Every modern engine needs to powerful, reliable and as efficient as possible, this challenge is compounded when an engine needs to power a race car, at maximum engine speeds for lengthy periods at a time.
In the case of the new BMW M8 GTE race car, which will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2018, it’s powered by the most efficient power plant BMW has ever created – the BMW P63/1.
Technical data of the P63/1 engine.
- Model: 3,981 cc, 90-deg V8 engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology
- Output: 500 to over 600 hp (depending on event regulations)
- Bore: 89 mm
- Stroke: 80 mm
- Cylinder spacing: 98 mm
- Max engine speed: approx. 7,000 rpm
During the design phase of the P63/1, at BMW Motorsport engineers embarked on their most comprehensive project since the development of the power unit for the German-based DTM championship comeback in 2012, based on the (E92) BMW M3.
In total, more than 500 engine design drawings – and another 500 drawings for the powertrain since development began in February 2016.
The goal was to develop the most efficient engine ever to power a BMW race car. To achieve this, BMW decided the base engine ideally suited to the high demands was the BMW S63T4, a V8 engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology, first used in the new (F90) BMW M5.
As stipulated in the regulations, the cast parts in the engine block and cylinder heads were adopted without modification from the production power unit. Both components were made in the light-alloy foundry at BMW Group Plant Landshut.
Aside from the regulated cast parts, the engine in the BMW M8 GTE – approximately 2,300 additional components, 985 of which were unique and required comprehensive modifications.
Of these parts, 181 were derived from series projects, while more than 700 were specifically developed for the P63/1 or added from other BMW Motorsport racing engines. The engineers reduced the capacity from 4.4 to 4.0-litres, in line with regulations for the GTE class.
The new design of the crank drive involved the implementation of a flat-plane crankshaft, which brings with it the advantage of a regular firing order and delivers an even sportier sound.
The geometry of the combustion chambers, including the inlet and outlet ports, was also modified to ensure that the P63/1 is ideally designed for the demands of racing. Comprehensive modifications to the intake and exhaust system, and the complete redesign of the turbocharger have also helped to improve efficiency.
This resulted in the fuel burning very quickly and comprehensively at the optimal time, at a maximum temperature of over 2,100 degrees Celsius – allowing the P63/1 to achieve efficiency levels well above 40 percent.
This efficiency gives the team far greater flexibility with regard to fuel usage and race strategy.
Driveability was another area of focus of the P63/1. Sophisticated engine mapping delivers instant throttle response and linear power delivery to help drivers get the most out of the BMW M8 GTE on track. The P63/1 passed its first performance test at BMW's Motorsport test rig in Munich in January 2017, and aced its first trials in July 2017.
At its maiden race at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in Daytona, the two M8 GTEs (BMW Team RLL) finished seventh and ninth, covering 773 laps and 731 laps respectively, over 24 hours.