2018 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE undergoing testing at Homestead, Fla. Image Credit: 2017 BMW Group
BMW To Campaign M8 GTE In 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
By: Brandon J. O'Brien
Images By: BMW Group
With the BMW 8 Series only being shown at various venues as a concept it is interesting to note that the M-version is already here. BMW of North America announced that BMW Team RLL successfully completed the first US test of the all new BMW M8 GTE at Homestead, Fla. They will be campaigning the new car during the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after having just completed a successful season with the BMW M6 GTLM which they have used the past two seasons. The Team will stay in Florida in preparation for the first IMSA-sactioned test at Daytona International Speedway on December 5th and 6th.
The team’s 10th season representing BMW will see a major change to the driver lineup as Bill Auberlen transitions to a new role in support of BMW of North America’s customer racing program as a BMW NA Brand Ambassador. BMW Team RLL has added 24-year old Connor De Phillippi who will share driving duties with John Edwards, and Martin Tomczyk.
|Conner De Phillippi listening intently as he receives instructions prior to testing the 2018 BMW M8 GTE at Homestead, Fla. Image Credit 2017 BMW Group
“While I don’t believe it could ever be said that Bill Auberlen was underutilized in his first two decades with BMW NA, we have made a mutual decision to take better advantage of his expertise and now to primarily support our growing customer racing programs in addition to competing with BMW Team RLL in the four IMSA endurance races this season.”, commented BMW NA Motorsport Manager Victor Leleu. “We are delighted that Bill has agreed to become a BMW NA brand ambassador and we fully expect his unbounded enthusiasm for the brand to continue to excite BMW fans with “Bill Power”. We welcome John’s return and are pleased Connor has joined us for 2018. 2017 ended on a very strong note and we believe our success will continue with the M8 GTE.”
|Bill Auberlen standing by the 2017 BMW M6 GTLM he drove to victory at Petit Le Mans during his 400th start for BMW of North America. Image Credit: 2017 Cobb / BMW Group
Auberlen said, “I am honored to have been asked to become a BMW NA Brand Ambassador and look forward to additional opportunities with BMW of North America. First and foremost I am a racing driver and am looking forward to four races with BMW Team RLL in 2018. My goal remains to get to the top of the list in all-time North American sports car victories and I want that achievement to be shared with BMW. We are only three wins away. We have not yet determined what else I may be driving but every opportunity in a BMW racing car is a good one.”
The four races that Bill will join BMW Team RLL are; Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen and Petit Le Mans.
TAGS: Bill Auberlen, BMW, BMW Motorsport, BMW M6 GTLM, BMW M8 GTE, Brandon O'Brien, Daytona International Speedway, IMSA, M6 GTLM, M8 GTE, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship