The 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans was the most exciting instalment of that legendary competition in decades. Ford, with its new GT, dueled Ferrari’s new 488 GTB, reviving a rivalry that dates to the mid-1960s.
Ford won in its class (a notch below the exotic prototype racers) and nearly repeated its famous 1-2-3 finish from 1966; Ferrari ended up in second.
Aston Martins, Corvettes, and Porches were also in the mix. But unlike in GT racing in the North American IMSA series, there was no BMW. But that’s soon to change.
“Starting with the 2018 season, we want to further expand our activities in GT racing and compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship,” BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said in a statement.
“This obviously also includes our return to Le Mans, which we are particularly looking forward to. The way the WEC has developed so well makes us confident that there is a big future for GT racing.”
The decision is part of what BMW is calling a strategic realignment of its motorsports program. For racing fans — and particularly for those who love endurance racing — this is welcome news.
The return to Le Mans also demonstrates a bit of a shift in that epic race, run each June in a small farming community southwest of Paris.
With Ford’s return and win in 2016, the level of competition in the GT class has risen to what many around motorsports consider an all-time high.
Ford recently committed to Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship through 2019, so fans can expect to see the Ford GT, the Ferrari 488, the Chevy Corvette, the Porsche 911, whatever Aston Martin comes up with, and now a BMW GT car taking to the Circuit de la Sarthe.
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