As the newest member of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s LMDh club, BMW is only a few weeks into planning for its 2023 debut in IMSA’s next-generation hybrid prototype class. Despite being in the midst of the earliest planning stages BMW Motorsport boss Mike Krack took the opportunity to answer a few questions in a roundtable discussion at Watkins Glen.
“In terms of teams or drivers, it is much too early; we had confirmation of the program only couple of weeks ago,” Krack said. “So we had done obviously some technical investigations before that [announcement] date. We know what engine we’re going to [use], we know which [chassis] constructor we’re going to work with. And then the program is focused around the IMSA championship because we want to have this for our biggest market, which is the US. So this is the primary focus on that the main reason why we decided to go to IMSA.”
BMW is believed to have signed with Dallara to manufacture its LMDh chassis, and for teams, both of the brand’s current U.S.-based partners in Andretti Autosport and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing are known to be among the interested parties to field its prototype effort.
Krack hopes to have the first LMDh model on track and testing by the middle of 2022.
“We will try to be on track by mid-year, next year,” he confirmed. “So this will leave not what we would ideally want to have [for time]. Yeah, but I think it is sufficient, because we do not want to do testing in Europe, testing in the US testing. So I think our focused approach will help us to cover with this or to recover with this time that maybe you would lose if you do two different programs, with different teams or customers. So I think we do approach we have I think the time we have is sufficient.
Where some of BMW’s LMDh rivals are expected to support a significant amount of customer programs, Krack isn’t sure if that’s where his program will head.
“We have not made a final decision on if we will go with customers,” he said. “If we see how this develops, we want to keep the flexibility to offer it. If it’s more of a distraction, we will be more conservative.”
With IMSA winding down its GT Le Mans class at the end of the year, factories like BMW are expected to embrace its replacement, GTD Pro, where GT3-based cars will be campaigned. It will be interesting to find out whether BMW continues in GTD Pro once its LMDh program comes online.
“What I can say is that in ‘22, we’re trying to do GTD Pro and in ‘23, we will be in LMDh,” he added. “If we will be also in GTD or GTD Pro, I cannot say that. So this has not really been a big focus. But in any case, next year, we’re trying to do GTD Pro, because we have this new car that we also want to want to show and the LMDh program has been confirmed. So these two things we are trying to do. But any parallel activities, we have not on the radar right at the moment.”
Krack was clear on not maintaining its factory-only approach to GT racing in IMSA, which means it will not support the new M4 GT3 outside of the Pro-Am GT Daytona class designed for privateers.
“Well, that’s the basic idea of GTD Pro,” he said. “We will not race our customers. We have always said that. So if we do it, it will be with a factory approach.”
BMW’s edict would seem to rule out future sales of customer LMDhs, but Krack offered a twist to close the topic.
“Yes, yes, this is true,” he said. “But we haven’t said we will do LMDh forever with a factory approach.”