BMW are the new manufacturers to the FIA World Endurance Championship this season, bringing two M8 GTEs to the LM GTE Pro field. The two cars, #81 and #82, covered 5,075 kilometres over the 30-hour long Prologue, with duty being split between the seven works drivers.
Works drivers confirmed to be taking part in the full WEC season, Nick Catsburg, Martin Tomczyk, Antonio Felix da Costa and Alexander Sims were joined by other BMW works drivers Tom Blomqvist, Philipp Eng and Augusto Farfus for the Prologue.
BMW focused on race simulations during the Prologue, showing the progress they have made on the car ahead of the new season. For the car to be running successful race simulations in its first official test, it is a great starting point for the new team on the grid.
Team Principal, Ernest Knoors, was happy with how the test had gone and is looking forward to the start of the season at the beginning of next month: the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. “We’re happy to get closer to the real start of the FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season,” Knoors said. “As we have put in a lot of hard work and effort to get to this point. There are some very positive things to take away but we also have lots to do ahead of Spa. We have a busy few weeks.”
“It was the first time for us to hit the track in the FIA World Endurance Championship with all of the competitors and set-up as we would go to into a race weekend.” Tomczyk said, full season driver of the #81, on first reflections of the car. “It is useful to have such an official test and get used to the procedures. We worked through the full programme, including race simulations, and I hope we are now prepared for the season-opener.”
His full season team mate, Catsburg, added: “It was a very successful test but it’s hard to judge where we are we. The car is running like clockwork and I’m really looking forward to my first FIA World Endurance Championship event.”
Eng is expected to join the #81 team for the 24-hour race in Le Mans. He is also likely to join the team in Spa as this race is usually used for teams to prepare for the blue-ribboned event in June.
“It was an important test for all of us because it was the first time we were facing our direct competition in the FIA World Endurance Championship.” He explained “It was also good to go through all of the operations and develop our strategies. It was, in that respect, a more serious test than previously when we were running alone.”
Farfus is the driver lined up to join the #82 team for Le Mans,“The test has been very positive. Once again, we managed to get some good kilometres. It was the first time that we have had the full FIA World Endurance Championship line-up of car number 82 test together. I therefore think the highlight has been that we all share the same opinion and feedback of the car, which will allow us to work well together this season.”
“It’s great to finally get the FIA World Endurance Championship season started.” Full season#82 driver Felix da Costa enthused. “This project has been a long time in the making and it’s good to finally see the BMW M8 GTE hitting the track with all of our competitors. Next time on track is in the Six Hours of Spa and I can’t wait to get back out there and go racing.”
Felix da Costa’s full season team mate, Sims, was happy with how much BMW were able to cover in the 30-hour Prologue and explained how the team know what they need to work on before the first race of the season. “We were able to complete our quite extensive and ambitious test programme, which is always nice. The car ran for a good distance and I found it very useful from a driver point of view to understand the Michelin tyres before we head to Spa-Francorchamps.”