Alexander drove the newly-developed BMW M8 GTE as it made its race debut at the season-opener of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, Florida, on 27-28 January. At the end of the gruelling endurance race, Sims finished ninth in the GTLM class, 35th overall, with his BMW Team RLL team-mates Connor De Phillippi, Bill Auberlen and Philipp Eng.
Sims’ No. 25 car and the BMW Team RLL sister car, the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE, showed great reliability and managed to complete the tough endurance classic without major technical issues. However, even before the start of the race, due to the given Balance of Performance (BoP) it was clear that the two BMW M8 GTE cars would be out of contention for top positions.
Sims started the demanding race and managed to get up to fourth in class during his first stint, but the team struggled with the car’s pace due to the BoP. In the sixth hour, Sims’ team-mate Auberlen suffered a burst right-front tyre after hitting debris on the track. Repairs took 30 minutes, with Auberlen able to re-join the pack but 17 laps behind the leaders. Further repair pit-stops followed because of that incident, meaning that a strong result was impossible. However, the team drove the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE determinedly through the 24-hour race, demonstrating the car’s reliability, to ultimately finish ninth in class after 729 laps.
Sims said: “It was good to see that the BMW M8 GTE has a lot of potential. It wasn’t the result we were hoping for, but we need to extract this potential and make progress for the next race. It’s been a really good car to drive throughout the race and we’re happy with the reliability. The team did an excellent job and we have learned a lot in the car’s first outing. I’m looking forward to getting back out in it at Sebring and seeing what it can do at Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Sims and the BMW M8 GTE are back out on track for the 12 Hours of Sebring, held at Sebring International Raceway on 14-17 March 2018. In the meantime, discussions between BMW and IMSA will continue to find an appropriate BoP for the upcoming events.