GTE or Grand Touring Endurance is one of the most grueling race classes around. The class derived from the former GT3 class in 1998 and debuted in 1999 as the GT class during the 24 Hours of Le Mans series. BMW entered the series in 2008 with their factory backed E92 M3 GT2 car. The successor to the E92, was the BMW Z4 GTE car. After a 6 year absence, BMW returns with their biggest and most powerful halo car yet. The BMW M8 GTE.
As you would expect the new M8 GTE is packed with BMWs latest and greatest technology, that us hardcore enthusiasts hope will trickle down to the more peasant models. During the whole 24 hours race, the cars will see, or not see the sunlight two complete times. Because of this, the race teams spend millions of dollars engineering and developing the best lighting system for their drivers to not only help them see, but improve fatigue over long sprints.
For the new M8 GTE, the BMW engineers literally started with a blank sheet of paper. The entire light was developed solely for the purpose of motor racing, yet had to resemble parts of the production 8 series. They used cutting edge technology in the production process including metal additive manufacturing. Metal additive manufacturing or 3D printing offers the possibility to produce complex parts without the design constraints of traditional manufacturing. The reason it is called additive manufacturing is because the machine will add layers of materials to build the part rather than subtractive process like milling, which removes material.
Since the parts of the lights could be created on the fly, without expensive manufacturing ramp up, it played an important role in the simulations of track tests. The endurance test in Le Castellet helped them run through various light scenarios ranging from the circuit being partially lit to fully lit, to various weather conditions.
Not only do the new lights of the flagship BMW M8 GTE set new standards for endurance racing, but they also look quite good aesthetically. The first time we were able to get a glimpse of the new lights was at the 2018 24 Hours of Daytona, and oh boy do they look great.
What do you think?