Even when BMW finally unveiled the badly kept secret about the new V8 engine in its BMW M3 GT3 car at the Sebring 12 Hours, speculation about the Munich marques? future has not stopped.

The question as to whether it will or won?t enter the DTM in 2002 DTM continues to hang in the air like spray on a wet day at Hockenheim, with the slightest hint of activity in Bavaria being taken as another indication of a step towards returning.

The movement of two key players in the German racing scene has fuelled speculation that BMW might not be as far away from entering DTM as is widely regarded. Even though the two new staff members are working mainly in the background and are not widely known within the German media, news about their move never broke through big time.

Dirk Fischer, formerly project manager for DTM, and Jurgen Kalberer, head of parts construction, have both left Mercedes' works racing partner HWA, run by Hans Werner Aufrecht and formerly known as AMG, to join BMW. Their major task is to work on the Euro-STC project with the 320i and also the M3 GTR-V8 for the ALMS but, if BMW should decide to enter DTM, both would move to that project immediately.

The new 4-litre V8 destined for the BMW M3 GTR, which debuted in the hands of JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller at the Sebring classic, would fit into the current, very special, DTM rules. Engine capacity, an angle of 90 degrees between the two cylinder banks, cams and cranks, the power output of 480 bhp and the torque of 480 Nm would fit both into the rules and the pilosophy of the DTM regulations.

But even in spite of this, BMW would still have to develop and build a completely new car - only half a year after building the M3 GTR. The GTR?s gearshift, still being a H-pattern, wouldn?t fit into DTM, and neither would the cars suspension or the way the drivers are seated inside the monocoque.

DTM fans and participants are still hoping that BMW will decide pro-DTM, despite no decision having yet been reached in Munich. The odds seem to be standing strongly against a DTM return, with the new M3, currently being entered as a development project by the Schnitzer works team in this year?s ALMS, destined to be a car for customer.

Profits from selling the 320s and M3s are believed to be added straight to the Formula One project, which is on the verge of becoming a sensation and now needs every Pfennig avaiable to be stabilised amongst the big two - Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes.

Taking money away from that to boost a DTM programme seems to be the most unlikely politic planned in BMW?s Munich headquarters - even though the new V8 engine had clearly been developed, not only with ALMS and GT3 racing, but also with the possibility for DTM in mind.