In this three-part series, published in the week before the season starts at the Hockenheimring, we have a look into the drivers, teams, and manufacturers of this season. Today, in part two, we have a look at BMW and their drivers. Let’s get to know them.
Unlike Audi, BMW joined DTM at the very beginning, when the series began in 1984. In that time, they won the championship two times – with Eric van de Poele in 1987 and Robert Ravaglia in 1989. Though just three years later, the brand quit the series. It wasn’t until 2012, 20 years after their last season, that they came back.
Their comeback couldn’t have been better – Bruno Spengler won the championship for BMW Team Schnitzer. Not only did they win the drivers’ championship, but the team and manufacturer championship as well.
Let’s have a look at the driver line up for this season. Just like Audi, they didn’t change much. There’ll be only one driver change after Augusto Farfus decided to leave the championship after 7 years, choosing instead to focus on GT racing instead. Farfus is currently driving in the WTCR.
Taking over from Farfus, is the 19-year-old Sheldon van der Linde. The South-African driver might be young but by no means inexperienced. In 2016 he made his mark in European motorsport by competing in the Audi Sport TT cup, earning Audi’s respect in the process. Two years later he got contracted as a factory driver for them, doing two 24-hour races – Nürburgring and Spa. Also, he competed in the ADAC GT Masters sharing the car with his older brother Kelvin. They finished 2nd in the championship, missing out on the championship by only 1 point. At the end of last year, he got the invitation from BMW to join them in the Young Driver Test. Soon after, he got added to their line-up.
His teammates in Team RBM will be Philipp Eng and Joel Eriksson. Two drivers who are still quite new to the series. This will be the 2nd season for both. Eng, is known by his successes in the Porsche Carrera Cup, Porsche Supercup and later GT racing, scoring two podiums last year.
Joel Eriksson, who is only one year older than van der Linde, had an impressive victory last year in Misano. Unfortunately, it was his only podium. Before he came to DTM, he raced in single-seaters – he won the famous Masters of Formula 3 in Zandvoort back in 2016. And a year later he finished 2nd in the European Formula 3 Championship, which was won by current McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris.
The other BMW team is RMG. Their three drivers for 2019 are Bruno Spengler, Marco Wittmann and Timo Glock. Two of them are former champions – as previously mentioned, Spengler won the championship for the Bavarian team back in 2012, while Marco Wittmann ended on top in 2014 and 2016.
Spengler is one of the two most experienced drivers on the grid this year. He made his debut in 2005 for Mercedes’ team Persson Motorsport. A year later, he switched to team HWA and stayed with them until the end of 2011 – his last year for the manufacturer from Stuttgart. In total, he did 177 races, scored 15 wins, 49 podiums and 18 pole positions. This altogether means that he scored 833 points in his DTM career so far.
Marco Wittmann debuted for the team in 2013. His first year for team MTEK and a year later he switched to team RMG. In 2014 he won his first title, thanks to consistent finishes throughout the season. This led to an early championship decider at the Lausitzring, two rounds before the final race weekend. Two years later, he did it again. His biggest rival that year was Audi’s Edoardo Mortara. After finishing fourth in the final race of the season, he beat Mortara with only 4 points difference.
Finally, Timo Glock. He made his DTM debut in 2013 as well, for the same team as Wittmann. Unfortunately, he has been a little less lucky. In those 6 years, he scored 5 victories and 14 podiums.
BMW struggled a bit in the first two days of testing, but during the final two days they made up for that by putting many laps in. They feel ready for the start of the season. It is a strong line-up, so you shouldn’t write them off yet. Testing is only testing after all.