IMSA: RLL Racing to Continue with BMW, Will Field All-New M8 GTE Next Season
2018 will mark the tenth consecutive year of partnership between BMW and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
After finishing second in this year's IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, Team RLL has announced that it will continue on as BMW's factory entry in the nationwide racing series in 2018. Additionally, it will move away from its current M6 GTE racecar onto the all-new M8 GTE, purpose-built for sports car endurance running. The team announced the news on Tuesday as it will be entering its tenth consecutive season with the Bavarian marque.
Team RLL and BMW's relationship stretches back to 2009 in the American Le Mans Series. Then, the duo raced an M3 GT in competition spec and has gradually gone along with Bimmer's latest and greatest models. Team co-owner Bobby Rahal commented on the decision to stay with BMW next season in a statement:
“Coming off one of our most successful years together with BMW, I am very pleased that we will continue to work together in the years to come to gain more victories and championships for BMW." He continued, “This has been a tremendous, long-term relationship that started in 2009 and we are very honored and privileged to represent BMW on the racetracks of North America."
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was able to take home four victories this past year including the season finale Motul Petit Le Mans in October.
“An enhanced RLL organization for 2018 will no doubt help in the development and running of the new BMW M8 GTE, which surely is one of the most exciting new cars of 2018," Rahal added.
Team RLL will be the first in the United States to receive the new M8 GTE and several crew members are currently in Munich helping to finish the American-bound chassis. It's expected that the first car will be delivered to the team's shop in late November in order to prepare for the January start of IMSA racing action. Practice begins early in December at Daytona, so expect to see RLL with the completely new Bimmer in tow.
"The BMW M8 GTE will begin another chapter for BMW Team RLL and we are excited to start testing,” said Victor Leleu, BMW of North America Motorsport Manager. “Bobby’s team has helped make the M3, Z4 and M6 winners against the best GT competition in the world and we have no doubt that the M8 GTE will follow the same course.
“As evidenced by our four victories with the M6 GTLM this season and especially the Petit Le Mans win, BMW Team RLL – like good wine – gets better with age.”