After two Rolex 24 victories in Daytona (USA) and five IMSA series class wins, the farewell race of the MOTUL BMW M8 GTE added the 26th podium finish and a pole position to the history books. At Petit Le Mans, the final race of the season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road Atlanta (USA), Jesse Krohn (FIN) put the #24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE on pole position in class and led the field into the last race of the GTLM era. The race proved to be tougher than qualifying but shortly before the end of the ten hours, Krohn and his BMW Team RLL colleagues John Edwards (USA) and Augusto Farfus (BRA) took over P3 and could step on the GTLM podium one final time. The #25 sister car and the Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 had to retire due to race incidents.
On a special weekend for BMW M Motorsport, BMW of North America and the IMSA series, the MOTUL BMW M8 GTE took its final bow from racing as a pole-sitter and podium finisher. After a dominant performance by Krohn in qualifying on Friday that was awarded with pole position in GTLM class, both cars struggled to match their oppenents’ pace in the last ever GTLM contest. BMW Team RLL kept fighting until the end and was awarded with a late promotion to P3 in the race. Farfus had the honour of finishing the last stint of the last race for the BMW M8 GTE.
The #25 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE made good progress from the P6 starting position on the GTLM grid. Unfortunately, the car had to be retired following an incident involving Connor De Phillippi (USA), leaving him and his fellow drivers Bruno Spengler (CAN) and Philipp Eng (AUT) disappointed. After the farewell of the BMW M8 GTE, BMW Team RLL now sets sights towards its future in GTD Pro with the BMW M4 GT3 in 2022 and in the LMDh class with the BMW M LMDh in 2023.
Turner Motorsport had a disappointing final weekend of the IMSA season with DNFs with the BMW M6 GT3 in GTD class as well as with both BMW M4 GT4s in Friday’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season finale.
Special guests of BMW of North America at Petit Le Mans were Jochen Neerpasch, founder of BMW Motorsport GmbH in 1972, and the current BMW Junior Team drivers Dan Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (GER) and Neil Verhagen (USA).
Quotes after the MOTUL Petit Le Mans:
Mike Krack (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “What a day! Bidding farewell to the GTLM class, the BMW M8 GTE, the BMW M6 GT3, added by a showrun with the BMW M4 GT3. Before that we confirmed BMW Team RLL as our partner for the coming years in North America and published first pictures as well as a name for our future BMW M LMDh project. Thanks to everybody who put a lot of effort in the BMW M8 GTE. Podium and pole position in the final race are a nice conclusion. Now we open a new chapter and look forward to the BMW M4 GT3, that will do a test race next week in Sebring.”
John Edwards (BMW Team RLL, #24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE, 3rd place): “It was a bit of a surprising podium at the end but it is really nice to sign off the BMW M8 GTE with a successful weekend – qualifying on pole and finishing on the podium. We desparately wanted to win that one after last year’s heart break when we were leading in the last hour before being pushed off the track. But it is a positive end to the era of the M8. Now we are looking forward to the BMW M4 GT3 and hopefully we can celebrate of the same success with that car.”
Jesse Krohn (BMW Team RLL, #24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE, 3rd place): “Obviously, we wanted to finish the season and the BMW M8 GTE programme with a win but today it just wasn’t in the cards. We did all that we could but the Porsches were just too fast and the Corvettes as well so this was basically the maximum result that we could achieve. I am super happy for the team that we got this. Obviously we wanted to win but that didn’t happen today.”
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team RLL, #24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE, 3rd place): “I was pleased to do the final stint in the M8 GTE. I think we have to be proud of ourselves, we did what we could. It was the maximum we could achieve. We brought to the end the result that was possible today. We close a chapter but it is a long book. The BMW M4 GT3 is just around the corner and we can’t wait to be back.”
Connor De Phillippi (BMW Team RLL, #25 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE, DNF): “A tough race today. We were a bit out of strategy trying to make up for some of the deficit we had in the pits. We were pushing as hard as we could. Before the incident there were a few prototypes behind me. I thought, one of them would be right behind me, but he went into the pits. I left a bit too much space in the last corner, got on the marbles and went off. I was just a passenger at that point. Of course it’s very disappointing to end the M8 program for our car on that note. I feel bad for the guys.”