BMW M8 GTE First Drive And M8 Prototype Ride: Still Spinning

My first introduction to the BMW M8 GTE race car comes with a nerve-racking procedure called an extraction test. It goes something like this: as a stopwatch-clutching guy cues me, I kill the engine, pop off the safety netting, rip out the helmet’s communications cable, release my six-point harness without hampering the HANS device, and jump out of the (hypothetically burning) vehicle. If I can pull off the sequence in less than seven seconds, I’m deemed worthy of track-testing the car.

The disturbingly named drill is harder than it sounds because the car’s steel cage makes egress about as easy as crawling through a rat hole. It’s also a sobering way to drive home the brutal and potentially destructive power of the latest BMW factory effort racer.

Though the BMW M8 GTE actually bears few things – beyond its basic silhouette – in common with the production-spec BMW M8 that hits showrooms later next year, the heavily scooped and spoilered racer speaks volumes to the Bavarian brand’s priorities these days. For starters, it’s the first time BMW has ever unleashed the race car into competition before the road-going version hits the streets.

BMW M8 GTE: First Drive

It’s also a fierce bit of kit. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that’s more compact than the M8’s 4.4-liter mill (but limited to between 500 and 600 hp, depending on race specs), the GTE car weighs...