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      12-12-2020, 09:59 PM   #1
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Motorsport Manager: Present and Future of BMW Motorsport North America

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https://www.endurance-info.com/fr/pr...-victor-leleu/
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Present and future of BMW Motorsport North America with Victor Leleu (part 1)

The year 2020 of BMW Motorsport has blown hot and cold. If in Europe the Bavarian brand owes its season to a success at the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, the American continent saw the victory of BMW at the 24 Hours of Daytona without forgetting the Intercontinental GT Challenge in Indianapolis and the Michelin Endurance Cup GTLM title ( IMSA). As for the future, the M4 GT3 is still under development, the GT4 category continues to develop across the Atlantic and it is on the GTLM program side that there is some doubt. Victor Leleu, Motorsport Manager at BMW North America, provided Endurance-Info with an update on activities in the United States.

Are activities 100% resumed?

“We're opening up little by little. Since last March, there has been a lot of teleworking. We had to integrate new protocols with a different management of meetings. IMSA has done a good job of setting up the paddock. We resumed last summer on the Virginia International Raceway. It's been a complicated year and it's no surprise to say that we had to reinvent ourselves. The situation forced everyone to do it differently. On the BMW side, we have set up various sim racing races with the IMSA crown at stake. ”

Has everything been redesigned internally?

“At one point, we said to ourselves: what are we doing? All organizational processes have been reviewed, fewer staff, redesigned workspaces. Everyone knows that respecting social distances is not easy in motorsport. We saw it with Bill (Auberlen) who missed the 12 Hours of Sebring (in GTD) as a precaution. We didn't want to take the slightest risk for anyone. IMSA updated each event and everyone gained confidence, which made it possible to witness a great season. The promoter was forced to cram a season in half the usual time, or about 150 days out of usually 300. ”

Was traveling to the United States complicated to manage?

“Nationwide, each state has its own rules. As an example, the team is based in Ohio and I reside in New Jersey. Things are different in different states. Initially, it was necessary to reopen the team, so that it can work and prepare the next deadlines. The situation forces us to rethink the way we do things. There is also something to be learned from any negative situation. ”

What do you remember from the season in terms of sport?

“It's been a pretty thrilling season despite the withdrawal of Ford and the presence of Ferrari only at Daytona. With six cars on the track, one could question the value of the GTLM championship. Finally, the races were decided at the end. For BMW, there are no regrets, but some big disappointments. ”

The victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona gave the season a good start, but the rest was more complicated ...

“Daytona was amazing, as was the 6 Hours race at Road Atlanta. The overall performance at Petit Le Mans was good, but with 40 minutes remaining the victory was gone after contact with a prototype. Then there was the 12 Hours of Sebring where we all still have a heartache. It has been a while since BMW won this race. What other sport can have your performance defeated by something that is beyond your control? It is the cruelty of sport. A competitor from another category takes you around a bend and there is nothing to do. In all other sports, we can say to ourselves that we are partially responsible. Not in this case… There, it happened 12 minutes from the end of the race. Road America should also have turned to our advantage without aquaplaning. On these two races, it would be too easy to speak of regret when we are transient in the result. It's motorsport and we knew it when we went there. For everyone, 2020 has been a very difficult year and sport remains very secondary to all of this. ”

We heard a rumor that BMW could have a partial season in 2021 with only the big endurance races. What is it?

“You have to face an economic reality and have this reality in mind. Daytona is already tomorrow and we are behind schedule. We are working for 2021 and what I can say is that we will be at the 24 Hours of Daytona with two BMW M8 GTLMs. For the rest, we will see. BMW has a long history in the United States. The country represents the biggest market in the world for the M brand. I read everything about the rest of the program, but there is nothing done. Different scenarios are on the table. The decision is not just 'do or don't do'. ”

We must also ask ourselves the question of the future of GTLM?

“With six cars and three brands, we were holding up. Two, it becomes more complicated. We will have to look at the after. BMW has always been a supporter of GT convergence. The GT3 category is a global platform with many brands ready to join the premier GT category. In addition, justifying a GTE / GTD program becomes complicated.”
https://www.endurance-info.com/fr/pr...-leleu-part-2/
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Present and future of BMW Motorsport North America with Victor Leleu (part 2)

The GT3 category will soon see the arrival of new rules and BMW is at the forefront on the subject. An advantage ?

BMW will have a new car in 2022 with the M4 GT3. The M6 ​​GT3 still has some nice remains, as Turner Motorsport has shown again this season in IMSA. Will Turner's team is the oldest in the BMW fold in the world after Schnitzer. They have always won at least one race every year since 2016. ”

For 2022, we are talking more and more about GTD Pro and GTD Pro-Am. What is your opinion on the matter?

“Having GTD Pro and Pro-Am is the easiest solution. We can see that there are a lot of GT3s in the United States. To divide the GTD category in two is in my opinion a good idea. It would also re-motivate teams that have GT3s. The GTD grid also tends to be reduced in IMSA, but also in GT World Challenge America. On the other hand, we are fully satisfied with the commitment of our customers to GT4 in such a difficult period. ”

Are you worried about the future of thermal motorsport at BMW?

Markus (Flasch) has been at the head of M for two years now and the philosophy still has to go towards motorsport. This leadership remains the same now that he runs BMW Motorsport. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jens (Marquardt) for all the work accomplished at the head of BMW Motorsport. He was a true ambassador and a fervent supporter of racing in the United States, with the M3 as well as the Z4, M6 or M8. It was a real pleasure to be able to collaborate with him with the establishment of a solid working base within a very competent cosmopolitan group in Munich. ”

Do you feel a general change in mentalities in the United States?

The United States remains the number 1 performance market. The future of the combustion engine will be longer here than in Europe or Asia. Formula E has something to show, but it's harder to migrate a motorsport fan. Formula E is aimed at a different audience. For BMW, the challenge is to address both. We are in a rather particular market. The M brand has big ambitions in the years to come. For us, the priority is already to finalize 2021. ”

Are we talking about LMDh at BMW with a global product?

As always, BMW has an eye on everything that is happening. 2021 will already be a year of transition for BMW pending the arrival of the M4 GT3. We hope that it will be an advantage to be the first brand to offer a new GT3. Our customer base is satisfied.

Is IMSA talking about cost reduction?

“IMSA wants to reduce costs with, in particular, a reduction in the time spent on meetings to go to two days instead of three. Time is money. It will make the weekends more busy, but everyone will be accommodated in the same boat.”
“Despite his immense experience, Bill is always looking for improvement. He does not balk at the effort and the challenge. He continues to work to be in front of young people. I think he will be 25 in 2021 (laughs). He won his 61st race to win the 62nd the next day at VIR. I don't know where it will stop. It is a pleasure and a pleasure to work with him and to have him at BMW.”
Google Translation. Emphasis added.

Last edited by BMWGirlFL; 12-13-2020 at 05:40 AM..
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      01-18-2021, 05:23 PM   #2
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Good info!

I really think GT3 is the way going forward. It's global racing and it has the advantage of extremely good competition and good drivers. Moreover, it is relatively reasonable in cost.

I miss the wild scream of the 3.0L V10 in F1 but this is a reasonable substitute.

Great post!
Thanks for the information!!
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      01-29-2021, 09:14 PM   #3
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https://motorsports.nbcsports.com/20...s-jesse-krohn/
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“This year will see us focus on the four races that compose the Michelin Endurance Cup and the 52 toughest hours in sports car endurance racing,” said Victor Leleu, BMW NA Motorsport Manager. “Of course, we would like to see all of our BMW fans at every IMSA venue, but this is the decision we have made in order to ensure a winning future. We look forward to the competition in Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.”

https://www.bmwblog.com/2021/01/20/b...e-2021-season/
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      03-12-2021, 06:44 AM   #4
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BMW Team RLL Has Unfinished Business at Sebring
A GTLM Victory Snatched from its Grasp in November Still Haunts

When it comes to this month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, BMW Team RLL has some unfinished business.

Although 2021 marks the 13th year of the partnership between the German automaker and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and although that association has produced multiple IMSA team, manufacturer and driver championships and nearly two dozen race wins, their last victory at the historic Florida venue came in 2012.

What’s more, BMW Team RLL came agonizingly close to breaking its victory drought in 2020, leading much of the race only to be rudely punted out of the lead by a GT Daytona (GTD) competitor on a late – make that very late, as in a dozen minutes shy of the finish – restart.

And with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship replacing the GT Le Mans class with a new GTD PRO class in 2022, this is BMW Team RLL’s final chance to rebound from last year’s disappointment and add another Sebring GTLM victory to the tally.

"We kind of wish that last year’s event had been the Mobil 1 Eleven Hours and 48 Minutes of Sebring," joked Victor Leleu, BMW North America’s motorsports manager. "That would have been fine with us. But it wasn’t.

"We all had to take a little bit of time to get over it because, obviously, it was a major disappointment in more ways than one. But I kept going back to, ‘What other sport can you lose it all through absolutely no fault of your own, from something entirely external to you, like motor racing?’ I’m not sure I have found the answer.

"So the answer this year is quite simple: We know we can do it. We have a good car. We executed very well last year. Our marching orders are simple: Replicate the performance and this time stay out of harm’s way 12 minutes longer if we can."

All the more compelling is that Sebring occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of more than one of BMW Team RLL’s key players, beginning with team co-owner Bobby Rahal. As a student, Bobby accompanied his father, Mike, to Sebring when the elder Rahal competed in the Twelve Hours. Bobby Rahal began racing at Sebring himself in 1976, he teamed with Jochen Mass to capture the 1987 edition of the race and has two wins as a team owner.

"Sebring is a big deal," Rahal begins. "I’ve often told people that the most meaningful victory I ever had was winning at Sebring in 1987. Which surprises people who would normally think Indy. Of course, (the 1986 Indianapolis 500) was very, very important, no question. But Sebring has always meant so much to me because I did go there with my father in the late ’60s as a high school and then college student and happened to see the greatest drivers in the world driving those cars. It was really something quite magical and I still feel that same way.

"I kind of have a romantic emotional response. … When you drive in and smell the orange blossoms, I remember that so vividly when I went there in 1969 for the first time. So whenever I go there it takes me back in time.

"For me, it just has a lot of meaning. Everybody on our team knows what it means for me to do well there. It was great to win there two years in a row with BMW in 2011 and 2012, and then last year was just a heartbreaker. The team deserved to win and through no fault of their own we were taken out. So going down there, if there’s one I always want to win in the IMSA world, it’s Sebring."

Although he doesn’t have as lengthy of a history, BMW Team RLL driver Connor De Phillippi has deep connections of his own to Sebring.

"Sebring is where the roots of my career really started," he said. "It’s one of the first tracks I ever drove, when I raced in the (Skip) Barber School. So it’s always had a special place in my heart from racing the Skip Barber National Series, which was a support race for the Twelve Hours back in the American Le Mans Series days. Dreaming of driving an LMP1 Peugeot or Audi and now to be with BMW has been pretty special. Especially this being the last year of GTLM, it would be nice to sign off on that phase of my career with a win."

De Phillippi said the newfound pace that the Nos. 24 and 25 BMW M8 GTEs found at Sebring in November provides reason for optimism this time around. The two cars combined to lead nearly half the laps in GTLM before finishing third and fourth.

"Last year’s race was a hard way to end the year, but in a way it was a positive because Sebring hadn’t been a strength of ours, and to be as competitive as we were and to lead hours of the race was a big step forward," De Phillippi said. "I won’t say we weren’t expecting it, but we had tried a new philosophy and found some performance, so I was really excited to get this year underway and carry that confidence into this year."

The performance wasn’t quite as strong in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona to open the 2021 season, something De Phillippi hopes to turn around at Sebring.

"Again, we had good performance, some good speed but we didn’t have the luck at Daytona," he said. "So we’re reloading for Sebring and hope we can shake the monkey off our back and have not so much good luck as not have bad luck."

BMW Team RLL is running a limited program this season, focused solely on the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events instead of the full season. It leaves only four chances (Daytona, Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Motul Petit Le Mans) to grace victory lane this year, not to mention the No. 24 vying to defend the Endurance Cup driver, team and manufacturer crowns.

"BMW is our longtime partner and, like a lot of companies, has had to tighten their belts and do just the four races," Rahal said. "I think everybody is working as hard or perhaps even harder because you only have four shots at winning, and for me, the four endurance races are the ones you want to win most of all, anyway. So yes, we’re going to do everything we can to win the race. I don’t think there’s any race we’ve ever gone into where we’ve been willing to accept second, third or fourth right off the bat: We’re there to win."

Leleu concurred.

"Whenever that chance comes, you have to go for it and seize it," he says. "That’s our mentality whether we do four or 11 races. Now with this year, there’s more pressure because we’re the defending (IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup) champions, so there’s a bit of a target on our back.

"We’re ready. We know what we’re dealing with. We are capable of capitalizing on a car that we know very well and with a team that we know extremely well."

WeatherTech Championship practice for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts begins Thursday, March 18, with qualifying to set the grid the following day (streaming live on IMSA.com at 11:10 a.m. ET). The live race telecast begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 20 on NBCSN, switches to the NBC Sports App at noon and returns to NBCSN at 7 p.m. through the race conclusion. The entire telecast is available from start to finish on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio provides weekend coverage on IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio.
https://www.imsa.com/news/2021/03/09...ss-at-sebring/
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      03-25-2021, 01:04 PM   #5
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Oh well, BMW tried to steal a Sebring win last weekend but after the race ending incident with Team Corvette the officials saw to it that Porsche was handed the victory, another....
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