BMW M Motorsport has confirmed the full season driver lineup for its two Team RLL GTP class cars in next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, also unveiling the BMW M Hybrid V8 racing livery.
Connor De Phillippi, Nick Yelloly, Augusto Farfus and Phillip Eng have been named full-time drivers, with NTT IndyCar Series star Colton Herta among other drivers for the car’s race debut at the Rolex 24 Daytona in January.
The BMW M Hybrid V8 made its public debut in racing colors Thursday night during a launch event at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles.
Guests at the event included Franciscus van Meel, CEO of BMW M, Andreas Roos, head of BMW M Motorsport, John Doonan, president of IMSA, and Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Patrick Lanigan, co-owners of Team RLL .
De Phillippi and Yelloly will drive the BMW no. 24, with Eng and Farfus in car no. 25 for the entire WeatherTech Championship season in 2023.
“Since the GTP project was announced, it has been a dream of mine to be part of the program,” said De Phillippi, who rode the car’s first laps in Varano in July. “I know we are all eager to deliver championship results for BMW at the highest level of the IMSA competition.”
Yelloly added: “After my first [IMSA] out in Daytona and Sebring, it’s great to be racing now for the whole season in North America and with this fantastic car. For me it’s a return to my origins with high downforce racing cars. I really can’t wait. ”
Eng, meanwhile, said it was an “honor” to have had the opportunity to drive the entire season.
The German manufacturer tested nearly a dozen of them in Europe before deciding which four drivers will lead the driving duties next year.
“I will never forget my first laps with the BMW M Hybrid V8,” said Eng. “It’s a thoroughbred racing car with a tremendous amount of performance and power. It reminds me of the Class 1 cars in the DTM. It will be very fun to drive it on the IMSA racetracks “.
The BMW Farfus legend, meanwhile, will also transition from Michelin Endurance Cup duties in recent seasons to full-time competition in the WeatherTech Championship next year.
“Re-representing BMW M Motorsport at the highest level and being involved in the start of this new era of motorsport is a unique opportunity and a great honor for me,” said Farfus.
“This exciting project is one of the highlights of my career. The opposition is very strong and we will learn a lot in our first year. However, I think we have what it takes to get good results right from the start. We are definitely working hard to make it possible. ”
Sebring marked the start of the US testing program
The Dallara-chassis prototype kicked off its U.S.-based testing program earlier this week at Sebring International Raceway and is confirmed to take part in two IMSA-sanctioned tests at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and Daytona International Raceway in October and December respectively.
BMW has also planned further private and group outings in North America ahead of the Rolex 24.
The transition to testing in the States comes after numerous outings in Italy and Spain, including tests at the Motorland Aragon and at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona.
“We have worked very hard over the past few months to prepare the BMW M Hybrid V8 for racing in a short time,” said Roos. “[It’s a] nice racing car.
“Now it is our job to make it fast. We are working towards this goal day by day and we are confident that we will be ready in January when we really get to work for the first time in Daytona ”.
BMW M Team RLL Manager Bobby Rahal added: “We understand the scale of the challenge we face and look forward to tackling it head on. As has been the case before, the level of cooperation and teamwork has been outstanding.
“Being on the ground floor definitely gives our staff a good view of the car right from the start.
“I learned a long time ago that you mitigate your expectations. Yes, you have hopes and you know that you will eventually succeed, but, as with any new automotive program, there are unforeseen circumstances that can work in your favor or against you. For RLL, it’s a matter of being prepared for both of us ”.