BMW Motorsport has set its course for the 2018 season. At the traditional Season Review event in Munich (GER), BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt (GER) presented the extensive program, as well as the drivers and teams involved.
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Next year’s activities range from the return to Le Mans (FRA) in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) with the new BMW M8 GTE, to the works program in the DTM and preparations for entering the FIA Formula E Championship with a works team in Season 5.
The updated BMW M6 GT3 will also be in action in GT classics at the Nürburgring (GER) and in Bathurst (AUS), to name but a few. The new BMW M4 GT4 will contest its first season in the hands of private BMW drivers around the world. 2018 will also see BMW Brand Ambassador Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) commence his preparations for the 24 Hours of Daytona (USA) the following year.
“As of 2018, the strategical realignment of motorsport under the roof of the BMW Group will become operational,” said Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of BMW AG, Development. “Our goal is to be successful and capable of winning with BMW M and BMW i. Motorsport will take on the function of an innovation and high-performance hub. I am looking forward to the coming year. Alongside DTM we will tackle exciting new challenges such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the new BMW M8 GTE and our first Formula E race at the end of the year.”
DTM: Philipp Eng and Joel Eriksson join the BMW squad.
In 2018, BMW Motorsport will go into its seventh season since returning to the DTM in 2012 with six BMW M4 DTM cars and two teams. Like last year, BMW Team RMG and BMW Team RBM will both run three cars. Two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann (GER), Timo Glock (GER) and Augusto Farfus (BRA) will continue to drive for Stefan Reinhold’s (GER) RMG team. BMW Team RBM welcomes two new faces into the fold. 2012 champion Bruno Spengler (CAN) is joined by BMW works driver Philipp Eng (AUT) and former BMW Motorsport Junior Joel Eriksson (SWE), who will both be making their DTM debuts.
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt: “Continuity and experience are very important in the DTM. At the same time, we also wanted to provide some new impetus in 2018. I would like to thank Maxime Martin for the super cooperation and all the success they have achieved in recent years. He has taken on a new challenge outside of BMW Motorsport. Tom Blomqvist makes the switch to Formula E. Philipp Eng and Joel Eriksson have made it into the DTM squad on the back of strong performances last year, and having made a very good impression at the Young Driver Test. I am confident that they will also do well in the BMW M4 DTM. After Marco’s victory at the 2017 season finale, we carry plenty of momentum into our preparations for the new season.”
Joel Eriksson: “When I joined BMW, it was always my goal to make it to the top, to make it to the DTM. It’s fantastic that I have achieved this. I am really looking forward to working with BMW Team RBM. As I’ve come from Formula 3 the handling of the BMW M4 DTM is not that unfamiliar to me. I think I will get used to it quickly.”
Philipp Eng: “I still can’t quite believe that I really will be a BMW DTM driver in 2018. The DTM has always been with me, because I was competing in the supporting series for a long time and have often been on site for BMW over the past two years. My dream has always been to drive a DTM car. This dream came true with my test in the BMW M4 DTM and it’s incredible that now I am being given a regular drive. I first experienced single-seater racing in Formula BMW in 2006. Now I have made it to one of BMW Motorsport’s top programmes. No doubt it will be a big challenge for me, but as they say: you grow with your tasks.”
FIA WEC: Stage set for the new BMW M8 GTE.
After intense preparations, BMW Team MTEK and team principal Ernest Knoors (NED) will field two new BMW M8 GTE cars when BMW Motorsport makes its debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC). The regular drivers for the complete season will be Nick Catsburg (NED), Augusto Farfus, António Félix da Costa (POR) and Martin Tomczyk (GER). Over the course of the season, they will be supported at individual races by BMW works drivers Tom Blomqvist (GBR), Philipp Eng and Alexander Sims (GBR).
Jens Marquardt says: “The drivers in our WEC squad have been intensely involved in the development work on the BMW M8 GTE from the outset. The combination of GT experience and race talent means we are ideally positioned to achieve good results in our first season in uncharted territory. After the intense months spent developing the car, everyone at BMW Motorsport is extremely motivated ahead of the first races in 2018.”
IMSA: American-European teamwork.
The new BMW M8 GTE will also be in action in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) in 2018. In the hands of BMW Team RLL and team principal Bobby Rahal (USA), the new car will make its race debut on the final weekend in January, at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Americans Connor De Phillippi and John Edwards will contest the entire season at the wheel of the two cars. De Phillippi is a newcomer to the BMW Motorsport family. The two regular European drivers are Alexander Sims and former BMW Motorsport Junior Jesse Krohn (FIN). New BMW NA Brand Ambassador Bill Auberlen (USA), Nick Catsburg, Philipp Eng and Augusto Farfus will also drive for the team in endurance races.
Jens Marquardt says: “The commitment in North America remains a central pillar of the BMW Motorsport racing programme in 2018. Our partnership with BMW Team RLL is entering its tenth year. To mark the anniversary, Bobby Rahal’s team will race with two new BMW M8 GTEs. In Connor De Phillippi, we have brought another absolute GT specialist into the team. I am also pleased to see our former BMW Motorsport Junior Jesse Krohn promoted to the works programme. At this point, I would like to once again express my respect for Bill Auberlen. No other driver has been as closely associated with BMW as he has. 400 races for one manufacturer – that is unique. It is nice to have him on board at the big races again in 2018.”
FIA Formula E Championship: Building for the future.
Season 4 of the FIA Formula E Championship is in full swing, having begun two weeks ago in Hong Kong (CHN). For BMW, the collaboration with the MS&AD Andretti Formula E Team, and its owner Michael Andretti (USA), will intensify over the coming season. In Season 5 BMW will enter the series with a works team. António Félix da Costa is the regular driver for Season 4. As of race three in Marrakech (MAR) in January, Andretti has named BMW works driver Tom Blomqvist for the seat in the second car. He switches from the DTM to the Formula E series. Alexander Sims will be the official reserve driver for the team.
Jens Marquardt says: “For us, Formula E is the ideal platform for the mobility of the future, and the perfect test laboratory for the BMW iNEXT. In no other programme is the transfer of technology between motor racing and production as intense as in Formula E. In close collaboration with the MS&AD Andretti team, our engineers and drivers are being integrated to gain stronger awareness and understanding as we near Season 5. We are pleased to have two of our drivers in action as of the race in Marrakech, in the form of Tom Blomqvist and António Félix da Costa. We are confident that Tom will be competitive alongside António.”
Further GT races: The BMW M6 GT3 returns with the Evo package.
The endurance classic at the Nürburgring (GER) will once again be the highlight of the European GT series for BMW in 2018. BMW Motorsport will compete with the updated BMW M6 GT3. ROWE Racing and Falken Motorsports are set to run the BMW M6 GT3 with Evo package on the Nordschleife. BMW Team Schnitzer and BMW Team SRM will both field one BMW M6 GT3 at the 12h Bathurst (AUS) in February. Augusto Farfus, Chaz Mostert (AUS) and Marco Wittmann will drive for BMW Team Schnitzer. Team principal Steve Richards (NZL), Philipp Eng and Timo Glock will be at the wheel for BMW Team SRM. Timo Scheider (GER) will also form part of the BMW GT driver line-up again in 2018, contesting races in the ADAC GT Masters.
Jens Marquardt says: “We will once again be prominently represented at selected GT classics with works-assisted customer teams – primarily ROWE Racing – in 2018. After finishing runner-up this year, we obviously have a score to settle with the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. We also want to play a major role in Bathurst. With that in mind, we will strengthen the teams with BMW works drivers and support them with engineers.”
Road to Daytona: New racing project for Alessandro Zanardi.
For BMW Brand Ambassador Alessandro Zanardi, the 2018 season will primarily be about preparing for one special race: in 2019, the BMW works driver will make a spectacular return to North American motorsport at the 24 Hours of Daytona, where he will drive the BMW M8 GTE. Details will be announced at a later date. Over the course of the season, Zanardi and the BMW Motorsport engineers will work on a new brake system, which will allow him to race without his artificial limbs.
Jens Marquardt says: “I am delighted that we will be working with Alessandro Zanardi on this new project in 2018. It was his great desire to return to North America for another big race. We are only too happy to make that possible. The fans at Daytona can look forward to a real highlight with Alex and the BMW M8 GTE in 2019.”
Customer Racing: Private teams race with the BMW M4 GT4.
The GT4 class is currently experiencing a boom – and BMW Motorsport is recognising this development in 2018 with the new BMW M4 GT4. Following intense test work, the customer racing car will make its debut in the hands of private BMW teams around the world. The BMW M4 GT4 will be in action in a host of different international racing series. The first highlight will be the 24 Hours of Dubai (UAE) on the second weekend in January. The updated BMW M6 GT3 will also do battle for race wins and titles in high-quality GT racing series all over the world. The BMW M235i Racing remains an established element of the BMW Motorsport customer racing programme and will be in action in the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring, within the BMW M235i Racing Cup, in the North American Pirelli World Challenge and in many other series. BMW Motorsport will support customer teams around the world with well-known drivers like Jens Klingmann (GER), Markus Palttala (FIN) and Stef Dusseldorp (NED).
Jens Marquardt says: “Customer racing has been part of the BMW Motorsport’s DNA for almost 60 years. With the new BMW M4 GT4 and the Evo package for the BMW M6 GT3, we are confident that we are able to offer our private teams fantastic cars, with which they can continue to successfully represent the BMW brand as ambassadors around the world. Furthermore, the tried-and-tested BMW M235i Racing is the perfect entry-level model. The commitment shown by our private drivers and teams around the world cannot be overestimated.”
BMW Motorsport Junior programme: Focus on continuity.
BMW Motorsport will continue its long tradition of promoting talented youngsters in 2018. Following the promotion of Joel Eriksson to the DTM, Ricky Collard (GBR), Mikkel Jensen (DEN), Dennis Marschall (GER), Nico Menzel (GER) and Beitske Visser (NED) will be part of the programme next year. They will compete in races in the BMW M6 GT3 and the BMW M4 GT4. Tests in the BMW M4 DTM and the BMW M8 GTE are also planned. Fitness and mental training also remain key elements of the Juniors’ training.
Jens Marquardt says: “The promotion of talented youngsters is a tradition stretching back 40 years at BMW. I am particularly pleased that two Juniors have made the step up into our works programme at the end of the anniversary year in 2017, in the form of Joel Eriksson and Jesse Krohn. That proves how successful our programme is. We are looking forward to continuing to support and accompany our talented youngsters on their career paths.”