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FIA WEC at Imola, IMSA at Long Beach: BMW M Hybrid V8 faces an eventful double-header weekend.

Four BMW M Hybrid V8s, two continents. The BMW M Motorsport LMDh prototypes are facing an intense racing weekend. While BMW M Team WRT competes at Imola (ITA) with two Hypercars in the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) for the second race of the season, BMW M Team RLL is aiming for the season’s first podium in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IMSA series) at Long Beach (USA).

FIA WEC
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BMW M Motorsport
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LMDh
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IMSA Series
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GT Racing
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Customer Racing
 

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Imola/Long Beach. Four BMW M Hybrid V8s, two continents. The BMW M Motorsport LMDh prototypes are facing an intense racing weekend. While BMW M Team WRT competes at Imola (ITA) with two Hypercars in the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) for the second race of the season, BMW M Team RLL is aiming for the season’s first podium in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IMSA series) at Long Beach (USA). The BMW M4 GT3 is targeting the podium in both Italy and California.

 

FIA WEC: BMW M Team WRT competes at Imola.

At the 6 Hours of Imola, the FIA WEC is making its first European stop this year. BMW M Motorsport engineers and BMW M Team WRT have analysed the challenging season opener in Qatar with the two BMW M Hybrid V8s over the past weeks and have worked intensively to improve the car. Behind the wheel of car #15 are Raffaele Marciello (SUI), Dries Vanthoor (BEL), and Marco Wittmann (GER). The sister car, the #20 BMW M Hybrid V8, is shared by Robin Frijns (NED), René Rast (GER), and Sheldon van der Linde (RSA).

 

In the LMGT3 class, Team WRT made a strong impression in Qatar, with the #46 BMW M4 GT3 narrowly missing the podium at the opener. At Imola, the crew will be carried by a special tailwind; Valentino Rossi (ITA) starts his home race, with the Imola track being less than two hours’ drive from his birthplace Urbino (ITA). The 45-year-old Italian will join Ahmad Al Harthy (OMA) and BMW M works driver Maxime Martin (BEL) for the 6 Hours of Imola. Driven by numerous Tifosi expected along the track, the local hero and his team-mates are aiming for a podium finish. In the sister car, the #31 BMW M4 GT3, BMW M works driver Augusto Farfus (BRA), Sean Gelael (INA), and Darren Leung (GBR) will take turns.

 

The Imola race starts on Sunday at 13:00 CEST.

 

IMSA series: Street circuit at Long Beach as a good omen.

Two BMW M Hybrid V8s are also required in the IMSA series this coming weekend. BMW M Team RLL starts with good memories on the Long Beach street circuit. Last year, Connor De Phillippi (USA) and Nick Yelloly (GBR) celebrated second place on the podium in the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8. Philipp Eng (AUT) and Augusto Farfus (BRA) completed the strong team result in the GTP class with a fourth place.

 

With the momentum from 2023 results, the team and drivers want to underline the strong performance of the BMW M Hybrid V8 from the first two weekends of the current year and finally reward themselves with the first podium in the third race of the IMSA season. As last year, De Phillippi and Yelloly start in the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8. Eng shares the sister #24 car this year with Jesse Krohn (FIN).

 

In the GTD class, BMW M Motorsport teams also look back on an impressive history at Long Beach. Paul Miller Racing triumphed last year with the #1 BMW M4 GT3. In 2024, Turner Motorsport sends a BMW M4 GT3 onto the 3.167-kilometre track. BMW M works driver Robby Foley and Patrick Gallagher (both USA) enter the 100-minute sprint race with car #96. The shortest race of the season – alongside the Detroit Grand Prix – starts on Saturday at 16:35 local time (22:35 CEST).

 

Statement before the races at Imola and Long Beach:

 

Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “We are facing the first race weekend where we are competing with the BMW M Hybrid V8 at two major events on two continents simultaneously. We are competing on the biggest stages of prototype racing against top-notch competition. It’s spectacular and exactly the challenge we’ve been looking forward to since BMW M Motorsport’s entry into the LMDh category was confirmed. At the FIA WEC opener in Qatar, we realised that we need to improve significantly to compete at the level we expect of ourselves in the world championship. We have worked hard over the past weeks and expect to be able to make the first progress at Imola. In the IMSA series, we experienced one of our strongest races at Long Beach in 2023. With second and fourth places, we were very close to our first victory with the BMW M Hybrid V8. Now we hope that we can fight for the lead again this time and thus convert the speed we have already shown at Daytona and Sebring into top results. Both in the FIA WEC and in the IMSA series, we are also very well positioned with the BMW M4 GT3. I expect our teams to have a chance of winning in both racing series.”

 

Marco Wittmann (BMW M Team WRT, #15 BMW M Hybrid V8): “I am really looking forward to competing in the FIA WEC again this weekend. Italy is a beautiful country. I like the ambiance, the food, and the people – so I’m really looking forward to it. Imola is a very historic racetrack that I know from DTM. In 2022, I made it to the podium there, so I have good memories. We have conducted some tests and simulator sessions since the opener in Qatar and hopefully will make a step forward.”

 

Maxime Martin (Team WRT, #46 BMW M4 GT3): “It will be a special weekend for us because it’s Valentino's home race in the FIA WEC. I therefore expect it to be very crowded, and I anticipate many spectators with high expectations at the track. Our first race in Qatar was really solid with a fourth-place finish. We will try to improve our package and aim for the podium. That would be a good result, also in terms of the world championship. I know the track and am confident that Ahmad, Valentino, and I will be competitive. I’m really looking forward to it.”

 

Philipp Eng (BMW M Team RLL, #24 BMW M Hybrid V8): “I am really looking forward to the race at Long Beach. It’s a very cool track for the first sprint race of the season. Last year we had a strong race here. We have developed the car in a good direction, and the result of the 12h Sebring did not fully reflect our performance. We have made some adjustments, and I am confident that we can achieve a top result.”

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