BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt commented on last weekend’s win in Formula E, the DTM-Super GT dream race, the performance of the M6 GT3 in races in South Africa and China, and Philipp Eng’s podium in sim racing. The text of his interview appears here.
BMW Motorsport: Mr. Marquardt, the recent ‘BMW Motorsport Mega Weekend’ was more than successful. What did you think of the way things went?
Jens Marquardt: “That really was a mega weekend for us. Alexander Sims and BMW i Andretti Motorsport headed the list of successes. With two pole positions and the win on Saturday, Alexander really made his mark on the Formula E season-opener. This was followed by the Fuji ‘Dream Race’, the first time that the DTM and SUPER GT Championship had contested a race weekend together in Japan. Marco Wittmann was able to celebrate second place there on his 30th birthday. In the Intercontinental GT Challenge, Walkenhorst Motorsport claimed second place at Kyalami with the BMW M6 GT3 and our new customer team Astro Veloce Motorsports also reached the rostrum at the Asian Le Mans Series season-opener. We also had reason to rejoice in sim racing when our DTM driver Philipp Eng finished second in the ProAm race at the FIA GTC World Finals in Monaco. These results show just how successfully BMW Motorsport is competing in a range of disciplines.”
BMW Motorsport: Let’s start with the Formula E opener in Diriyah. How important was it to make a good start to the season?
Marquardt: “Very important. After the Valencia tests, we knew that the new BMW iFE.20 would give us the pace we required. However, there were a lot of unknowns ahead of the first race weekend—with new competitors and other changes. BMW i Andretti Motorsport then gave a really strong performance. After claiming pole position on Friday, Alexander Sims wasn’t disheartened by the fact that he was unable to stay in the battle for the podium right to the finish. Instead, the team drew the right conclusions and was able to perform at a higher level in the second race. That worked perfectly and Alexander was more than deserving of his first win. Maximilian Günther also made a very good impression, but two penalties meant that he was unable to record the good race results that his performances had merited. But I am certain that we have a good set-up for the upcoming Formula E events.”
BMW Motorsport: There were also plenty of positive reactions to the ‘Dream Race’ from the DTM and SUPER GT. What was your experience of the weekend at Fuji?
Marquardt: “The event really did live up to all the promises that had been made. The race on Sunday was a real treat with some great duels, plenty of action and the delighted birthday boy Marco Wittmann in second place. That was the first time that we were able to show how a joint race weekend with DTM and SUPER GT constructors could look in Japan and I think that the ‘Dream Race’ has definitely left us wanting more. We knew in advance that it would not be possible to get all the cars in the field to exactly the same level of performance but that did not affect the quality of the racing in any way. Things will look different once the regulations for the DTM and SUPER GT merge from 2020 onwards. The ‘Dream Race’ must be more than just a flash in the pan.”
BMW Motorsport: The BMW M6 GT3 has also showed once again that it can battle for wins – regardless of where it is competing…
Marquardt: “Yes, definitely. At the finale of the Intercontinental GT Challenge at Kyalami, we wanted to deliver another strong race performance with BMW Team Schnitzer and Walkenhorst Motorsport. That worked out. BMW Team Schnitzer was battling for the win for long periods. When the difficult weather conditions disrupted the standings towards the end, Walkenhorst Motorsport was on the spot to claim second place with the BMW M6 GT3. That was a great result for us on our return to South Africa. The current top model from BMW M Customer Racing was also successful in Shanghai. With Jens Klingmann as one of the drivers, the Astro Veloce Motorsports’ car finished third in the Asian Le Mans Series race. That shows that the BMW M6 GT3 is still a guarantee of success for our customers.”
BMW Motorsport: How important is Philipp Eng’s podium in the FIA GTC World Finals ProAm race in Monaco?
Marquardt: “To some extent, that result symbolizes how much our sim racing involvement has grown. The world’s best Gran Turismo drivers gathered at the FIA GTC World Finals in Monaco. Those driving virtual BMW race cars were supported and encouraged by Philipp Eng. Philipp is an enthusiastic sim racer and absolutely wanted to compete too. He got the chance to do so in the ProAm race – and promptly reached second place with his team-mates. At BMW Motorsport, we have gradually increased our presence in the discipline, hosting our own race events and setting our own priorities. We will continue to follow this course. Overall, simulations play a major role for us at BMW Motorsport, and for the BMW Group as a whole. That is why it definitely makes sense for us to use involvement in sim racing to work on those skills. Celebrating virtual wins and podiums is also a lot of fun.”—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW Motorsport.]