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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Frijns urges "realistic" BMW expectations in Le Mans 'big three' challenge

Robin Frijns says BMW cannot be expected to join the World Endurance Championship and be on the pace straightaway following an underwhelming start to its Hypercar campaign.

#20 BMW M Team WRT BMW M Hybrid V8 of Sheldon Van Der Linde, Robin Frijns, Rene Rast
Returning to the top class of sportscar racing for the first time in 25 years, BMW has only finished as high as sixth so far in the 2024 season, as it tries to catch up to the competition after joining a year later than most of its LMDh rivals.
In the opening three rounds of the campaign, Toyota, Ferrari and Porsche appeared to have a clear edge in the burgeoning Hypercar class, leading to a clear split in the field between the top guns and the midfield runners.
Frijns, who shares the #20 BMW M Hybrid V8 with Rene Rast and Sheldon van der Linde, thinks a lack of experience has prevented the German manufacturer from taking the fight to the 'big three' in WEC.
“For sure, Porsche took a big step forward compared to last year, it's their second year,” the Dutchman told Motorsport.com.
“It's our first year here. So we still have some improvements to do. 
“Toyota has been here for [over] 10 years, Ferrari has some good backing from the Formula 1 team, which is all connected. 
“So you cannot really expect BMW to jump in and fight at the front straight away, but we are getting there which is a good thing.”

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

However, Frijns made it clear that he is still aiming for the top prize at the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend, with weather conditions also expected to throw a spanner in the works and equalise the field. 
“I'm here to win,” he said. “I think all the drivers are here to win. So I am not really like, ‘ah I want to finish P7.’
“Everybody is here to win. But we need to be realistic in the race. If we see that we don't have the pace and we slip and finish on the podium, that's our victory.
“You need to have a good strategy and you need to stay out of trouble and then you have a good chance to be on the podium, especially with the weather forecast being like wet/dry, wet/dry.
“If you don't do any mistakes, you put the right tyres all the time, you are in the top five.”
Porsche faced a similar learning curve at Le Mans at the start of its LMDh programme, with all three of its factory Penske cars running into trouble and finishing outside the top 15 in the overall classifications.
The Stuttgart brand has since turned around its fortunes and leads both the drivers' and the manufacturers' standings heading into the blue riband round of the season, having won the  Qatar and Spa rounds between Penske and Jota teams.
BMW’s motorsport boss Andreas Roos revealed that he held a conversation with Team Penske founder Roger Penske about his squad’s struggles in 2024, as he explained why it’s difficult for any manufacturer to win in its first year.
Although the Bavarian marque already has completed a full season in the IMSA SportsCar Championship with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, it’s still a relative newcomer to the WEC, where it has partnered with WRT for its Hypercar effort.
“I also had some chats with Roger Penske and he also said that the first year for them was also very difficult," Roos told Motorsport.com.
"When you see how tight our schedules are with IMSA races, WEC races all going on, so the time to really work and develop is very difficult. 
“Sometimes when you have one year under the belt to really say okay these are the areas and then you try to work on them. 
“But definitely our goal is to win and when somebody has an edge on us we have to beat them and work harder.”
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