BMW could scale back IMSA GTLM programme to four endurance races – IMSA SportsCar

by Nov 9, 20200 comments

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BMW could scale back its involvement in the IMSA SportsCar Championship next year to just the four long distance races as questions continue over the future of the GTLM class.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-run M8 GTEs are one of three full-time GTLM participants along with Corvette and Porsche in 2020, but the latter’s impending withdrawal at the end of this season has given BMW cause to consider its future in the category too.

Earlier this year, outgoing BMW motorsport boss Jens Marquardt suggested that a two-way battle against just the factory Corvette C8.Rs would not be of interest.

It has now emerged that following the termination of BMW’s World Endurance Championship GTE-Pro assault last year, it could also reduce its IMSA commitment to the Daytona 24 Hours, the Sebring 12 Hours, Watkins Glen 6 Hours and 10-hour Petit Le Mans race that make up the Michelin Endurance Cup.

That would leave Corvette as the only GTLM manufacturer committed to the full schedule.

Asked by Autosport about the prospect of BMW contesting just the enduros in 2021, Marquardt said: “I cannot not rule it out, but obviously it is something we are discussing at the moment with our colleagues in the US.

“As you know COVID has definitely had a fairly big impact on all of us and also on the budgets.

“And we need to see how the set-up is next year, is it just Corvette and us running there or are there other competitors, the overall package, and then make a decision on that.

“I know that Daytona is just around the corner, so we are already in November, end of January is right here.

“But as we all know this year has been shifted by at least two months backwards. I mean, we are still racing in the US, Sebring is still coming up.

“So a lot of the decisions we would have had normally looked into earlier in the year have sort of been postponed and we are still discussing in that respect.

“I would expect in the next three, four weeks we should be clear what exactly the package in the US will look like.

“But for sure we will be at the Roar [Before the 24 Test] and Daytona.”

BMW won the 24 race for a second year in a row at the start of the season, but it has only picked up one further win since the campaign restarted during September’s six-hour Road Atlanta race.

It heads into this weekend’s season-concluding Sebring 12 Hours second in the manufacturers’ race behind Corvette, but with the American marque only needing to start the Florida classic with one of its two cars to put that prize beyond reach.

Corvette pair Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia wrapped up the drivers’ championship with a round to spare last time out at Laguna Seca.

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