The new BMW 8 Series may not even be in production yet – let alone the high-performance M8 – but Munich is getting the ball rolling with a racing version of the upcoming luxury coupé. The BMW M8 GTE will be campaigned in international GT racing next year ahead of the road car’s launch.

It will be entered in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where BMW hopes it will fight for victory. The car will make its official race debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona on January 27.

Visually, the M8 GTE looks to be faithful to the Concept 8 Series, with slim headlights that feature hexagonal corona rings, flanking massive trapezoidal kidney grilles that are joined in the middle. The long, rakish silhouette also remains, as do the L-shaped tail lights.

On top the production-ready body, BMW Motorsport has fitted a swathe of aerodynamic addenda to make the M8 fit for racing. These include boxy flared fenders to hide the wider track, sizeable air intakes and bonnet vents, additional lighting for night racing, streamlined door mirrors, a massive rear diffuser and the obligatory rear wing. The livery was designed specifically for the car’s Frankfurt Motor Show debut.

Under the bonnet is the M8’s twin-turbocharged V8 (likely the new M5‘s 4.4 litre unit) albeit downsized to 4.0 litres to meet GTE regulations – it makes a nominal output of over 500 hp, depending on the classification. Drive is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential manual transmission.

Extensive use of carbon fibre components mitigates the M8 GTE’s considerable girth – despite being nearly five metres long (4,980 mm) and over two metres wide (2,046 mm), it weighs just 1,220 kg. The company says that it made extensive use of virtual development, with 3D printing giving engineers greater freedom and rapid prototyping allowing for a 24-hour turnaround to create a usable prototype component.

The team also used new algorithm to create more computational flow dynamics (CFD) calculations, enabling greater computing power to increase the number of simulations before using the wind tunnel – the aero wheels you see here is one of the products of this development. The use of 3D measurement technology, first used on this year’s M4 DTM, also ensures perfect quality control once the hand-built car is assembled.

The M8 road car, which will be developed in concert with the race programme, will likely feature the new M5’s 600 hp/750 Nm V8 powertrain, plus that car’s eight-speed automatic transmission and an M xDrive all-wheel drive system with a drift-happy rear-wheel drive mode.