BMW has announced that its Board of Management has decided to ‘strategically realign’ its motorsport activities. This realignment, which comes seven years after the brand’s withdrawal from Formula 1 and four years after returning to the DTM, is said to ‘address important topics in the ever-changing world of motorsport’.
BMW has stated that the pillars of the programme will be the DTM, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC), cooperation with Andretti Formula E in the FIA Formula E Championship, customer race programmes in GT3 and GT4 categories, and the Dakar Rally.
The plan is for BMW to enter the FIA World Endurance Championship in the 2018 season. The highlight of this championship is the 24-hour race in Le Mans (FR). BMW claimed overall victory there in 1999 with the open prototype BMW V12 LMR. The last time a BMW took its place on the grid at the endurance classic near the river Sarthe was in 2011: back then, the BMW M3 GT finished third in the LM GTE class.
In addition to this, BMW has stated that its has entered in to cooperation with Andretti Formula E, which is initially set to run for two seasons. It incorporates, for example, cooperation at engineer level and the mutual use of resources. Depending on the general development of the racing series, a works involvement is envisaged as of the series’ season 5, 2018/2019. As part of this commitment, BMW Motorsport will provide its works driver António Félix da Costa as a driver for Andretti Formula E. As well as the new partnership, BMW i will remain the “Official Vehicle Partner” of Formula E.
“It is fantastic that the BMW Group will be even more broadly positioned and represented in all relevant areas in the future,” added BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt. “We will continue to focus on Europe in the DTM, and are looking forward to continuing the extremely close competition with the other premium manufacturers over the coming years. Other relevant international platforms will also be incorporated in the new strategy: the commitment in Formula E sees us forge new paths and demonstrate our expertise in the field of electric mobility. Over the coming years, the cooperation with Andretti Formula E will primarily focus on familiarising ourselves with the procedures and processes, and on intensifying our knowledge. Our works driver António Félix da Costa will be in action behind the wheel. A works involvement is then conceivable as of the series’ fifth season. The premise for all these steps is the further positive development of the series, which includes increasing the capacity of the batteries, for example.
“Starting with the 2018 season, we want to further expand our activities in GT racing and compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship,” he continued. “This obviously also includes our return to Le Mans, which we are particularly looking forward to. The way the WEC has developed so well makes us confident that there is a big future for GT racing. This is also the motivation behind our further expansion in the customer racing sector. Our range is already spearheaded by a successful representative, in the form of the BMW M6 GT3. As of 2018, we will also be excellently represented by the BMW M4 GT4 in the GT4 class, which is currently experiencing something of a boom.”