Touring car racing fans are eagerly anticipating the return of BMW to the DTM series. The Bavarian automaker last competed in DTM (or its progenitors, anyway) a whopping 18 years ago, but late last year announced it would return to the German touring car series in 2012. Now it has revealed the means to that end.
Rather than field its own entries, BMW will be supplying the vehicles and factory support for three independent teams: BMW Team RBM, BMW Team Schnitzer and Reinhold Motorsport GmbH. Both RBM and Schnitzer have a longstanding relationship with BMW Motorsport, while Reinhold is a completely new outfit. Each of the teams will be fielding two of the new M3 DTMs that are currently under development.
The move to DTM comes on the back of some big shakeups in BMW's racing program. Although it pulled out of Formula One two years ago, and eliminated its works World Touring Car Championship effort at the end of last year, it has recently pitched the Mini division into the WRC with Prodrive and launched the DTM program to pick up where it left off in the WTCC. Follow the jump for the official announcement, along with three additional press releases – one from each of BMW's partner teams – for the true tin-top fanatics among us.
[Source: BMW Motorsport]
BMW Motorsport presents the teams for its DTM project.
BMW Motorsport heralds a new era on its way entering the DTM. Development of the car has been running at full speed in Munich for some months now, as has the central preparation for the logistics and assembly of the race cars. Three teams, each lining up with two BMW M3 DTM cars, will be responsible for the races themselves.
BMW Motorsport has enjoyed great success in production car racing in the past with both BMW Team RBM and BMW Team Schnitzer, and all those involved are hungry for more of the same. In Reinhold Motorsport GmbH they are joined by a new team still in its fledgling stage, but which boasts individual members with a vast wealth of motorsport experience.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director, says: "In recent months we have worked very intensely on the DTM project. The agreement with the teams was of paramount importance. We were pleased with the high level of interest and numerous applications and presentations received from a number of professional teams. The concepts presented by BMW Team RBM, BMW Team Schnitzer and Reinhold Motorsport GmbH ultimately convinced us. This is an excellent team line-up for BMW. For us, it is important that all three teams have absolute equal rights. We are looking forward to cooperating over the coming years – and hope to enjoy great success together."
Bart Mampaey, Team Manager of BMW Team RBM, says: "The DTM is one of the toughest and the most popular racing series in the world for production cars. From a sporting point of view this poses a great challenge – but an appetizing one. We are honoured to be able to continue our successful cooperation with BMW Motorsport, which has yielded many WTCC titles, in the DTM. We still have a lot of work ahead of us over the coming months, and are now looking forward to getting to grips with the project."
Stefan Reinhold, founder of Reinhold Motorsport GmbH, says: "In April last year, BMW announced its intention to compete in the DTM. From this day on, we have always wanted to be a part of this project. Shortly after the announcement, we presented our concept to BMW in Munich, and started to work on meeting the prerequisites for any potential cooperation. We are very proud to have been given the nod. To be part of the BMW Motorsport family with immediate effect and to strive for DTM success together is simply fantastic. We can hardly wait to get started and to vindicate the huge amount of trust BMW has placed in us."
Charly Lamm, Team Manager of BMW Team Schnitzer, adds: "We are really looking forward to tackling the DTM project together with BMW. Schnitzer Motorsport has enjoyed a successful past in the DTM and achieved many victories together with BMW. However, past success is no guarantee that we will also be victorious in the future. The bar is set really high in DTM, and our preparations will be intensive to meet this challenge. Every team is highly motivated and the anticipation is mounting every day as we get closer to the start of the 2012 DTM season."
BMW Team Schnitzer will run two BMW M3 GT cars for BMW Motorsport at the major endurance races in Europe and Asia. BMW Team RBM is involved in BMW customer racing projects, including the development of the BMW 320 TC and the further development of the BMW Z4 GT3.
Mario Theissen says: "While the preparation for this year's involvement on the endurance racing circuit with the BMW M3 GT is in its final phase, the DTM project has picked up pace over the past few months. In naming the teams, we have taken the next step. As well as developing the car, it is now a matter of assigning tasks and establishing structures and processes. The cooperation between BMW Motorsport and the teams, as well as that between the team bases and the race track, must be well established. Only then will we make a statement regarding the driving line-up."
BMW Team RBM in profile.
In 2012, BMW Team RBM will compete in the DTM with three world championship titles to its name. Under the leadership of Team Manager Bart Mampaey, the team from Mechelen, Belgium, not only won the 2004 European Touring Car Championship with Andy Priaulx at the wheel, but also proved to be the team to beat in the World Championship...
BMW Team RBM in profile.
In 2005, 2006 and 2007 the celebrations after the final WTCC race in Macau all took place in front of the RBM garage. Bart Mampaey is now looking forward to the DTM. "Competing in the DTM will be a big challenge for our team," he says. "We are delighted that BMW is putting its faith in us again. We will use the time leading up to the first race to prepare as well as possible. The whole team is extremely motivated and hungry to get on with the development work. It is fantastic to be on board right from the start when a manufacturer like BMW launches this kind of project. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, as the standards in the DTM are extremely high."
Efficiency is an important factor in daily work for BMW Team RBM. Mampaey is constantly striving to use time and resources efficiently, in order to extract the full potential of the car. The team profits from the infrastructure of the BMW dealership, which the Mampaey family manages under the name JUMA. Synergies and allows RBM to concentrate on the basics: the performance on the race track.
JUMA stands for Julian Mampaey. Today's RBM boss inherited his love of motor sport from his father. The JUMA team made a name for itself in the 1970s and 1980s, claiming three overall victories for BMW at the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race. Nine years after the final JUMA race, Bart Mampaey stepped into his father's footsteps in 1995. At first, RBM was responsible for the cars in the BMW Compact Cup in Belgium. Soon after that, the Mampaey family celebrated a successful comeback at Spa: the Group N one-two in the 1997 24-hour race was followed by overall victory with the BMW 318i one year later. This was also the last overall victory for BMW to date at the "Ardennes Rollercoaster".
RBM sent a BMW 320i to the European Touring Car Championship for BMW Belgium for the first time in 2002. One year later the team appeared for the first time in the colours of BMW Great Britain, and Priaulx was signed up to drive. After a year gaining experience in 2003, RBM caused a sensation in 2004 when Priaulx claimed the ETCC title in Dubai. Three World Championship titles show categorically that this victory was not a flash in the pan for Mampaey and his crew.
"A change of scenery will do us good, particularly when we have the prospect of lining up in a successful series like the DTM," Mampaey says. "Having won three World Championship titles, everyone in the team is looking forward to seeing how we fair against the other teams in the DTM."
Back to the future.
Back to the future: this could be the motto of BMW Team Schnitzer for the 2012 DTM season. Charly Lamm's team sported BMW colours in this series back in the 1980s and 1990s – and with great success. A Schnitzer driver crossed the finish line in first place in a BMW M3 on 17 occasions, and the team also claimed eight pole positions and set 18 fastest laps.
BMW Team Schnitzer's greatest success in the DTM came in its very first season, when Roberto Ravaglia won the 1989 drivers' title for the team from Freilassing. BMW Team Schnitzer will make its DTM comeback in 2012, almost 20 years after its last victory in Hockenheim on 11th October 1992.
"We lined up with the BMW M3 in the DTM for the first time in 1989, and were able to win the title with Roberto Ravaglia at the first attempt," Lamm recalls. "The four seasons up to 1992 were a great time, with spectacular and thrilling races, which will always have a special place in the history of Schnitzer. Even back then, the DTM was extremely popular in Germany. It is now almost 20 years since our last DTM race. We are well aware that the series has changed dramatically. The level of competition is extremely high and the series has a far more international flavour to it. As a result, rookies like us face a huge challenge. However, we will approach the task in hand with great verve."
During the break from the DTM, the Schnitzer team continued to line up for BMW, adding many new chapters to the brand's motorsport success story. In 1999 it claimed overall victory at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours (FR) with the BMW V12 LMR prototype. In 2001, BMW Team Schnitzer won the drivers', team and manufacturers' titles in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with the BMW M3 GTR.
The team also has a very special relationship with the legendary 24-hour race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife (DE). BMW Team Schnitzer finished as overall winner in the "Green Hell" in 1989, 1990, 2004, 2005 and 2010, making it one of the most successful teams in the history of this classic race. Schnitzer also enjoyed success after success in the European Touring Car Championship between 2002 and 2004, as well as the World Touring Car Championship between 2005 and 2009. The team's drivers crossed the finish line as winners on 45 occasions in the European and World Championships.
In the last 50 years, Schnitzer has won 16 championships with BMW – including the 1987 World Touring Car Championship, three European Touring Car Championships, and championships in Germany, England, Italy, Japan and South East Asia.
Lamm adds: "We will attempt to readapt to the DTM as quickly as possible. We have great respect for the current manufacturers and teams in the DTM. They have set the bar very high. From now on we will be working on equalling, or even surpassing, the standards they have set as soon as possible."
"Our greatest asset is definitely the people in our team".
Stefan Reinhold's team, which will line up at BMW's DTM comeback in 2012, may be a newcomer to the series – but its members are by no means lacking experience. The team's great strengths are its individual know-how and the precise way in which it uses each member's skills.
"The crew comes from all areas of professional motor racing," Reinhold explains. "From GT racing and the World Rally Championship, as well as DTM and Formula One. Almost all the team members have experience gained in several fields of motorsport. They are used to working at the highest level. Clear communication and the optimal use of experience and resources, as well as uncompromising commitment, are fundamental attributes of the team. Our greatest asset is definitely the people in our team."
The team structure started with a blank sheet of paper. Reinhold took the time to analyse the individual strengths of his crew and used this as a basis to assemble his team step by step. By the start of 2012, 25 engineers and technicians will be involved in the DTM project.
Reinhold himself has Formula One and GT racing experience to his name and has been toying with the idea of launching his own racing team for a long time. When BMW announced its return to DTM this idea took shape and work began on the conception. "In late summer 2010 we started with the concrete planning and then applied to BMW with our concept in the autumn," Reinhold recalls. "The fact that we won BMW Motorsport over with our concept is the perfect reward for the hard work we put in during this phase."
The team has moved into headquarters in Niederzissen. The proximity to the Nürburgring is not the only reason for motor racing being omnipresent on the team's premises, as its former tenant was also a prominent name in motorsport: the Zakspeed team previously operated from this site and has now rented the facilities out to Reinhold.
Over the coming months, Reinhold and his team will work at full speed on the team structure in order to be ready for the first test drive with the BMW M3 DTM. "Everything from the washers to the semi-trailer will be new in our team," says Reinhold. "However, I do not by any means see this as a disadvantage. We are very keen to take on the established DTM teams and, along with our partner BMW, to be competitive as soon as possible."