Like every race series in the world, the DTM has been forced to react to the Covid-19 pandemic with a modified and more compact race calendar. Starting with the season-opener at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, on August 1 & 2, the prospect of nine race weekends in a little over three months poses challenges to the teams and, in particular, their logistics operations.
Since the end of the official DTM tests, the DTM teams have been in the final phase of their preparations for the opening races. Thanks to BMW Motorsport, we’re provided an insight into their preparations from BMW Team RMG boss Stefan Reinhold (above, center), who explains and how his team is preparing.
At its headquarters in Andernach, Germany, BMW Team RMG is currently assembling the three BMW M4 DTMs with which Marco Wittmann (Germany), Timo Glock (Germany) and Lucas Auer (Austria) will compete. “With the new calendar, the races sometimes come in such quick succession that you must already be looking to keep the work between races to the bare minimum,” says Reinhold.
Optimal preparation is the name of the game, including daily pit stop training in the team’s own workshop halls, as well as assembling the cars. However, even with so much work taking place, Reinhold is conscious of the strain his employees could be under. As such, he has ensured that they used the relatively long time between the test and the opening races to take vacations and start the season as well-rested as possible – a season that promises to be particularly challenging, thanks mainly to its compact nature. Following the postponements of recent months, a season that would usually have run from April to October will now last just 15 weeks. The peak of this activity will be the six races on three consecutive weekends in September.
To ensure that this workload can be managed, those responsible for the DTM have worked with the manufacturers to select venues that are, as a rule, relatively close to each other. “Short distances to the racetrack are essential. If we also had to cope with long journeys, then this race calendar would be impossible from a logistics point of view,” says Reinhold. “To Monza, the trucks would be on the road for about two days. To Spa, Zolder or the Nürburgring it is no more than half a day’s journey. That makes a big difference to us, as travel time for material and personnel is always lost time that could be spent working on the car.”
As well as the shortest possible distances between racetracks, the fact that the Lausitzring (Germany), the Nürburgring (Germany) and Zolder (Belgium) will each host two back-to-back race weekends will also help relieve the strain on the teams. “Races at the same circuit will obviously help us greatly, as we can stay on site and continue to work on the cars. That way, we are able to save the time taken to set up and take down our equipment, and the transfer,” Reinhold says.
The effort involved in setting up and dismantling equipment, in particular, should not be underestimated. BMW Team RMG takes four trucks holding a total of 30 tons of equipment to each race. That includes the three BMW M4 DTMs, as well as a host of spare parts, tools, wheels, superstructures for the pit wall, and workplaces for the engineers. It takes roughly two days to load all the trucks for a race weekend, travel to the circuit and unload the trucks there. Setting up the garages then takes another six to eight hours.
In the weeks between the double-headers, the teams can stay at the circuit to perform the obligatory revisions that take place after each race weekend. This includes dismantling the BMW M4 DTM to check all the parts for wear and possible damage. The time available for this may be shorter than in a normal season, when the teams would have at least one weekend between races, but it is sufficient for the routine checks – provided everything has gone to plan on the previous race weekend.
However, Reinhold always has one eye on possible additional challenges: “Avoiding any major damage will be particularly important this season, as time can become tight if you have to replace mechanical parts or many chassis parts.”
Whatever happens, it is going to be an intensive time for BMW Team RMG and all the other DTM teams. But Reinhold is in determined and confident mood: “The compact season is obviously going to be strenuous for the whole team. However, the current situation gives us no choice. Despite the extraordinary circumstances, we are well prepared. The main thing is that we are able to go racing at all, as that’s ultimately why we are involved in motorsport.”