Munich April 18, 1999... BMW carried out a 24-Hour test on the new BMW V12 LMR sportscar as part of the preparation for the June running of the 1999 24-Hour Race in Le Mans. The tests were carried out over a period of five days in Le Castellet (France), under the direction of Dr. Ulrich Schiefer, Head of the V12 LMR project, and Team Manager Charly Lamm.
The test was run in three stages due to the curfew in Le Castellet and the occasional dense fog. Useful information was also gathered on one rainy day - as the BMW V12 LMR drove for the first time in wet conditions.
Yannick Dalmas (France), Pierluigi Martini (Italy) and Joachim Winkelhock (Germany), referred to as the three jockeys within the team, took over the endurance run with one of the cars. Their stable-mates, Tom Kristensen (Denmark), JJ Lehto (Finland) and Jorg Muller (Germany), undertook development work on the engine and aerodynamic set-up in a second roadster.
"The test and the allocation of tasks worked very well," commented Lamm. "It helps a great deal that the entire team has already worked together during a race engagement."
The BMW V12 LMR won the 12-Hours of Sebring in Florida on March 20. "That gave us a tremendous motivation shunt," said BMW Motorsports Director Gerhard Berger. "But the bumpy track in Sebring doesn't give us any indication of our competitiveness on the high-speed track in Le Mans, where a test of strength will be taking place amongst the international automotive elite."
Pre-qualifying on May 2 marks the start of the event.
"It feels good to have driven a complete Le Mans distance," Winkelhock emphasized, "I am the least experienced with sportscars in our team and this simulation boosted my confidence."
Martini compared the run with the first long-distance test in February: "We've made good progress and we have now tested the assisted steering, which worked well right from the start."
Dalmas also assessed the test positively: "Of course, a thousand things can go wrong during the race," said the three-time Le Mans winner knowingly, "but it is good to know that we are principally able to run the entire distance at top speed."