BMW has announced it will join the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018 as part of its 'realignment of motorsport commitment' as the German manufacturer lays out its future plans.
In an executive meeting between the board of management of BMW AG the company has revised its current decisions in what it opts to compete in and how beneficial it is to the overall company including production.
As a result, BMW has confirmed it will join the GT ranks in the FIA World Endurance Championship from the start of the 2018 season while introducing a new BMW M4 GTE car.
The configuration of the team and drivers is yet to be confirmed but it is believed it will be dovetailed in line with BMW's current commitment in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – a similar path Ford took up at the start of 2016.
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt outlined the German manufacturer's motorsport plans from 2018 onwards with a new venture into WEC alongside its current commitments in IWSC, DTM, Dakar Rally (through its ownership of MINI) and Formula E where it will strengthen its commitments and ties with its association with the Andretti Formula E team.
BMW has also confirmed the continuation of its Customer Racing and Junior programmes.
“Starting with the 2018 season, we want to further expand our activities in GT racing and compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship,” Marquardt said. “This obviously also includes our return to Le Mans, which we are particularly looking forward to. The way the WEC has developed so well makes us confident that there is a big future for GT racing.
“This is also the motivation behind our further expansion in the customer racing sector. Our range is already spearheaded by a successful representative, in the form of the BMW M6 GT3. As of 2018, we will also be excellently represented by the BMW M4 GT4 in the GT4 class, which is currently experiencing something of a boom.
“It goes without saying that we will also continue our successful junior programme, in which we prepare talented youngsters in GT and touring car racing for the bigger challenges ahead. At the same time, we will also be ramping up our support of MINI's Dakar Rally project in the future. All in all, the BMW Group's motorsport programme is virtually unique in terms of its scope and diversity.
“It is fantastic that the BMW Group will be even more broadly positioned and represented in all relevant areas in the future. We will continue to focus on Europe in the DTM, and are looking forward to continuing the extremely close competition with the other premium manufacturers over the coming years.
“Other relevant international platforms will also be incorporated in the new strategy: the commitment in Formula E sees us forge new paths and demonstrate our expertise in the field of electric mobility.”
In 2009, BMW revised its motorsport focus to concentrate on production-based series starting in DTM and IWSC which was optimised when it opted to withdraw from F1 completely by selling the BMW-Sauber back to former team owner Peter Sauber.