While the story in GTE-Pro proved to be that of Ford against Porsche, it was a less than enthusiastic 24 Hours of Le Mans for the BMW Motorsport crew with only one of their cars making the finish.
Going into Saturday, the BMW Team MTEK cars had qualified twelfth and thirteenth in class, just ahead of the GTE-Am polesitter. After a frantic opening few laps, the cars continued to circulate in the top ten until a crash for the #82 in the early hours of Sunday put an end to their run.
“Our return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans turned out to be an emotional rollercoaster.” started BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt.
“First, it was great to see that were able to battle it out at the very front of the fiercely fought GTE Pro class in terms of pace. Our drivers were involved in plenty of gripping duels with the competition and were even running in second place for some of the race.”
With the #81 forced to fix a radiator due to stray debris, neither BMW was in contention come the flag. The race did mark BMW’s first Le Mans GTE-Pro entry since the creation of the FIA World Endurance Championship as the team now look to the season ahead.
“A podium seemed to be in reach but, unfortunately, technical issues and an accident cost us the chance to be rewarded for all the hard work in the build-up to this event. However, the positives outweigh the negatives: We were able to prove the full potential of our new car … [and] give extra motivation to come back here even stronger for the Super Season finale in 2019.”
It would be Alexander Sims who ended the #82’s day early. A loss of grip through the Porsche curves saw the car get loose with Sims barreling across the gravel. After hitting the inside wall, he then bounced across the track backwards hitting the SAFER barriers on the outside of the corner backwards.
He continued back to the pits, but their day was over. As for the #81, they crossed the line twelfth in class, behind six GTE-Am cars.
“We are at the end of three weeks and 24 hours of highs and lows,” said Team Principal Ernest Knoors. “The first few hours of the race were fantastic. Just to get through it and survive and then to be competitive was very good reward for our team and drivers for two years of hard work.
“But, then Le Mans happens and it’s tough. We can be very proud of what we achieved.”