As we posted this earlier morning, it has been confirmed by BMW that they’re withdrawing factory teams from the World Touring Car Championship. This announcement comes as part of a bigger new brief announced at the BMW Sport Trophy Award Ceremony held in Munich, Germany just yesterday.
Among the announcements was, of course, the change in the WTCC strategy and the factory support of customer teams with the newly developed 1.6 liter turbocharged, direct injection 4 cylinder – also the same engine BMW will use to power the MINI entry into the World Rally Championship. Also, expect to see continued development of the BMW M3 GT across both the American and European continents. Below are a few bullet points that highlight BMW Motorsport’s plans for 2011:
New Director of BMW Motorsport
The biggest change will be the retirement of Dr. Mario Theissen from the role of Director of BMW Motorsport. Dr Theissen has spent his entire career with BMW and held the office of Director of Motorsport for over 10 years since ascending to the position in 1999. His replacement has been named as 43 year old Jens Marquardt. Both Theissen and Marqurdt will share the Director roll from January 1st to June 30th to ease the transition of the role and effective July 1, 2011, Marquardt will take over full duties as Director of Motorsport.
BMW M3 – Centerpiece of Racing Activities
The M3 will continue to be the centerpiece of the BMW Motorsport program. After winning the constructor’s title in 2010, BMW will again field a team in the American Le Mans Series with the Rahal Letterman Racing Team. Concurrent with the U.S. based activity, BMW will also field the M3 GT with the help of Schnitzer in the GT2 class in many of the endurance races held annually in Europe. Most notably, expect to the M3 GT fight for victory at grand races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Nurburgring as part of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Expect the driver line-up from the 2010 season to remain unchanged. During our talks with Dr. Theissen, he confirmed that a lot of information sharing has been greatly beneficial from the American-based team and the European-based team for continued development of the M3 GT – we expect this trend to follow throughout the 2011 season, as well.
A Return to DTM
As already noted, the M3 is the largest piece of the BMW Motorsport program and will represent BMW during its entry back into the Germany-based DTM. BMW plans to spend 2011 continuing to refine their entry for the 2012 season – the M3 will serve as the platform for the DTM entry and should be similar to the road-going E92 M3 likely powered by a version of the popular S65 V8. DTM is currently in talks to expand its audience by moving races over to the United States and possibly in Asia as part of the Super GT series.
BMW Customer Programs
In addition to the supply of engines for existing privateer BMW 320 teams in the World Touring Car Championship, BMW also remains committed to its other major customer programs: The Z4 GT3 and the M3 GT4. With the Z4 GT3, BMW is hoping to see even better results of the already successful Z4 GT3 after only its first year.
Continued Driver Development
BMW will also remain committed to driver development as a means of cultivating the best drivers in the world to participate in on-going BMW Motorsport programs. For those unfamiliar, BMW has had great success in this arena with notable drivers like Sebastian Vettel cutting his teeth in Formula BMW a few years ago. Vettel just won the 2010 Formula One World Driver’s Championship as the youngest driver ever to do so.
See below for the full press release. As always, expect to see a great deal of content here on BMWBlog for all of BMW’s motorsport activities worldwide.
Source: BMW Group Press Club
- Press Release
Munich, 4th December 2010. BMW announced details concerning its 2011 motor racing programme during the BMW Sports Trophy Awards Ceremony held in Munich on Saturday. The company’s programme for the coming season has four main stays: Numerous campaigns with the BMW M3 GT2 in endurance racing, with a simultaneous ramping up of the successful Customer Racing programme. Preparations for BMW’s return to the DTM in 2012 are running flat out, while the brand’s decades-long young driver development commitment continues under the Formula BMW Talent Cup banner.
“The 2011 international motor racing season will once again see BMW play a major role,” said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. “Our chosen vehicle for endurance campaigns is the BMW M3 GT2, which not only celebrated victories in the 2010 American Le Mans Series, but also proved successful in Europe and Asia. The car will once again be campaigned in 24-hour classic events in Europe, and in the ALMS in North America. We are convinced we will be able build on the successes of this past year in order to continue the BMW M3’s unique motor racing success story.”
Theissen continued: “The BMW 320 TC, powered by the newly-developed 1.6-litre four-cylinder (DI-)turbo engine, will expand our Customer Racing offering, and be entered in the World Touring car Championship by private teams. The traditional BMW Sports Trophy and our new Formula BMW Talent Cup young driver programme complete our involvement. In parallel we are naturally pressing ahead with preparations for our return to the DTM. Development of the BMW M3 DTM is progressing very well.”
Jens Marquardt, who from 1st January 2011 will share responsibility for BMW’s motorsport activities before replacing Theissen on 1st July 2011, was publicly introduced in the BMW Welt’s Double Cone auditorium. “It is a privilege to meet the BMW Motorsport family ahead of officially joining the company,” said the 43-year-old. “BMW Motorsport’s programme is extremely comprehensive, and BMW fans across the world can look forward to a thrilling season. I am proud to be able to contribute to these projects from next year.”
Consistency in the cockpit.
The driver line-up for the BMW M3 GT2 campaigns remains unchanged. Andy Priaulx (GB), Augusto Farfus (BR), Dirk Müller (DE), Dirk Werner (DE), Jörg Müller (DE), Uwe Alzen (DE), Dirk Adorf (DE) and Pedro Lamy (PT) will race the BMW M3 GT2. As last year, it is planned to contest the big 24-hour races in Europe. A final confirmation for racing at the Nürburgring (DE), in Le Mans (FR) and in Spa-Francorchamps (BE) will be made depending on regulation decisions and the categorisation of the BMW M3 GT2. Participation in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) has yet to be confirmed for the same reason.
In preparation for the race on the “Green Hell”, it is planned to send the BMW M3 GT2 into action at numerous VLN rounds. The ILMC includes the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours plus events in the USA, Europe and Asia.
While BMW Team Schnitzer, which proved victorious in November’s 2010 ILMC season finale in Zhuhai (CN), will be responsible for European operations, BMW Team RLR (Rahal Letterman Racing) will race the BMW M3 GT2 in the US. Having claimed both the ALMS team and manufacturer titles in the GT category in 2010, the team, overseen by Bobby Rahal (US), aims to add the Drivers’ Championship. Dirk Werner joins the previous line-up of Dirk Müller, Bill Auberlen (US) and Joey Hand (US), all of whom will contest the full ALMS season.
FIA WTCC remains an important Customer Racing platform.
The FIA World Touring Car Championship remains an important Customer Racing platform, enabling private teams and drivers to demonstrate the potential of the BMW 320 TC at the highest level. The BMW 320 TC will compete for victories and titles in the Independents’ Trophy of the WTCC. Private teams and drivers will campaign the car – based on the successful BMW 320si WTCC, but fitted with the new 1.6-litre four-cylinder (DI-) turbo engine. The “TC” in its terminology stands for “Touring Car”. Therefore this car will represent BMW in the WTCC in 2011, although a works campaign is not planned. To date BMW Motorsport Distribution has delivered over 60 BMW 320si WTCC racing kits to customer teams across the world. The 1.6-litre unit fitted to the BMW 320 TC will enjoy parallel use in the MINI WRC, the car chosen by the cult MINI brand for its FIA World Rally Championship programme, which commences in 2011.
The two additional products in BMW’s Customer Racing range are the BMW Z4 GT3 and the BMW M3 GT4. The racing version of the BMW Z4 carved a strong reputation for itself in 2010, scoring numerous victories in the FIA GT3 European Championship, and posting strong results in endurance racing, while the BMW M3 GT4, a motorsport variant closely linked to the production car, enjoyed widespread popularity with customer teams.
BMW presence at DTM event in Olympic Stadium.
BMW confirmed its presence at the DTM event in Munich’s Olympic Stadium on 16th/17th July 2011. BMW Motorsport wants to use the opportunity of graphically presenting its history and tradition in the DTM in close proximity to the company’s headquarters – the “BMW Four-Cylinder” building.
First class coaching for young talents.
In 2011 BMW will again offer a comprehensive driver development programme with the new Formula BMW Talent Cup, which consistently prepares young talents for a career in motorsport. Dirk Adorf will provide advice and support to the participants. The highlight of this programme will be the grand finale, staged as part of the DTM event at Oschersleben. The winner will receive a fully-sponsored season in a more senior feeder category.