Rahal hoping for BMW LMDh nod

If BMW decides to join IMSA’s new LMDh class in 2023, its seasoned partners at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing want to run the program.

It might sound like an obvious assertion to make, but with an increasing belief the German auto manufacturer will indeed join in the category that already has commitments from Acura, Audi, and Porsche, RLL would be expected to have plenty of competition from other service providers seeking to insert themselves and walk away with a factory contract.

“It’s no secret that I’ve wanted to participate, whether it was DPi, and next with LMDh, to have the opportunity to go win races in an overall sense,” RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal told RACER. “We love racing GT cars with BMW because the competition is fantastic, and, of course, to be associated with BMW for something like 13 years has been tremendous.

“But there’s nothing like the opportunity for our team to win in a race like Sebring overall, or Daytona, for that matter. Even the opportunity to go to Le Mans, which I think is what makes the LMDh category so appealing, is exciting because you can compete for an overall victory and not just a class victory. I’m hopeful that’s in our future. We’ll see, but I’m certainly hopeful that we have that opportunity.”

To save on the costs and hassles of setting up new factory organizations of their own, manufacturers often engage with large, established teams like RLL that offer turnkey options to field new racing campaigns. And while it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that RLL has fielded inquiries regarding its availability and interest in running other LMDh programs in 2023, Rahal says he’s focused on one brand.

“Not many teams in racing have had as long of an uninterrupted relationship in sports cars as we’ve had with BMW Team RLL,” he added. “There’s a trust that is pretty special, so you’re certainly hopeful that that’s something of interest to BMW. The whole idea is that LMDh costs less money than GT Le Mans, so there’s a lot of upside to LMDh if that’s the chosen direction to go. We’ve been loyal to BMW over the years. They’ve been loyal to us. I think that when the time comes, we’ll know which direction — and that will be determined by them, based on what they want to do.”