It has been some time since we talked BMW Motorsports. Without further ado, from DTM to Formula E and Private Racing, here is the first BMW Motorsports news roundup of the year.
Official Release: Whether in the DTM, the United SportsCar Championship, or countless other championships: week after week BMW teams and drivers around the world do battle for points, victories and titles. Away from the track too, members of the large BMW Motorsport family around the world are also creating headlines. The “BMW Motorsport News” allows us to regularly summarise all the action for you in a compact and informative manner. This way, you are always up to speed.
Andy Priaulx competes in the BTCC, ELMS and selected USCC races in 2015.
Andy Priaulx (GB) has an action-packed 2015 ahead of him. The BMW works driver will race for the championship-winning West Surrey Racing team in the British Touring Car Championship. Because of this, he is set to race in three series this year. Priaulx’s last appearance in the BTCC came back in 2002, and he can hardly wait to return to some of his favourite circuits in Great Britain with the support of his long-term partner IHG. The three-time World Touring Car Champion can look forward to a busy 2015: as well as the BTCC, he will also race in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) as a BMW works driver with BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS, as well as appearing for Turner Motorsport in four endurance races in the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) in North America.
Three questions for … Andy Priaulx.
You have not driven in the British Touring Car Championship since 2002, so how do you feel about your return?
Andy Priaulx: “I feel I am coming home. The BTCC is at an all time high and to get a chance to come back in a BMW supported by IHG is just a dream come true. Also I couldn’t be in a better team than Dick Bennetts’ West Surrey Racing – the reigning champions with a BMW. Dick and myself have spoken a lot over the years and he is somebody I have always admired because he is a great engineer and team boss. I am on a no brainer joining his team for my return to this ultra competitive series. I know there will be pressure, as it is a winning car and team, but I am happy with that and am planning to be fighting near the front.”
This announcement came just a few days after the news you will also be doing some races in America with Turner Motorsport.
Priaulx: “That has been a very nice stocking filler. I really enjoyed America last year and it seemed strange not to go back having learnt all the tracks and having been really strong there. To go back to do the endurance classics starting with the Daytona 24 hours just made sense because of my experience, and it is in a BMW which is even better. This is another team that I know a lot about and I admire what Will Turner has done. To go racing in series in America and the UK with two championship winning teams is pretty special.” You are also racing in Europe in the ELMS. What is your opinion about this programme? Priaulx: “This is a programme I am very excited about as I go into my 13th season as a BMW works driver. It is important for BMW Motorsport to do well in the series so we are all very focused on building a competitive package. Having a chance to come back to Europe and be involved in the only works programme there outside the DTM is a privilege. For me that is a really important programme.”
USCC: The countdown is on to the start of the season in Daytona.
Two weeks before the 24 Hours of Daytona (US), BMW Team RLL continued its preparations for the start of the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) season at the “Roar before the Rolex 24”. Team principal Bobby Rahal’s (US) outfit took to the track at the iconic circuit in Florida with two BMW Z4 GTLMs. Regular drivers John Edwards (US) and Lucas Luhr (DE) shared the number 24 car with Jens Klingmann (DE) and Graham Rahal (US). In action at the wheel of the number 25 car were regulars Bill Auberlen (US) and Dirk Werner (DE), who were joined by BMW DTM drivers Augusto Farfus (BR) and Bruno Spengler (CA). Turner Motorsport will race in the GTD class in 2015, and has its sights set firmly on defending its USCC titles in both the team and driver competitions. Markus Palttala (FI), winner of the 2014 BMW Sports Trophy Drivers’ Competition, and Michael Marsal (US) will contest the entire USCC season in the cockpit of the number 97 BMW Z4 GTD. Among those supporting the two regular drivers in Daytona will be BMW works driver Andy Priaulx.
FIA Formula E Championship: DTM driver Félix da Costa wins in Buenos Aires.
BMW DTM driver António Félix da Costa (PT) won the fourth round of the FIA Formula E Championship in Buenos Aires (AR) and celebrated his first win in the racing series for fully-electric single-seater cars. Starting from eighth on the grid in front of a sell-out crowd of 20,000 at the street circuit in the Argentinean capital, Félix da Costa cut through the field magnificently to win after 35 laps. The Portuguese driver came home 5.354 seconds clear of Nicolas Prost (FR). “I noticed in qualifying that we had the pace to be in contention,” said Félix da Costa. “I am very happy that we were fast enough to get the win.” The BMW i8 Safety Car was once again in action in a turbulent race, which featured a number of crashes. The next round of the FIA Formula E Championship takes place on the streets of Miami (US) on 14th March.
24h Dubai: Privateer BMW teams claim two class victories.
The first endurance classic of the season, the 24 Hours of Dubai (AE), took place on Friday and Saturday. Eighty nine cars went head to head in nine classes, with privateer BMW teams claiming two class victories. The Racingdivas by Las Moras team won in the BMW M235i Racing Cup class, which was making its first appearance in Dubai. The Dutch trio of Liesette Braams, Sandra van der Sloot and Gaby Uljee, supported by VLN driver Max Partl (DE), dominated their class and finished a strong 23rd overall after the 530 laps. Second and third in the class went to the Sorg Rennsport and Race-House Motorsport teams. The Mission Possible by Sorg Rennsport project, which gave four drivers with walking disabilities the opportunity to compete in the 24-hour race at the wheel of a specially modified BMW M235i Racing, finished fifth in the class. The second class victory went to the Hofor-Küpper Racing team. Bernd Küpper (DE), Martin Kroll (CH), Chantal Kroll (CH), Sarah Toniutti (CH) and Hal Prewitt (US) came through to secure the win in their BMW M3 Coupé. The Triple Eight team finished seventh in the Pro-Am class in a BMW Z4 GT3.
DTM: Timo Glock bitten by the darts bug.
While preparations for the 2015 DTM season are picking up speed, darts fans have already enjoyed their first highlight of the season: the world championship took place at London’s (GB) “Alexandra Palace” at the start of January – and Timo Glock (DE), a big fan of the sport, was there to watch the action unfold live. The BMW works driver witnessed the semi-finals and last Sunday’s final at close hand. Gary Anderson (GB) came through a real thriller to defeat record world champion Phil “The Power” Taylor (GB) 7:6 and claim his first world championship title. “I am a huge darts fan and have watched countless matches on television,” said Glock after his visit to “Ally Pally”. “I have now made it there in person for the first time – and it was a fantastic experience. The guys deserve the utmost respect for what they achieve mentally, in that atmosphere and with all the pressure that comes with playing at a world championship. The accuracy of the pros on the oche is just incredible.”
DTM: Martin presents BMW M5 to Belgian football international Dries Mertens. BMW DTM driver Maxime Martin (BE) presented Belgian football international Dries Mertens with the keys to a BMW M5. Martin welcomed his compatriot as a “BMW Friend” at an event staged by BMW Belux. Martin promised to introduce the star, who plays his football for SSC Naples, to the full capabilities of his BMW M5 with a private driver training course. Mertens is regarded as one of the most talented Belgian footballers. He invited Martin to attend the Belgian team’s next international in Brussels (BE) in March 2015. In return, Mertens will visit a DTM race in the summer of 2015.
BMW Motorsport: Jonas Krauss is new head of sales for customer racing.
BMW Motorsport welcomes Jonas Krauss back to the BMW family. The 41-year-old will return to the BMW brand as head of sales for customer racing. Krauss was project manager for Formula BMW from 2003 to 2009 before taking over as head of sponsorship and cooperations at M GmbH up to 2011. Between 2011 and 2014 he was responsible for the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, which was held as part of the support programme for Formula One. Among Krauss’s responsibilities in his new role as head of sales for customer racing at BMW Motorsport will be the strategic further development of customer racing.