BMW has revealed the powerplant for its upcoming LMDh prototype entry, the M Hybrid V8.
The endurance racer will be propelled by a 4.0-liter hybrid twin-turbo V8, designated P66/3. The new engine is good for a category-regulated output of around 640 horsepower, with 479 lb-ft of torque and a redline of 8,200 rpm.
LMDh prototypes are built on pre-approved chassis designs to help control costs. Teams can design their own engines, which are paired with a generic spec hybrid system provided by Bosch, Williams Advanced Engineering and Xtrac.
The engine was developed from the earlier naturally-aspirated P66/1 used in the BMW M4 DTM entry from 2017-2018. Engineers then added turbos and developed an intermediate P66/2 design, before making further changes to create the P66/3. That mostly involved modifications to suit the Dallara chassis, and integration of the spec hybrid system used in LMDh cars.
It took careful consideration to land on the P66 engine as a base. Repurposing an existing engine was key, as BMW was eager not to spend huge sums of money on building a bespoke engine from scratch. The later P48 Turbo four-cylinder from the 2019 M4 DTM was ruled out for longevity concerns in the endurance racing application. The P63 from the M8 GTE was rejected for being too heavy.
The engine was first married up to the hybrid drive unit at the end of June, and successfully fired up by BMW engineers. A proper rollout is planned for the end of July in Varano de Melegari, Italy, followed by intensive testing to get the car competition-ready.
The M Hybrid V8 will make its racing debut at the 61st running of the Rolex 24 in Daytona in 2023. It will line up alongside other LMDh debutants like the Porsche 963 and Cadillac LMDh-V.R. LMH cars will be eligible to enter too, so we could see the bespoke prototypes from Toyota and Peugeot out on track, too.
The new LMDh and LMH regulations promise to be the shot in the arm that endurance racing needs right now. The hot new prototypes should deliver plenty of spectacle when they first do battle wheel-to-wheel at Daytona next year.
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