Flagship BMW M8 previewed by M8 GTE racer at Frankfurt

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We've known for a while that BMW planned to bring back the range-topping 8 Series luxury coupe.

BMW is on a roll this year at their home auto show and after the unveil of several concepts (full 2017 IAA coverage here), it is now showing us their future racing vehicle.

No official powertrain details have been announced, but BMW insiders confirmed the Mercedes-AMG S 63 rival will feature the same 600bhp-plus 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine and four-wheel-drive set-up that features in the new M5 saloon.

A fascinating aspect of the M8 GTE's engineering was the use of artificial intelligence in developing the multi-stage traction control, along with 3D printing technology.

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It has the usual conspicuous because racecar aerodynamic accoutrements including a giant rear wing, a meaty rear diffuser and a hefty front splitter, but what's interesting is how the aero side of things was developed. Thanks to lots of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, the whole auto weighs in at only 2,690 pounds, and under the hood, the M8 GTE packs a twin-turbo V-8 making more than 500 hp. The cylinder block and head are taken from the production engine but the power it produces is instead fed through a sequential, six-speed racing gearbox.

"The BMW M8 GTE is our new GT flagship and will go head to head with the strong opposition in this sector", says Marquardt.

"We are bringing cutting-edge technology to the top global class of GT racing, whilst at the same time tying in with our tradition at Le Mans".

It's not the "8" we'll see on the street, but the M8 GTE program has run parallel with the road car's development and more accurately portrays the production model than the 8-Series concept we saw earlier in the year. The headlights and tailights used on the GTE challenger are said to also be used on the road-going 8-Series and M8. No images have been released but bosses are expecting the GTE to makes its racing debut at the Daytona 24 Hours in January next year.