miles above where we were.”
It was less than a week ago that BMW announced Edwards and de Phillippi as part of the team’s full-time driver lineup for 2018.
De Phillippi is on the heels of a victory at the season-ending Petit Le Mans in October, only the third race he entered during the 2017 WeatherTech Championship season. However, the victory came in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, and the step up to the GTLM class will put the California-native in arguably the toughest class of sports car racing in the world.
As one of his teammates, Edwards feels strongly though that BMW Team RLL could be on its way to a victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona this upcoming January.
“The GTLM class is a very competitive category because it’s manufacturers pitted against other manufacturers and it’s all professional lineups,” Edwards said. “You can see the competition level is fierce from the end of the race at Daytona, all the way to the end of the race at Petit. Everyone has to be up to speed and you have to get the maximum performance out of your car. Considering the baseline we have today, I think we have a car that can fight for the win in the Rolex 24.”