BMW announced that a decision on their participation in the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship had yet to be confirmed, and would not be decided until the end of the season at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
BMW Team MTEK became the fifth manufacturer in the WEC’s LM GTE Pro class for the start of the series’ superseason and has had mixed fortune in the class, currently sitting bottom of the manufacturers and drivers’ championships. On the other side of the pond, however, the team has been relishing in success in IMSA‘s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with their most recent victory coming at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The German manufacturer seemed content to be racing in WEC, as at the last event (6 Hours of Shanghai in November) motorsport boss Jens Marquardt stated to Autosport that BMW was “in exactly the right spot” with it’s GTE programme. The manufacturer even ruled out joining WEC’s new ‘Hypercar’ class in 2020 in favour of staying in the GTE class where it makes most commercial sense and they could continue to race against their road cars’ fiercest competition.
“There are still a lot of things we have to look in to in WEC, we definitely haven’t extracted the maximum performance from our package,” Marquardt said to Autosport at the 12 Hour of Barthusrt . “That’s what we’ll focus on with the remaining races. “Once we’ve wrapped up everything, that’s when we’re going to sit down and assess and see where we go in the future.
“For us, the fortunate situation we have that every year with all of the series is that we do the last race and then sit together and decide how we go forward.
“We don’t have to do any development or anything. The car is there, the team is there, so it’s easy for us.”
However, there seems there could be some debate about the entire BMW GTE programme. BMW have only committed to IMSA’s GTE class until the end of 2019, and confirmation of further participation with their M8 GTE in the American series is yet to be confirmed.
It is certainly a turning point for the manufacturer, as they have also expressed they may shed their M8 GTE and look at stepping up to IMSA’s DPi class for 2020. The DPis are not yet able to race in any other series, so if BMW focuses it’s racing budget and resources into DPi it is a no brainer that their GTE programme will disappear as a consequence.
“We’ll race until Petit Le Mans [in October] and then sit down [to decide] afterwards.” Marquardt said on the subject.
BMW is not the only manufacturer who is looking beyound the GTE class in WEC. Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK has also not confirmed participation in the 2019/20 season, with a spokesperson saying nothing but “there’s nothing to announce at the moment on our plans beyond the end of the superseason” when asked of Ford‘s future plans.
Ford have also expressed interest in moving to the DPi class of IMSA and are looking at the new ‘Hypercars’ in WEC. This evolution of their programme, again, could result in the loss of their GTE racing teams.
If both Ford and BMW do leave the WEC, this would leave just three manufacturers in the LM GTE Pro class. This time last year, WEC stated that many new manufacturers were interested in the Pro class, and this may be the time for WEC to start pushing hard to get them involved, or another class may be in trouble.
With the two highest profile classes potentially producing poor races, the WEC could be in danger.