BMW celebrated all their achievements throughout 2018 yesterday evening in Munich, and announced their 2019 programmes as well.
The team confirmed six cars from the DTM 2019, where a brand new 4 cylinder turbo engine with a bit over 600 bhp will be used. That gives a significantly different sound, than what we are used to from the DTM cars, but with a minimum of noise cancelling, there will still be plenty of sound.
The team has opted to continue with Philipp Eng, Timo Glock, Marco Wittmann, Joel Eriksson and Bruno Spengler, while the sixth DTM seat will be decided in the coming week, where the DTM Young Driver Test in Jerez will be run. Team RMG and RBM will once again run the two times three cars.
Mikkel Jensen, who was announced as a new BMW factory driver yesterday, will also run that test alongside Nick Catsburg, Nick Yelloly and Sheldon van der Linde. The interesting part in that, is that Jensen and Catsburg are the only drivers connected to BMW previously, while Yelloly has been driving Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and van der Linde has raced Audis in ADAC GT Masters and others. Jensen has been doing a lot of DTM taxi rides throughout 2018, and with yesterday’s announcement of being new factory driver, he must be the hot favourite for that seat. But the test next week will decide that.
The vacant DTM seat came after Augusto Farfus decided to step out of the series, to focus more on GT and Touring Cars. The Touring Car part will be with Hyundai – together with Catsburg.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will see the continuation of Rahal Letterman Lanigan running the programme, but with a few changes here and there. Alexander Sims will be driving ABB FIA Formula E Championship, leaving an open seat. That one is taken up by Tom Blomqvist – another former Formula E driver. Blomqvist will share the car with Connor De Phillippi throughout the season, while they will be joined by Colton Hera and Philipp Eng for the Daytona 24 hours. It’s still not announced which of those two will join at the other Endurance rounds at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans.
The other IMSA car will have John Edwards and Jesse Krohn as full season drivers. They will be joined by Australian Chaz Mostert, who has been racing for Turner Motorsport in the past alongside Jesse Krohn, in their GTD car. Fourth driver on the car will be Alex Zanardi, who will make his debut at the 24 hour race at Daytona. A special steering wheel with hand controls has been developed for him, so he can control everything from there, instead of braking with his prosthetic leg, which he did back in the WTCC era. He found out that it was too hard for his body, when he did the Spa 24 Hours in 2015. The hand controls made its debut at the DTM race in Misano, which was used as a test ahead of Daytona, and everything went perfect for the Italian.
Team MTEK will continue to run the FIA WEC programme with the two BMW M8GTE cars. Nick Catsburg and Martin Tomczyk will once again share #81, while Augusto Farfus and Antonio Felix da Costa will have #82. There are no news about third drivers on those cars for the Le Mans. Blomqvist and Eng raced earlier in the 2018/19 season. Mikkel Jensen has been reserve driver on the programme, so he might be a possibility, too, if the DTM seat doesn’t go his way.
BMW will once again enter the Nürburgring 24 Hours, where ROWE Racing, Falken Motorsports and Walkenhorst Motorsport will run the cars. ROWE Racing will have Tom Blomqvist, Nick Catsburg, Connor de Phillippi, John Edwards, Philipp Eng, Jesse Krohn, Marco Wittmann and Nick Yelloly running. Augusto Farfus, Martin Tomczyk and Timo Scheider will also be doing that race, but for different teams.
The ABB FIA Formula E Championship will have Antonio Felix da Costa and Alexander Sims running throughout the season, while Beitske Visser and Bruno Spengler will be test- and reserve drivers.
There is a distinguished lack of ADAC GT Masters in yesterday’s announcement. The series wasn’t mentioned at all, opposite to last years announcement. So we haven’t got any confirmation on a potential BMW Team Schnitzer programme. Their boss for many years, Charly Lamm retired yesterday, but a new guy in charge should already be in place.
That was huge lump of new from BMW Motorsport in once go. This isn’t the final story though, since there are some date clashes here and there, namely the FIA WEC race at Spa Francorchamps and the DTM opening round at Hockenheim. Making it even worse for the team, there is an IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race going on the same weekend. So depending on who will get which seats in the programme, there might be some reserve drivers pulled into the programme that weekend. A driver that is 99,9% certain of being racing a car that weekend, will for sure be Mikkel Jensen. The question is – will it be somewhere in the Ardennes mountains or in the Heidelberg area?