BMW Team RLL took victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona (USA). This latest success was the third GTLM victory in the IMSA series for the BMW M8 GTE. BMW celebrated its first win at Daytona back in 1976 with the BMW 3.0 CSL. This was followed in 1997 and 1998 by two class victories with the BMW M3 GTR. Overall victory went to Daytona prototypes with BMW Power in 2011 and 2013. BMW Team RLL finished on the top step of the podium at Daytona for the first time.
When the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was suspended due to heavy rain for the second time, the #25 BMW M8 GTE and drivers Connor De Phillippi (USA), Augusto Farfus (BRA), Philipp Eng (AUT) and Colton Herta (USA) were leading the GTLM class. The race did not resume, leaving the BMW drivers to celebrate the victory. The appearance by Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) meant the team’s #24 car was the center of much attention at the endurance classic in Florida. It proved to be a difficult race for the Italian and his fellow drivers John Edwards (USA), Jesse Krohn (FIN) and Chaz Mostert (AUS). The quartet eventually came home in ninth place.
The race weekend was overshadowed by the news of the sudden death of long-term Schnitzer team principal Charly Lamm. In memory of Charly, BMW Team RLL competed with the words “Godspeed, Charly” on the rear of both BMW M8 GTEs at Daytona.
Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director): “What a race, and what an emotional win – and during such difficult days for the entire BMW Motorsport family. To stand on the top step of the podium here at Daytona after such an eventful and unpredictable 24 Hours is absolutely fantastic. Congratulations to Connor De Phillippi, Augusto Farfus, Philipp Eng, Colton Herta and everyone at BMW Team RLL. Congratulations also to our team in Munich, who have moulded the BMW M8 GTE into a real winner. We can be very proud of this success. Although the drivers of the #24 car had to settle for ninth place, after enduring a lot of misfortune during the race, they made BMW Motorsport history together. Alessandro Zanardi’s appearance sent a buzz through the racing community at Daytona and beyond. Together with Jesse Krohn, John Edwards and Chaz Mostert, Alex battled like a lion and refused to be disheartened by the set-backs in the race. That is precisely what makes him so special, and why the fans love him. Alex and his fellow drivers can also feel like winners after this race. We would like to dedicate this success to Charly Lamm. His loss is just as painful today as it was on Thursday, when we received news of his death. He would have wanted us to fight to the final lap here. We did that – and won it for him.”