The historic Bavarian brand has always seen in motorsport the possibility to express its power and potential to the fullest. Especially, on the track BMW several times it has been the protagonist of successes or duels with other manufacturers, such as the 24 hours of Le Mans. Indeed for this good competition, therefore, in the late 90s the Munich company saw an interesting partner in Williams. From here, in fact, the BMW V12 LMR will be born, a Sport Model that will lay the foundations for the next partnership in Formula One.
BMW Motorsport, a household name
As mentioned, House of Munich He has always had a great calling for sports. To reflect this DNA, for example, the BMW Racing Department was born in 1972, identified by all with the classic color red – blue (originally violet) – blue and, above all, the letter “m“. The first car to bring the German brand to the top was the BMW 3.0 CSL in the 70s, when, for example, it dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1973, 1974, 1976 and 1977 editions. 3.0 CSL (Coupe Sport Lightweight), therefore, it is considered the first product after the birth of BMW Motorsport.
Over the years, other racing cars followed, including one-seaters designed in collaboration with Williams. from here, The BMW V12 LMR was born, the successor to the 1999 BMW V12 LM model, as well as the only one to take overall victory in Bavarian colors at the Circuit de La Sarthe. So, the white single-seater is responsible for the victory after BMW’s 1998 race ended early due to a wheel bearing problem.
BMW V12 LMR, full aerodynamics
From the beauty of the car, The BMW V12 LMR is a “barchetta”, so it is designed with an open bodywork, obviously in carbon fiber. The lines of the same seat, therefore, pass a lot, “interrupted”, however, and a roll the castle in the central area. This one feature in trial protection caused much discussion, as it was at the limit of the regulation in use at the time. Indeed, once adopted, this solution introduced by BMW will then be quickly copied by other manufacturers. Also of note are the two channels on the side of the front bonnet that channel the aerodynamic flow into the two air intakes, cooling the engine and mechanical parts.
In addition, the Bavarian single seater is equipped with various other aero components aimed at making the most of ground effect, especially on long, low-load tracks such as Le Mans. The V12 LMR, therefore, has a flat bottom between the two axles, fixed by the principle, but there are diffusers both in front and behind. In particular, on the sides there are more air extractors that increase the effect of the ground, also thanks to the very low rear wing. Finally, on the muzzle there are also the usual two “kidney” to introduce the German manufacturer, while on the right side of the pilot there is another circular air intake.
As the name already says, The BMW V12 LMR has a V-shaped 12-cylinder gasoline engine with an inclination of 60 ° between the cylinder banks, placed in the middle and long. In fact, this position favors the center of gravity and weight distribution which, in a racing car, certainly makes a difference. The BMW S70/3 engine is made of aluminum for the cylinder head and for the engine block, it offers 600 hp and a displacement of 5990 cc. The maximum torque produced is 678 Nm, while the transmission is sequential with 6 throttle + reverse.
BMW V12 LMR chassis and mechanics
The Bavarian Sport model is designed with a monocoque frame, also in carbon fiber and combined with honeycomb aluminum elements to improve stiffness and resistance. The interesting aspect of this feature, however, is that it also has a structural function for some mechanical components, above all regarding the rear suspension. They, both back and front, are of independent type and push rods, therefore it is equipped with a triangular structure that interacts with “inverted” and a diagonal strut to absorb stresses. There are also anti-roll bars to reduce lateral sway.
Another curious feature is the ballast, designed big, thin and placed under the passenger compartment, making it possible to reach the required minimum weight of 900 kg. Other mechanical features are, for example, rack and pinion steering with electric assist, as well as a Hitco braking system with carbon ceramic disc brakes. Michelin tires are mounted on 18” OZ Racing rims. Finally, the BMW V12 LMR has a 90 liter tank.
1999 24 Hours of Le Mans
The BMW V12 LMR debuted at the 1999 12 Hours of Sebring, taking victory in a race where the German manufacturer was preparing the car with a view to Le Mans. This year’s edition is very loud, as there is the participation of many car manufacturers decorated with high-end cars. The race was also accompanied by many “unique” accidents, such as those that witnessed the take-off of the Mercedes CLR and the repeated burning of Toyota GT One. Therefore, in a weekend full of adrenaline, the BMWs seem to have no major problems, leading the race until 4 hours from the end, when there is the first fear even for the German manufacturer. Finn JJ Lehto’s car was, in fact, forced to retire due to a blocked accelerator, making way for another Bavarian driver Pierluigi Martini.
The battle with the Japanese Toyota crew is not easy but the Italian BMW driver manages it well. Martini, in fact, drove a clean car, while the Toyota garage chose not to stop for a tire change to make up time for the German. The choice of the Japanese team, however, will be detrimental to the outcome of the race. The only GT-One of the 3 remaining in the line-up, in fact, punctured a tire due to dirt on the track, finishing the race in 2nd place. The BMW V12 LMR, therefore, would be the winner of the 1999 edition.
The future of the BMW V12 LMR by the German manufacturer
After great success in France, the Bavarian single-seater is participating in another American race in the ALMS championship (American Le Mans Series), losing the 1999 Title only because of two races that were not run due to company choices. The following year, 2000, BMW did not participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans without even entering its cars with private teams, still focusing on America. On the New Continent, the Munich-based company had to compete with the high-performance Audi R8s, cars that would become key players in the following years. Therefore, this pushes BMW to invest in a new project with Williams: Formula One.
Therefore, the Munich company will remain in the Circus for several years, first with Williams and then with Sauber, also get several different results. Recently, then, BMW has been involved in the Formula E World Championship and then announced a good return WEC extensionfrom 2023 and M Hybrid V8. In short, BMW is still very active in motorsports today.
Cover photo: BMW V12 LMR. Credit: 24h-lemans.com