BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt is quite confident that BMW Team MTEK has a good package for this year’s Le Mans and FIA World Endurance Championship.
Racing24-7.net caught up with him earlier this month to talk about the new challenges for them, travelling the world with the brand new BMW M8 GTE.
How much benefit could you take from the US races to the FIA WEC?
“For sure, with regards to the development of the new car, we spend a lot of time testing and developing the car last year. But obviously the toughest running on the car is in competition. And to have already completed the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, definitely gave us good feedback on the car – areas were we still can make slight improvements in regards to reliability and ideas for performance, although tires are slightly different, and the tracks are obviously different. But overall I think that you can always learn, because it is the same car, you learn by every kilometre that you do.”
“We managed to go 12 hours over the toughest track that you can probably think of, with Sebring, and we managed that. We did 24 hours in Daytona, so I think basic reliability of the car is really good, for that age of the car. But the tracks have different specifics, you really have to go with every new track that you go to, Set-up wise obviously. I’m quite confident with regards to reliability, but still in a year or two years of life with a car, you have seen all the tracks, and you know much better, whether there was a specific type of curb that caused a problem, that you hadn’t seen in testing. But that is normal in motor racing.
“We did part of the development over here and part of the development in the US, but we always managed, with the central point in Munich, to feed back ether way. But for sure, we benefit from both programmes running parallel.
“The tires are not quite the same, but it’s part of the engineering job we have to do. We have to fine tune the set-up to specifics, because at the end of the day, it’s the tire and the track. That is really what you have your engineers for – to find the sweet spot set-up wise, tire and track matching with the car.”
Do you see this season more as a learning year than going for the Championship, since you have a lot of driver changes due to DTM clashes and so – So is it more about getting miles into the car?
“No, absolutely not! It’s never our approach to go into a Championship, especially into a Championship like WEC and say ‘oh, it’s a learning year, we will see for the second year – we are here to understand’. NO! We are definitely here to win, to win races as quickly and early as we can. To get the best performance out of our car, our team, our drivers, and we will push 100% on every event. Where that ends up, we will have to see. But for sure, our approach is always to be straight away as competitive as we can, and to go onto the three steps as quick as we can – and the center step is always the target.”
What is the status on costumer cars?
“The status is that currently it’s our first year. We start here with the M8, and you are best at concentrating fully on that, and not thinking about what could happen in a year from now. For sure, within the Super Season, we have no plans of a costumer car.”
The team finished 5th and 8th at the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, which was the opening and so far only round of the FIA World Endurance Championship 2018/19.
Both BMW M8 GTE cars will be on track this Sunday, when the mandatory test day at Circuit de la Sarthe is held from 9 am until 6 pm, with a one-hour lunch break in the middle.