The will-they, won't-they saga regarding a potential DTM comeback for BMW has finally been resolved, with the Bavarian manufacturer officially announcing today that it is to rejoin the grid in the pan-European touring car series in 2012.
BMW first made public its wish to return to the fray it had departed back in 1994 earlier this year – but with a number of provisos on the subject of future technical regulations and the DTM's long-term internationalisation. In recent months, the company has been working closely to this end with commercial rights-holder and promoter ITR e.V. and the championship's two other competitors Audi and Mercedes-Benz, and the management board is now satisfied that the conditions it requires in order to compete have been met.
“The return of BMW to the DTM is a fundamental part of the restructuring of our motorsport activities,” stated Dr. Klaus Draeger, member of the BMW AG management board with responsibility for development. “With its increased commitment to production car racing, BMW is returning to its roots. The racetrack is the perfect place to demonstrate the impressive sporting characteristics of our vehicles against our core competitors in a high-powered environment – and the DTM is the ideal stage on which to do this.”
“The entire team at BMW Motorsport is approaching this exciting project with absolute commitment,” echoed BMW Motorsport Director Dr. Mario Theissen. “We began making technical preparations following our declaration of intent in April, and established parameters for a high-performance vehicle concept for deployment in the DTM. The positive decision of the BMW Board of Management means we can now shift up a gear and give the green light for development.”
It is anticipated that BMW will field its iconic M3 model upon its return, with Eric van de Poele and touring car legend Roberto Ravaglia having both enjoyed title success in the DTM with the same car's predecessor in 1987 and 1989 respectively – whilst earlier this summer, the current BMW M3 GT2 caused a sensation in the world of international endurance racing by claiming outright victory in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Volker Strycek also triumphed in the inaugural DTM outing back in 1984 at the wheel of a 635 CSi.
“We welcome the decision by BMW to enter the DTM from 2012,” underlined Hans Werner Aufrecht, First Chairman of the ITR e.V. board. “This is a further milestone for the future of our popular racing series, and proves that our efforts over the past few years have paid off.
“We laid the foundation for this in conjunction with the DMSB and the existing DTM manufacturers, namely Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Thus, I would like to heartily thank all parties. I am personally looking forward to again seeing the three premium brands of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz competing against each other on the racetrack. Our fans have waited a long time for this.”
Those sentiments are shared by Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug and Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, both of whom are palpably relishing the extra challenge that BMW will present after waging a two-way duel ever since Opel left the scene at the end of 2005.
“From our point-of-view, [BMW's is] a good decision that confirms how important it was and how right we were at Mercedes-Benz to continuously commit to the DTM for more than 20 years, and thus longer than any other manufacturer, in such a determined way,” reflected Haug. “We are looking forward to the new and respected competitor from Munich, and we congratulate them on their arrival in the DTM in 2012.”