Martin Tomczyk will retire from the DTM at the end of this season as the former champion prepares to embark on a GT racing venture with BMW.

Tomczyk shot onto the DTM scene with Audi back in 2001 before taking his one and only title in the series for the Ingolstadt manufacturer a decade later in 2011.

Following on from his popular championship win, the current Team Schnitzer driver joined BMW as the defending champion in 2012, where he helped galvanise the legendary returning outfit with Team RMG.

"It was certainly not an easy decision for me, as I have become part of the DTM over the last 16 years," said Tomczyk.

"Now it is time for me to say farewell and to take on new sporting challenges with BMW."

With most of his major milestones achieved whilst driving for Audi, Tomczyk thanked Hans-Jurgen Abt and Dr Wolfgang Ulrich for their guidance during his tenure with the 'four ring' fold.

"I owe a debt of gratitude to Hans-J?rgen Abt and his entire team, as I really learned how to be a professional racing driver there for ten years," Tomczyk continued.

"Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich and Audi also gave me the support I needed to establish myself in motorsport. Ernst Moser and Team Phoenix Racing were the key to my DTM title success in 2011. That was clearly the highlight of my career to date."

Of his present total of 171 race starts, Tomczyk has steered his way to way seven victories - the first of which was achieved at Barcelona 2006 - while also accumulating eight pole positions and 28 rostrum finishes.

Despite struggling to rekindle the kind of form which took him to the title in 2011, Tomczyk has still remained an integral part of BMW's recent success having stood on the podium on four occasions for the Munich constructor.

"In 2012, I moved on to pastures new in the DTM with BMW. The work involved in its return to competition was a particularly tempting challenge for me. Being able to celebrate a DTM title win together in the first year was also a great moment.

"I think that I have continued to develop as a racing driver in recent years, and after 16 years in this series I have been thinking: is the DTM still right for me? Can I continue to record results there that match my expectations?

"I also enjoy GT racing and have had regular opportunities to compete there over the years. It has become a lot more professional and will continue to do so. I believe that I can continue to develop as a driver, and increase my involvement."

BMW Motorsport director, Jens Marquardt said Tomczyk's experience really helped 'push forward' their early development on the iconic brands return to the DTM.

"It is very difficult to conceive of a DTM season without Martin Tomczyk," said Marquardt.

"Martin has defined this series like no other driver in its history. When he joined BMW for our DTM comeback in 2012, his unbelievable experience really helped to push the project forward.

"I am very happy that he will be staying with us in the long term, to become an important part of our future motorsport programme."