Ahead of BMW’s return to the Le Mans 24 Hours, the German OEM has detailed its innovative light technology on the new BMW M8 GTE. Developed together with Osram, the headlights have been specifically designed for racing and promise the brightest light in the GTE field.
Built by custom-design specialist GERG Lighthouse, a member of the GERG Group, and based closely on the design of the BMW 8 Series Coupé production model, the GTE’s lights aim to produce high range and illuminate the entire width of the track. Furthermore, auxiliary headlights, also featuring LED technology, light up the corner entries.
“The light system is a safety factor for the drivers. Optimal illumination of the track, particularly on the long forest straights at Le Mans, prevents the drivers from becoming tired so quickly,” said Richard Bichler, head of the BMW M8 GTE project at BMW Motorsport.
Unlike production cars, the full beam is always on, only dimmed briefly to flash other cars. In the pit lane, the linking of the dim function to the pit speed limiter ensures that the BMW Team MTEK crew is not blinded during pit stops.
As well as the fact that the BMW M8 GTE is the first racing car in the history of BMW Motorsport to see action before its production counterpart, this is also the first time the light system has been developed specifically for motorsport.
“Never before has BMW Motorsport developed lights specifically for a race car. Up until now, race cars have used powerful production headlights that have simply been made lighter,” added Bichler. The goal for Le Mans was to provide the drivers with as much light as possible. As such, the maximum potential light output was calculated and simulated in advance, as were the necessary cooling and optimal heat dissipation.
The LEDs for this high-performance light system came from Osram. Each of the main headlights uses six Oslon Black Flat S LEDs (three-chip version), which are compact. For the auxiliary headlights, the Olstar Headlamp was selected and specifically developed for applications requiring bright light.
In order to keep the weight as low as possible, the housings for the main and auxiliary headlights are made of carbon fiber, as are the reflectors, which are then coated with chrome.
The iconic double circular lights, with two LED rings, serve as daytime running lights and indicators. While the heatsink element in the main headlights is relatively unspectacular, the cooling element in the auxiliary headlights is far more sophisticated. It not only holds the LEDs, but also leads hot air away from the LEDs via channels and cooling fins. This hot air could otherwise affect the performance of the LED. When designing the cooling elements and headlight housing, additive manufacturing 3D printing techniques were used. That way, it was possible to produce a set of four headlights in just 72 hours.