BMW Motorsport announced its 2011 plans in Munich on Saturday, December 4. BMW will return to the ALMS, will continue to campaign the M3 GT2 in Europe, and will participate in the World Touring Car Championship with customer cars, but with no factory team.
The two car Rahal Letterman Racing team will return to defend its American Le Mans Series GT2 championship with a slightly revised driver lineup. Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, and Dirk Müller will be back, but Tommy Milner is out, replaced by factory driver Dirk Werner, who ran with the team at Sebring and Petit Le Mans in 2010.
The ALMS GT2 championship-winning BMW Rahal Letterman Racing team will return in 2011.
BMW hedges on the structure of the European M3 program
Werner continues as part of the driver lineup for the European M3 GT2 program run by Team Schnitzer, along with Andy Priaulx, Augusto Farfus, Dirk Müller, Jörg Müller, Uwe Alzen, Dirk Adorf, and Pedro Lamy. At this point BMW is hedging on where it will run, awaiting decisions by sanctioning bodies on specs for the GT2. The BMW Motorsport press release says, “As last year, it is planned to contest the big 24-hour races in Europe. A final confirmation for racing at the Nürburgring, in Le Mans, and in Spa-Francorchamps will be made depending on regulation decisions and the categorization of the BMW M3 GT2. Participation in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) has yet to be confirmed for the same reason.” BMW says that it plans to run the M3 GT2 in “numerous VLN rounds” in advance of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.
BMW will not return to the World Touring Car Championship as a.factory team. Instead, it will offer a new customer car to independent teams to replace the 320si.The 320 TC (TC stands for Touring Car) will be powered by the 1.6-liter turbo engine that BMW has built to the FIA’s new spec. The engine is also used in the Mini WRC rally car being developed by ProDrive.
In 2010, Sergio Hernandez won the WTCC Independents’ Trophy in a customer 320si, while Andy Priaulx, driving for the Motorsport-backed BMW Team RBM, placed fourth in drivers’ points. BMW placed third in manufacturers’ points behind Chevrolet and SEAT.
BMW also announced that it will continue to offer its customer Z4 GT3 and M3 GT4 cars in 2011, will develop the DTM car that it will campaign in 2012, and will continue its development program for young drivers via the Formula BMW Talent Cup program.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.org