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Dear Edo Popken Fans and Clients,
Its about time to share a story and one of my favorite hobbies that has evolved to become a new Start Up for me. In early 2015 it began with a small crowd of car enthusiasts invited by an innovative local Swiss Bank during a delicious Dinner overlooking the stunning city of Zürich. One of the key figures during the development of the BMW i8 Hybrid Sportscar provided meaningful insights into the entire process from R&D through prototypes until the final product which launched late 2014. The 2008 M1 Hommage provided first hints to what finally became the i8 but not with a traditional combustion engine. The i8 was powered by the latest hybrid powertrain developed in Munich. A 1.5 liter 3 Cylinder Turbo cranking out 231hp to the rear wheels plus an electric motor delivering an instant 96kw and 250 Nm of torque totaling 362hp combined.
A few month later the that year I became the first and only BMW i8 Brand Ambassador to drive an i8 from BMW GROUP AG Switzerland for a Full year and was granted 30k km or~19.000mls
Within the first few months I started enjoying the car so much that it was hard to stay within the mileage I was granted. I started to talk to clients, sales staff and drivers of other brands. As a huge fan of the legendary M1 Procar from the late 70s I decided to build a racecar using the i8 base. In 2016/2017 I returned my protonic blue i8 and received a protonic red Edition for another year. I then decided to buy the car after the end of that year in order to get authorization to modify the i8. The market only offered visual tuning components for the i8 but there was one i8 with incredible performance. The i8 Safetycar of the formula e. I reached out to the same Key person during development and after intense conversations about my ambitious project received my first Safetycar parts installed. The only Aerodynamic components for the i8 developed and tested in the BMW AERO LAB as well as new Suspension parts, improved engine cooling and a lightweight Carbon Fiber trunk lid.
At the same time I decided to become a partial owner of the BILSTERBERG drive resort which houses the most exciting track layout I had ever seen and drive on. It is now owned by 120 enthusiasts. The development of a true racecar needs a consistent environment for testing in order to prove the progress of all further developments.
The next steps included BMW Motorsport brakes and further reduction of weight. The goal was set to reduce the power/weight ratio from 4.4kg/hp to 3kg/hp which is a fraction better then what the 500hp M4GTS achieved.
In order to eliminate more mass I had the chance to talk directly to the product management team in Munich and received extremely valuable insights. While the 2018 Safetycar received the 2019 bigger battery and an extra 9KW in e-power the rest of the car remained unchanged.
In 2018 I was able to get my Ambassador contact renewed again and became one of the first 18 owners/drivers of the i8 Roadster. But not just any Roadster. Number 6/18 i8 Club Edition which were taken from the 200 First Edition Models - the only cars sporting matching chassis numbers. I felt extremely lucky and thankful at the same time. Special Thanks to BMWi and Claus Dieter Bachmann our President and founder of the Club.
During the 2018 racing season I layed the grounds for the next level of development to go from a Safetycar spec i8 to my own i8 Procar. The key to the next level of lightweight and further improved downforce was my newfound Partner/Friend who is simply a genius in the development and production of Carbon fiber MOTORSPORT components. He and his team including his two sons are making parts and even complete bodies for some of the worlds most renowned Motorsport Teams. During the wintermonths the red coupe underwent the most serious modifications and received numerous upgrades.
2019 after several major setbacks we finally got to the point where we were able to achieve a significantly better LapTime then at the end of 2018. And we achieved our goal in powe to weight ratio of 2.99kg per hp. Now we can officially call our i8 ProCar GT321 while the 2 stands for the : signaling the ratio 3:1.
As we did all of this the i8 finds itself within its fifth year of production and the usual lifeline in this segment is 5-6 years. In the high-tech world of hybrid sports cars with the extreme pace of development it seems to be close to the end. In my chosen home country for over 25 years the i8 remains popular and despite the arrival of the Roadster - the coupe seems to be an attractive proposition for the modern Swiss Driver.
Until now I had done all of this motivated solely by my passion for the M1 and the i8 and because I don’t like to drive an average car. It needs to be special, technically as well as aesthetically. I can truly say that I love the design and drivability of the i8.
When you least expect it but are working hard magical things happen. In Spring 2019 BMWi Switzerland approached me and asked if I were interested in creating an Edo Popken Edition of the i8 for the Swiss Market. You can imagine my immediate response.
As you read this we are working on this Edition with my internal Code i8 CSL. And the best thing about it is that we will offer a CLUB SPORT package for all customers. Engineered Racing Components by Edo Popken alias EDO Motorsport
Since BMWi Switzerland wasn’t able to supply the i8 LCI Coupe in time as was initially planned we needed to respond quickly to maintain our release schedule which was set for the BBOC SOMMERFEST at Bilsterberg Drive Resort August of 2019. Just in time for The Launch of the i8 Roadster Safetycar we decided to show the i8RSL (Roadster sport Light) instead of the i8CSL (Coupé Sport Light).
The Major performance relevant modifications to the car started with our EM (EDO Motorsport) Aero kit which includes carbon fiber front splitter derived from the formula e safety car but street legal - painted in jet black, airflow side skirts as well as the diffusor which included an extended underpinning and our newly engineered air shutter. More downforce with as little drag as possible is key. The carbon canards are a slightly smaller version of the ones used on the safety-car in order to legalize them for road use.
All added components weigh just 6.88kg. Another huge impact on LapTimes comes from the wider EM GT forged wheels and tires. 9x20 front and 10x20 rear with Michelin supersport rubber only add 3.6kg despite a significantly wider tread. Weight was then reduced by replacing the trunk cover with a new version of the Formula E vented carbon bonnet (without wing) which includes the ECUs used for the GPS and the antenna itself. Further gains were made by the lighter catalytic converter, optimized heat shielding and airflow.
The sound module delete saves another 5kg and has become obsolete thanks to the modified lighter sport exhaust. Finally, a i8 specific lithium ion starter battery under the front hood with carbon housing anti-theft and kill switch saves another 12.2 kg over the OEM part. With these significant modifications the only thing missing was more power. Therefore, we decided to use our modified turbo charger without touching the mapping in order to stay within the legal emissions values.
We added about 20% of power and torque to immediately achieve a laptime of 1:57.555 which was 1 second quicker than the fastest lap a modified lighter i8 Coupé was ever able to produce @bilsterberg and that with Horst von Saurma one of the worlds best test-drivers behind the wheel. Mission accomplished! Our i8 RSL is the worlds fastest i8 Roadster shaving 12 seconds per lap off of the base model.
A few weeks later we were able to finally get an LCI Coupé with the help of BMWi Netherlands. It had a few miles on the odometer assuming it was broken in. The perfect car to become our new i8CSL with the R package named i8CSL-R. Giga amido with dry carbon interior trim, and the absence of the heavy lazer headlights. For us the ultimate BMW Coupé must be blue. At least the first one we build. Since the only i8 that ever came in blue was the 2014/2015 protonic Coupé it was an easy task to find the perfect paint. It needed to be unique with some R-Racing spirit in the name.
Thanks to BMW Individual we mixed a special formula of the legendary LeMans blue. Each panel was taken off - the car entirely stripped to the bones - carefully painted and reassembled in factory quality. All major RSL modifications are carried over to the CSL-R. New to the body is the lightweight full carbon front hood replacing the aluminum part with fully functional brackets. The R gets a rear seat delete and a new form carpet to replace the original to become a 2-seater. The glass trunk lid is replaced by the carbon fiber part from the formula e safety car (without the wing).
The upper control arms on the front suspension are replaced by newly engineered ones with adjustable camber. An important part to further reduce understeer. As the lightweight carbon bucket seats are about to get certified the big brake kit is already installed featuring 400mm floating carbon ceramic discs with forged alloy 6 piston calipers from the M division and 380mm discs in the rear using the same compound. Despite the super car braking distance of 30.8m from 100-0km/h the massive brakes further reduce the rotational mass of the car by 2.5kg each side which leads to 15-20kg of weight reduction while driving fast.
Three more major weight saving adaptations are currently in the works including a road legal titanium exhaust saving another 8kg. Heat kills power. Noticeably while driving hard for longer. Therefore our newly developed turbo gets additional cooling - so does the transmission oil. Additional hi-tech heat shielding is applied from the manifold all the way until the end of the exhaust. The power output accurately measured by using Dynapack and varies between 450 and 480hp and 720-780Nm of torque depending on fuel quality.
Our fastest Bilsterberg lap in March 2020 was measured at 1:55,456 an impressive increase in speed over the already quick i8RSL. Once all components are installed and tested as well as legalized for road use we will be running low 1:54.xxx laptimes on Michelin Cup2 and should be able to run 2:00,xxx laps without e-boost. On the road that means that you will be able to accelerate from 100-200km/h just above 7sec matching the most powerful BMWs the M GmbH has to offer. The street legal i8 SUPERCAR has become Reality!
Follow me on Instagram and Facebook to stay tuned.