For over a decade now, BMW has had its racing program directed by one man: Mario Theissen. Having joined the Bavarian automaker as a development engineer back in 1977, Theissen became the company's motorsport director in 1999, driving BMW onto the Formula One grid as an engine supplier to Williams before spearheading its acquisition of the Sauber team, which he then ran until the BMW's withdrawal from the sport at the end of the 2009 season. Since then he's been overseeing the construction of the carmaker's racing programs, but he's now stepping down to make way for new leadership.
Taking the reins in Theissen's place will be one Jens Marquardt, who – similar to his mustached predecessor – directed Toyota's Formula One program until it, too, withdrew from the grid. Prior to joining Toyota Motorsport in 2000, Marquardt worked on F1 and Indy engine development at Ilmor Engineering. He'll take over at BMW Motorsport on July 1, working in tandem with Theissen for six months as the company's new DTM program takes shape. Details in the press release after the jump.
Change at the top of BMW Motorsport: Mario Theissen to hand over to Jens Marquardt on 1 July 2011.
Munich, 24 November 2010. After more than 12 uninterrupted years, a changeover at the head of BMW Motorsport is in the offing. On 30 June 2011, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen will pass on the baton to his successor Jens Marquardt and retire from his post. 43-year-old Marquardt will join the company on 1 January 2011, going dual with Theissen for the first six months of the year to familiarise himself with his new task. This will ensure the seamless execution of the 2011 racing programme and preparations for the 2012 DTM project.
"We have planned and prepared this changeover very carefully," explains Theissen. "With the realignment of BMW Motorsport and the decision in favour of the DTM project, the path to a successful future on the race track has been mapped out. Now is also the best time to entrust the leadership of BMW Motorsport to new hands. I have no doubt that in Jens Marquardt we have found the right man for this exciting task and I look forward to our time working together. On 1 July 2011 he will be perfectly equipped to take over the reins."
Marquardt comments: "Heading up BMW Motorsport is a dream job for me and a tremendous show of confidence. The endurance events with the BMW M3, the broad-based customer sport programme, the promotion of junior racing talent, and above all the DTM project are all fascinating challenges. I know that Mario Theissen will support me in every way and I can hardly wait to get down to work."
Theissen first joined BMW on 15 June 1977 as a development engineer. He took on various responsibilities in engine development before going on to run the BMW Innovation Centres in Munich and Palo Alto. Theissen has been in charge of BMW's motor sport programme since 1 April 1999.
Marquardt was born on 20 May 1967. After a degree in aerospace technology, he turned to a career in engine development. From 1996 to 2000 he worked for Ilmor Engineering on the development of Formula One and CART engines. He joined Toyota Motorsport in 2000, initially working in the Formula One engine department, and then from 2008 as F1 Operations and Team Manager. His most recent post was as General Manager Business Development, Operations & Production.