BMW M8’s first “firsts” come back to Sebring

March 11, 2019

BMW M8’s first “firsts” come back to Sebring

March 11, 2019

Last year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring marked a breakthrough weekend for the BMW M8 GTE.

Sure, it was only its second race weekend after debuting in the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona. But the two weekends in Florida could not have provided a bigger night and day difference.

Connor De Phillippi after his pole last year. Photo: Michelin North America

American Connor De Phillippi, in only his second race weekend in IMSA’s highly competitive GT Le Mans class, scored the class pole. Fellow new BMW Team RLL driver Jesse Krohn set the fastest race lap. The two cars led 86 laps combined, and De Phillippi, Alexander Sims and Bill Auberlen finished second in the No. 25 BMW M8 to score the car’s first podium.

Auberlen, Sims and De Phillippi recorded BMW M8 GTE’s first podium. Photo: Michelin North America

That trio of “firsts” were first among the BMW M8’s “firsts” in its first full season of competition. The other “firsts” came in consecutive race meetings, as De Phillippi and Sims scored back-to-back wins at VIR and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last fall.

MORE FIRSTS THIS SEBRING

As the team returns to Sebring this month, the “firsts” of a year ago have their first anniversary. And they enter off the car’s first major endurance race victory, the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona. De Phillippi shared the No. 25 BMW there with Philipp Eng, Augusto Farfus and Colton Herta.

Coming into Sebring, there’s more “firsts” for BMW to look forward. The race is the first that De Phillippi’s new full-season co-driver, Tom Blomqvist, will be able to race. Blomqvist was unable to compete at Daytona due to a visa issue, and Farfus was a last-minute call-up. Ultimately, his pass on the No. 62 Risi Ferrari going into the Bus Stop chicane proved the winning one.

Daytona podium. Photo: Michelin North America

There’s more “firsts” to look forward to at Sebring for BMW as a brand. With both its BMW Team RLL and BMW Team MTEK teams at the same venue, the “Super Sebring” weekend will mark the first time there have been four BMW M8 GTEs on site at the same venue (if not in the same race).

As a result of there being four BMW M8s, it means an influx of BMW factory drivers split between the two programs.

No. 81 BMW Team MTEK BMW M8 GTE: Martin Tomczyk, Nicky Catsburg, Philipp Eng. Photo: Michelin North America

The FIA WEC lineups feature Farfus, Sims, Martin Tomczyk, Nicky Catsburg, Antonio Felix da Costa and Bruno Spengler. Sims (No. 81) and Spengler (No. 82) are the slated third drivers for this race.

This comes in addition to the four full-season IMSA drivers, de Phillippi, Blomqvist, Krohn and John Edwards. Eng and Herta are now split between the Nos. 24 and 25 cars, rather than paired together as in Daytona.

Edwards tested the FIA WEC BMW this weekend to help that team with its Sebring debut.

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