Following the conclusion of its intense preparation programme, the focus for Team BMW Motorsport is now on this weekend’s 24-hour race at the Nürburgring (DE). BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen, reveals the status of the team’s preparations, as well as the importance of GT racing for BMW, Team BMW Motorsport and its eight drivers.
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Mr Theissen, how would you sum up Team BMW Motorsport’s preparations for the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring?
Mario Theissen: “We are right on schedule. The performance of the BMW M3 GT2 in the specification for the Nordschleife has been good right from the word go. This was proven by the podium finishes in the VLN. We have been able to improve step by step. This also applies to the reliability of the car, which is obviously of crucial importance at a 24-hour race. Generally speaking, we are well prepared and looking forward to the endurance classic in the Eifel.”
How important is GT racing for the BMW brand?
Theissen: “GT racing offers us the opportunity to compare ourselves directly with some of our most important competitors. The BMW M3 is predestined for this task. The car has enjoyed a unique success story. Originally developed as a racing car, the series version of the M3 also epitomises pure sportiness. The fourth generation of the vehicle celebrated a very promising debut in America in 2009. We are now ready to compete in Europe with this car.”
Will the BMW M3 GT2 be able to follow on from the success enjoyed by its predecessors?
Theissen: “We are convinced it can. Every BMW M3 so far has been a winner. To a certain degree, we could see history repeated. The direct predecessor of today’s car, the BMW M3 GTR, also earned its spurs in the ALMS before causing a sensation in Europe. I look back happily on the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring in 2004 and 2005. Those two one-twos were fantastic.”
You still have a lot of the winning drivers from that time on board. Are you happy with the driver line-up?
Theissen: “More than that. We have added some experienced endurance drivers to what was already a strong team of works drivers. As a result, we now have a mixture of experience and speed, giving us everything we need to make it onto the podium. Jörg Müller, Dirk Müller, Andy Priaulx and Pedro Lamy have already been involved in victories with the BMW M3 GTR. Uwe Alzen and Dirk Adolf are real GT experts, particularly at the Nordschleife. On top of this, we also have our quick works drivers Dirk Werner and Augusto Farfus. This is a formidable line-up.”
And, as in the past, you rely on Schnitzer Motorsport…
Theissen: “Yes, Schnitzer Motorsport has notched up countless victories and titles for BMW. In 1999 Charly Lamm’s team won the 24-hour race in Le Mans with the BMW V12 LMR. Schnitzer was also responsible for the two BMW M3 GTRs in 2004 and 2005. Hardly anyone knows the endurance circuit better than this team. This is an important prerequisite for success. Motorsport is ultimately a team sport – that possibly applies to GT even more than sprints.”