Whether in the DTM, the FIA World Endurance Championship, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship or countless other championships: Week after week BMW teams and drivers around the world do battle for points, victories and titles. Away from the track too, members of the large BMW Motorsport family around the world are also creating headlines. The “BMW Motorsport News” allows us to regularly summarise all the action for you in a compact and informative manner. This way, you are always up to speed.
Formula E: BMW i Andretti Motorsport testing with the BMW iFE.18 after victory at the season-opener.
BMW i Andretti Motorsport, the BMW iFE.18 and BMW works driver António Félix da Costa (POR) celebrated a perfect start to the season in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The entire team was naturally delighted that the first race provided a rich reward for the months and years of intensive development work. However, one day after the triumph, the focus returned to preparing for the next races. BMW Motorsport Junior Beitske Visser (NED) made her debut in the BMW iFE.18 during testing in Ad Diriyah (KSA). She shared test duties with Alexander Sims (GBR). “The BMW iFE.18 is a cool car, it feels very stable,” said Visser. “Having spent the last two years driving in GT and touring car racing, returning to formula cars did require a bit of adjustment but I had fun and gained some valuable experience.”
Three questions for… António Félix da Costa.
António, now you have slept on your victory in Ad Diriyah, how does it feel?
António Félix da Costa: “To be honest, it still feels unreal. When I joined the Andretti team in Season 3, I always intended to reach this point, however the last two years have seen plenty of difficult races and tricky moments. I have been accompanied during these tough times by many team members who were there to experience our win this time. That is just a great story and I am unbelievably delighted about how it went.”
How has the increased BMW influence affected the progress of the team?
Félix da Costa: “The opportunities and the know-how provided by BMW have taken the project in a completely new direction. I visited Munich regularly during the preparation phase for the new season and I have seen how the series developers go about their work. The BMW i drivetrain that they have developed for us is simply fantastic. Nonetheless, before the first race starts it is impossible to know where you stand compared to the competition. We saw that we didn’t have the fastest car in the field in Ad Diriyah. That motivates everyone to work that bit harder. But we still managed to win the race, because we made no errors as a team. That is why I have a very good feeling about the rest of the season.”
How do you rate the new “ATTACK MODE” and the “FANBOOST”?
Félix da Costa: “From a strategic point of view, the ‘ATTACK MODE’ is a big challenge, as it is very difficult to decide when and how to use it correctly in the race. It makes the race less predictable, which is more exciting for the fans. I am delighted that I received the ‘FANBOOST’ for the first time in my Formula E career. That shows that I get plenty of support, not just from Portuguese fans but also from BMW fans all over the world and Andretti fans in North America. That is really cool. I think both of these boost ideas are great for the fans.”
BMW Customer Racing: BMW M4 GT4 enters its second sales phase.
The BMW M4 GT4 is a success story. In 2018, its first season in action on the racetracks of the world, it claimed more than 30 class wins and just short of 100 podium finishes on four continents in the hands of BMW customer teams. It was consequently named “Race Car of the Year”. In addition, sales of the car have been excellent. The first batch of 80 cars has already been snapped up, prompting BMW Motorsport to produce more cars, which will go on sale in 2019. This means, as of the coming season, even more teams all over the world will have the opportunity to compete in the booming GT4 category with the technically sophisticated BMW M4 GT4, which has proven its self under the toughest possible conditions in race action.
British GT Championship: BMW M6 GT3 set to make its debut in 2019.
Century Motorsport is expanding its involvement in the British GT Championship after winning the Driver and Team titles in the GT4 category in 2018. Next season, the team will field a BMW M6 GT3 in the highest class of the British racing series, as well as a BMW M4 GT4. This year’s GT4 champion Jack Mitchell (GBR) will share driving duties in the BMW M6 GT3 with Adrian Willmott (GBR) in the Pro-Am category. “I am very excited to start with the BMW M6 GT3 in British GT,” said Mitchell. “Adrian and I will work very hard during the tests to be as well prepared as possible for the season and to get the best possible out of every lap.” It will be the first time that the BMW M6 GT3 has been represented in the British GT Championship. In 2016, the AMD Tuning and Rollcentre Racing teams each ran a BMW Z4 GT3. Century Motorsport will also race in the GT4 class again in 2019, when it will defend its title. The driver line-up for the BMW M4 GT4 will be announced at a later date.
IMSA Series: Turner Motorsport to field the BMW M6 GT3 and BMW M4 GT4 in Daytona in 2019.
Like Century Motorsport in the British GT Championship, Turner Motorsport is also putting its faith in two BMW Customer Racing cars in North America. As in previous years, Will Turner’s (USA) team will run a BMW M6 GT3 in the GTD class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The regular drivers for the full season are BMW of North America Ambassador, Bill Auberlen, and Robby Foley (both USA). The duo will receive support at January’s 24 Hours of Daytona (USA) from BMW works driver Jens Klingmann (GER) and Dillon Machavern (USA). The Michelin Pilot Challenge, the four-hour race in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, will also be held during the 24h Daytona weekend. Turner Motorsport will be represented in that race for the first time since 2014, with a BMW M4 GT4 in the GS class. Foley will be at the wheel again. At his side will be the father-daughter duo of Bruce and Sydney McKee (both USA), who will make their race debut for Turner Motorsport.
BTCC: Tom Oliphant to drive the BMW 125i M Sport in 2019.
Reigning champions West Surrey Racing have announced their first driver for the 2019 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Tom Oliphant (GBR) is switching to the Sunbury-on-Thames (GBR) based team and will take his place at the wheel of the BMW 125i M Sport next season. 28-year-old Oliphant enjoyed a successful first BTCC season in 2018 and is looking forward to the new challenge. “To drive for West Surrey Racing in the coming BTCC season is a dream for me,” he said. “I am incredibly proud that Dick Bennetts and his team are putting so much faith in me.” The team and its driver Colin Turkington (GBR) took overall victory in the BTCC in 2018.
BMW works drivers in action during media launch of the new BMW 3 Series at Portimão.
During the break from racing, many BMW works drivers have been in action as ambassadors for the BMW brand. During the media launch of the new BMW 3 Series at Portimão (POR) in recent weeks, they offered 400 international media representatives the exclusive opportunity to experience, before the actual market launch, how it feels to drive an ultra-modern BMW road vehicle like the BMW M340i xDrive Sedan (combined fuel consumption: 7.5 l/100 km; combined CO² emissions: 172 g/km*) at its sporting limit. At the racetrack, BMW works drivers showed what the most dynamic variant of the new, 275-kW/374-hp sports sedan is capable of. The journalists experienced the positive effects that the comprehensively modified suspension technology, new damper technology, reduced weight and lower centre of gravity have on the handling of the BMW M340i xDrive, which was developed by BMW M GmbH. The BMW 3 Series is now in its seventh generation. The models in this series are the top-selling premium vehicles in the world, with more than 15.5 million sold since 1975. Jens Klingmann (GER), Alexander Sims (GBR), Marco Wittmann (GER), Tom Blomqvist (GBR), Bruno Spengler (CAN), António Félix da Costa (POR), Philipp Eng (AUT), Timo Glock (GER) and Augusto Farfus (BRA) were all present in Portugal.