BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt said in an interview released on June 5 that BMW is focusing on the start of 2020 DTM season while acknowledging that Audi’s departure at the end of the season makes the future beyond 2020 unpredictable. On the day before the interview was released, the motorsport community learned that Porsche will exit the IMSA GTLM class after this season, potentially affecting BMW’s plans in another major series.
Marquardt said, “The pandemic is having a serious impact on everything and everyone—this obviously also includes the automotive industry and motorsport, which relies largely upon its events and the fans at the racetrack. I see the prospects for motorsport in three periods: in the short term, after everything the scientists and politicians had been telling us for weeks, it was absolutely essential to stop all racing operations. Medium term, we are hopeful—particularly after the announcement of the amended DTM calendar – that we will still be able to go racing this year, implementing concepts adapted to the pandemic, and to see our BMW M4 DTM in action. I am not prepared to make any long-term predictions, as the overall situation is too unpredictable.”
DTM has announced a nine-event, eighteen-race 2020 calendar with the season opening at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium during August 1–2 and a finale on the Hockenheimring during November 6–8. A preseason four-day test session is scheduled for the Nürburgring during June 8–11. The 2020 race schedule appears here.
Marquardt went on to say, “Our focus is still fully on the 2020 season. Everyone in our team is highly motivated and can hardly wait for next week’s tests at the Nürburgring. The launch of the amended DTM calendar has made us all even hungrier for the start of the season. Concentrating on Germany and its immediate neighbors, Belgium and the Netherlands, is in keeping with the order of the day—not to have any unnecessarily long journeys or transport routes. I also welcome the scheduling of back-to-back race weekends at the same circuit. That is also an expression of maximum efficiency and planning security. I can only stress once again, we remain passionate about the DTM—and we want to offer all the fans great racing in 2020. That is what we are now preparing for.”
The Porsche announcement regarding its IMSA program came on June 4. Autosport quotes Porsche Motorsport director Fritz Enzinger as saying, “In view of the current corporate situation in connection with the corona pandemic, it is only logical that Porsche Motorsport also makes a contribution to coping with the economic consequences. At this point I would like to expressly thank Jim France and the colleagues at IMSA for their understanding. Porsche belongs to endurance racing: we will work hard to ensure that this is just a temporary farewell.”
Porsche’s departure, which follows Ford’s exit at the end of last season, could leave Corvette Racing and BMW as the only two marques running the 2021 GTLM season. Ferrari is participating this season, but only in selected races. SRO principal Stefan Ratel has noted that the future of GT racing likely belongs to customer cars, like the BMW M6 GT3, with less and less direct participation by factory teams. For now, Porsche’s move appears to be another step in that direction.—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW Motorsport.]