Having bid farewell to Formula One, BMW will intensify its involvement in GT and touring car racing in the forthcoming year. The company released details of its 2010 motorsport programme on Saturday at the BMW Sports Trophy Award Ceremony in Munich (DE). The BMW M3 GT2 will see action in selected GT races, primarily the 24-hour classics. The BMW drivers will fight for victories in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), and will be setting their sights on the titles. BMW will continue its successful promotion of young talent in the Formula BMW Europe and Formula BMW Pacific series, which feature on the same bill as Formula One races. Customer racing also remains an important component for BMW Motorsport: a BMW Z4, which complies with GT3 regulations, will be added to the range of products for private teams.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen says: “I am pleased that we are able to offer our fans an attractive motorsport programme in the first year since our withdrawal from Formula One. In production car racing, BMW has enjoyed countless triumphs throughout the course of its long racing history – whether with close-to-production touring cars or imposing GT sports cars.
We want to follow on from this success in 2010, in both the World Touring Car Championship and the ALMS. In addition, our programme will include works entries at 24-hour classics for the first time since 2005. Promoting junior racing drivers remains an important pillar of our activities: Formula BMW Europe is once again a permanent feature in the general Formula One programme, and we will also be supporting talented youngsters in Formula BMW Pacific as they take their first steps in single-seater racing. Furthermore, we will also expand our customer racing programme, and will be offering a new car in the form of a BMW Z4 that complies with GT3 regulations. In general, we are well positioned to demonstrate the performance of our cars to our customers around the world in 2010.”
BMW will be represented at numerous GT events by its long-term test and development team Schnitzer Motorsport. The focus of this commitment is on the classic 24-hour races. As well as the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring (DE), it is also planned for the BMW M3 GT2 to start in Le Mans (FR) and Spa-Francorchamps (BE). BMW Motorsport is currently in positive discussions with organisers and governing bodies regarding the approval of the car.
In addition, and as preparation for these classics, the programme also includes race starts in the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring and in the Le Mans Series (LMS). Jörg Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE), who joins the 2010 BMW works drivers line-up, will be the regular drivers for the GT races. Works drivers Andy Priaulx (GB), Augusto Farfus (BR) and Dirk Müller (DE) will also be involved with the GT programme. Uwe Alzen (DE) and Dirk Adorf (DE) complete the strong squad for the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.
As last year, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team, under the flag of BMW of North America, will send two BMW M3 GT2 cars into battle for the GT2 title in the ALMS. In 2009 Bobby Rahal’s (US) team celebrated a one-two result at Road America (US) and finished on the podium seven times. Next year the driving quartet will once again consist of Dirk Müller, Tommy Milner (US), Bill Auberlen (US) and Joey Hand (US).
BMW will be lining up in a different format to previous years in the World Touring Car Championship. Priaulx and Farfus will be battling for points and victories as team-mates. Bart Mampaey’s (BE) RBM team will be responsible for the two BMW 320si WTCCs. While Priaulx won three World Championship titles between 2005 and 2007, Farfus was the most successful BMW driver last season with six victories and third place overall. The two drivers have a combined total of 27 victories so far in the World Touring Car Championship.
In past years, Formula BMW has proven to be the ideal springboard into the world of Formula One for many drivers. Last season alone, five former BMW drivers lined up in this series – and with great success. Nico Rosberg (DE), Timo Glock (DE), Adrian Sutil (DE) and Sébastien Buemi (CH) all scored World Championship points. Sebastian Vettel (DE) even celebrated four Grand Prix victories and finished the season as runner-up in the Drivers’ Championship, behind Jenson Button (GB). Nicolas Hülkenberg (DE) and Bruno Senna (BR) will join the quintet in 2010 as regular F1 drivers. A number of other Formula BMW graduates can also hope to get a taste of Formula One as test and reserve drivers.