BMW will unveil its M8 racing car set to participate in the World Endurance Championship next year.

This image of a covered BMW M8 GTE is the latest, but least revealing, glimpse of the company’s new racer set to battle it out at Le Mans next year. This week at the Frankfurt motor show, BMW will whip the covers off the car for the first time in public.

Previous snaps of the BMW M8 GTE undergoing rigorous track testing surfaced last month but the disguised finish of the test mule couldn’t distract from the GTE class car’s muscular, aerodynamic design – take a look at the rear wing. It’s rumoured a 4-litre V8 will sit under bonnet producing 500bhp to align itself with the class regulations – the road-going M8 is expected to use the new BMW M5’s engine, and it’s also possible a detuned version of this unit could be fitted to the M8 GTE. The powerplant in the race car will drive the rear-wheels through a six-speed sequential transmission.

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BMW’s return to the WEC discipline will be a welcome one, filling the large hole left by Audi, now seeking motorsport glory instead in Formula E. The Bavarian racer will be the first BMW factory works car to contest Le Mans since 2011. As ever, success at the famous circuit will hard-fought in the GTE ranks, with the likes of FerrariPorsche and Aston Martin populating the sixty-strong grid.

The BMW M8 GTE will precede the road car, forming a platform on which to develop and test systems for the M8 expected in 2018. This approach is similar to Ford’s, who made a clean sweep of the podium in 2016 with the Ford GT GTE which underpinned the subsequent road car. The M8 though is less likely to recreate the hard-edged race feel of the M8 GTE in the same way the Ford GT resembles its racing relative.