It's been five years since BMW competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the M3 GT2 (shown above), and fans have been stuck watching the Bavarian brand compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with its M6 GT LM. The wait is over. BMW is returning to the FIA World Championship with a factory GTE program in 2018.

BMW will join Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, and Ford in the global racing series with a competitor in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. BMW hasn't announced what vehicle it will compete with, as the BMW M6 GTLM that competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is only legal for racing in that series at the moment.

Despite pulling out of the FIA WEC in 2011, BMW has a rich history of competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the automaker first running the grueling endurance race in the 1930s. In the late '70s, BMW competed with the 3.0 CSL and 3.5 CSL racecars, before entering the race with the M1 Procar. The automaker supplied its 6.1-liter V12 engines for the McLaren F1 GTR, which went on to victory in 1995. The automaker's first taste of victory as a constructor came in 1999 with the BMW V12 LMR that was made in conjunction with the Williams Grand Prix team.

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