Back after 20 years: BMW Motorsport makes its DTM return at the Hockenheimring.
Munich, 23rd April 2012. The waiting is over: this weekend, BMW Motorsport will line up at the iconic Hockenheimring (DE) for the first race of its comeback season in the DTM. After an absence of almost 20 years, BMW is returning to the series to face a new challenge with three teams and six BMW M3 DTM cars. The race on Sunday marks the return of the BMW M3 to the DTM. The racing version of the sports car made its debut 25 years ago, and promptly won the DTM title at the first attempt. Now, as BMW M celebrates its 40th anniversary, the car is back again to perform in front of its many fans in the DTM.
The brand was involved in the series on a works level between 1984 and 1992, during which time it really made a mark, notching up 49 wins, 30 pole positions and three drivers' titles. The very first DTM race ever was won by a BMW driver: Harold Grohs (DE), at the wheel of the BMW 635 CSi. By the end of the season, Volker Strycek (DE) had secured the title in the same car. When the BMW M3 arrived on the scene in 1987, it immediately dominated proceedings and helped Eric van de Poele (BE) to victory in the drivers' standings in 1987 - a feat that was repeated two years later by Roberto Ravaglia (IT). The first era of BMW in the DTM drew to a close in Hockenheim on 11th October 1992, and the company now returns to the same circuit to open a new chapter in its successful motorsport history.
Reigning DTM champion Martin Tomczyk (DE) will contest the season alongside Joey Hand (US) with BMW Team RMG. Just as it was back then, BMW Team Schnitzer is once again involved under the leadership of Team Principal Charly Lamm. Bruno Spengler (CA) and Dirk Werner (DE) will line up for the team from Freilassing. Three-time World Touring Car Champion, Andy Priaulx (GB), and Augusto Farfus (BR) will represent BMW Team RBM.
The six drivers have a strong ally in the BMW M3 DTM. It has been developed from scratch by BMW Motorsport and will follow in the footsteps of the legendary first generation of M3 when it takes to the track in 2012. Following the roll-out in July 2011, the BMW M3 DTM completed thousands of test kilometres before it was homologated by the Deutscher Motor Sport Bund (DMSB) on 1st March this year.
BMW has scored more DTM victories at the Hockenheimring than any other circuit, with BMW drivers crossing the finish line first on ten occasions. Many of the stars from back then will also be there at the track to watch the return of BMW to the DTM live: Grohs, van de Poele and Ravaglia will be joined in Hockenheim by Steve Soper (GB).
Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):
"After the long preparation period, every one of us is now desperate to finally get racing and find out how we really compare to the opposition. We have many months of hard work behind us, and certainly an exciting and instructive season ahead of us. Hockenheim has a special place in the DTM history of BMW, and we enjoyed major success there between 1984 and 1992. We obviously want to follow on where we left off, but we will have to take it one step at a time. Initially, it is vital for us to learn and gain experience. Everyone in the team is totally motivated. It will undoubtedly be a very special weekend. Not just for the fans, but also for everyone at BMW Motorsport."
Martin Tomczyk (car number 1, BMW Team RMG):
"Even though I have been racing in the DTM for many years, I still get butterflies in my stomach ahead of the start of a season. The tension is definitely rising. I am ready for Hockenheim. The winter was intense and obviously involved a lot of development work. However, we can be happy with the result. It goes without saying that I am very excited about discovering the balance of power at the Hockenheimring, and hope we can get as close as possible to our more experienced rivals."
Joey Hand (car number 2, BMW Team RMG):
"Recently I have often been asked whether I will be nervous before the first round of the DTM. To be honest, I am totally relaxed. It is quite simply time to go racing. Many things will be new to me in Hockenheim: the standing start, lightning-quick pit stops, shorter races than I am used to. I am not worried, however, as we are very well prepared. I will go out there and do the best job possible. I am very proud that BMW has given me the opportunity to be the first American to drive in the DTM."
Bruno Spengler (car number 7, BMW Team Schnitzer):
"The start of this season will be a special one for me. It is my first year with BMW - and I am really hungry to finally get down to business in the first race. BMW's return after an absence of 20 years heralds a new era for the DTM. It is great for me to be a part of this and to experience this special moment. We worked very hard to gain as much experience as possible over the winter. Our rivals have an advantage over us in this regard, but we want to catch up as soon as possible. To me, this feels like I am starting my career from scratch again."
Dirk Werner (car number 8, BMW Team Schnitzer):
"I really enjoyed the tests with the BMW M3 DTM, and it was interesting to see the continuous further development of the car. I learned a lot in recent months and the team has also worked in a very focussed manner and made huge progress. Like everyone, I will increasingly feel the tension in the run up to the start on Sunday, but I'll try to deal with it positively. When it comes down to it, I want to enjoy my first DTM race and make a good start to the season."
Andy Priaulx (car number 15, BMW Team RBM):
"We have spent a long time preparing for this, so it is about time we finally got down to business. I am really proud of what BMW Motorsport and our team have achieved so far. Despite this, we remain realistic. BMW is new to the DTM and we have less experience than our rivals. That is why it is important for us to improve and develop from race to race. Every one of us is relishing the challenge."
Augusto Farfus (car number 16, BMW Team RBM):
"I am very excited and enthusiastic, but at the same time very curious ahead of my debut in the DTM this weekend. It has been a long hard road to get to this event with an amazing learning curve which we are still on. Everyone in the team has given 100 percent and more in recent months, so we are as well prepared as possible. We are entering the next phase now, and want to prove that we have given ourselves a good basis."
Interesting facts regarding the return of BMW Motorsport to the DTM:
- BMW is celebrating a hat-trick of anniversaries in 2012: BMW M was founded 40 years ago, and has tasted countless successes on the racetrack over the following decades. Twenty five years ago the BMW M3 started to write its unique success story in motorsport. Even today, the racing version remains the most successful touring car of all time. And finally, it is now 20 years since BMW last appeared in the DTM with a works team.
- Eleven BMW racing cars lined up at the first DTM race in Zolder in 1984.
- Volker Strycek did not win a single race in 1984 - but was still crowned champion.
- The first generation of BMW M3 achieved a top speed of 280 km/h on the straights through the Hockenheim woodland.
- BMW Team Schnitzer crossed the finish line in first place on 17 occasions between 1989 and 1992.
- Charly Lamm was on the pit wall for BMW Team Schnitzer when Roberto Ravaglia triumphed back in 1989.
- Harald Grohs won the first ever DTM race in Zolder at the wheel of the BMW 635 CSi.
- In a dramatic finale, 25-year-old Eric van de Poele finished tenth in the final race of the season to win the 1987 title in a BMW M3.
- Roberto Ravaglia gave the BMW M3 a triumphant farewell from the DTM with two victories in Hockenheim on 11th October 1992.
- Nowadays, Ravaglia runs his own ROAL Motorsport team and takes his place in the pit lane as Team Principal. Among other things, he now lines up with BMW racing cars in the World Touring Car Championship and the Italian GT Championship.
- BMW drivers finished first and second at 15 races in the DTM between 1984 and 1992.
- As well as the BMW 635 CSi and BMW M3, the BMW 323i also has three DTM wins to its name - with Winfried Vogt at the wheel on all three occasions.
- Andy Priaulx comes from the Channel Island of Guernsey, which is part of Great Britain.
- Priaulx won a hat-trick of titles in the World Touring Car Championship driving for BMW Team RBM in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
- Augusto Farfus is from Curitiba, the capital of the Brazilian state of Paraná.
- The Farfus family runs a large chain of restaurants in Curitiba and other Brazilian cities.
- Bruno Spengler won his first DTM race at the Norisring in 2006. It remains his favourite circuit to this day.
- Spengler is an avid golfer with an excellent handicap of 5.8.
- Martin Tomczyk finished tenth in the penultimate race of the season to secure the DTM title in 2011.
- Only Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekström have contested more DTM races than Tomczyk.
- Tomczyk is 1.88 metres tall. This makes him the tallest of the BMW drivers.
- In 2007 and 2009 Dirk Werner was unbeatable in the GT class of the GRAND-AM series, and won the title on both occasions.
- At the same time as his racing activities, Werner has also successfully completed his Mechanical Engineering studies.
- Joey Hand is the reigning GT champion in the American Le Mans Series and will race there again for BMW Team RLL in 2012.
- Hand loves to go fishing with his father and family.
- Marco Wittmann provides support for the six BMW DTM drivers over the course of the season as test and development driver.
- When developing the BMW M3 DTM, BMW motorsport engineers created over 2,500 CAD graphics, with over 900 for the engine alone.
- More than 1.2 kilometres of cable run through the BMW M3 DTM.
- Approx. 5,400 individual parts are used in the BMW M3 DTM. 1,200 of these are different.
- It takes about 60 hours to assemble the BMW P66 engine.
- Over the course of a DTM race, no less than 1.8 million ignitions take place in the BMW P66 engine.
- The carbon-fibre brake discs reach temperatures of up to 700°C. The strain put on the brakes is particularly high at circuits like the Norisring.