December 3, 2020

BMW could scale back to just IMSA enduros in 2021

The German manufacturer is one of three full-time participants in IMSA’s GT Le Mans class along with Corvette and Porsche, but the impending withdrawal of Porsche at the end of the season has raised serious questions about the future of the category.

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, hoping that IMSA would find a way to encourage more participants in the class.

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But now it has emerged that the two Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-run M8 GTEs may just contest the four long-distance endurance rounds next year: namely the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Sebring 12 Hours, Watkins Glen 6 Hours and Petit Le Mans.

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

Asked by Motorsport.com 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.

#24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE, GTLM: John Edwards, Jesse Krohn

#24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE, GTLM: John Edwards, Jesse Krohn

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

“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 Rolex 24 for a second year in a row at the start of the season, but since then it has only picked up one further win 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 already wrapped up the drivers’ championship last time out at Laguna Seca.

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