Munich - Anticipation is rising among the BMW DTM teams as this weekend (1st/2nd August), after months of waiting, they will finally get the 2020 DTM season underway. The venue for the season-opener is the iconic Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) in the Ardennes. BMW Team RMG and BMW Team RBM will field six BMW M4 DTMs between them. At the wheel will be Marco Wittmann (GER), Timo Glock (GER), Philipp Eng (AUT), Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), and the newcomers in the BMW DTM squad, Lucas Auer (AUT) and Jonathan Aberdein (RSA).
Spa-Francorchamps hosts the opening round of a compact calendar, with a total of nine events spread over just three months. The other venues are the Lausitzring (GER / double-header), Assen (NED), the Nürburgring (GER / double-header), Zolder (BEL / double-header) and Hockenheim (GER).
While the BMW DTM works drivers are familiar with the Ardennes rollercoaster that is Spa-Francorchamps from racing in other series, it is new territory for the BMW M4 DTM. The Belgian circuit last hosted a DTM race in 2005. An additional challenge is the schedule for the opening weekend. The two-day event kicks off on Saturday morning with free practice, before the first qualifying of the year gets underway at 10:55 local time. Race one starts at 13:33 on Saturday. Sunday features the second qualifying session at 10:45 and race two at 13:33. BMW M Motorsport was able to gain initial data for its set-up work with the BMW M4 DTM during a one-day test at the start of July.
Spa-Francorchamps is closely associated with the history of BMW in motorsport. With 24 victories to its name, BMW is the record winner of the famous 24-hour race at the Belgian circuit. The opening event is also more than just the first home race of the season for BMW Team RBM, which is based in Mechelen (BEL). Since the 1970s, the circuit has been the scene of great success for team principal Bart Mampaey and his family in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, as well as in the FIA European Touring Car Championship and the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Quotes ahead of the season-opener at Spa-Francorchamps.
Jens Marquardt (BMW Group Motorsport Director): “We have waited a long time, but we can now finally get the 2020 DTM started at Spa-Francorchamps. We would like to thank Gerhard Berger and the ITR for their tireless efforts in these difficult times. The events will be different to what we are used to, but the health and safety of all involved continues to take top priority for us all. The iconic circuit at Spa-Francorchamps is a worthy setting for the opening round of the 2020 season. It has played a major role in the history of BMW Motorsport, and we have enjoyed great success there in the past. It is fantastic that we will now get to see the BMW M4 DTM in world-famous corners like Eau Rouge and Blanchimont. We have prepared as well as possible for the new season, given the options that have been available to us in recent months. We have made further improvements to the BMW M4 DTM, in order to convert its potential into good race results. With four proven drivers and two strong newcomers, we are also excellently positioned in terms of our driver line-up.”
Bart Mampaey (Team Principal BMW Team RBM): “The season-opener at Spa-Francorchamps is very special, for several reasons. On one hand, because we can finally go racing again after the long break. On the other hand, because my family, I and the team have had a very close association with this iconic circuit for decades. It is fantastic to be able to add a DTM chapter to our Spa-Francorchamps story. We gained our first impressions at the test at the start of July, and it was spectacular to see the BMW M4 DTM hurtling through Eau Rouge at full speed. I think we will witness some fantastic racing with the powerful DTM cars and their mighty downforce on this fast and flowing ‘rollercoaster’ of a track. Starting with a two-day event will be a challenge, but we have done everything we can to ensure we are as well prepared as possible going into the first races and the compact season.”
Stefan Reinhold (Team Principal BMW Team RMG): “The whole team cannot wait for the start of the season. We are racers and are looking forward to battling for success on the racetrack again. 2020 is obviously going to be tough, especially with the races coming so thick and fast, but we have prepared for it and are looking forward to the challenge. It is great that the DTM is returning to Spa-Francorchamps after 15 years. It is a fantastic circuit with a unique character. We are excited about getting out on the track with the BMW M4 DTM. On the race weekend itself, the one free practice on the Saturday morning does not give us much time to do our final preparations for qualifying and the race. However, we are ready for that. For the past few months, we have been working towards that moment when the start lights go out for the first time this year. We can hardly wait to get started on Saturday.”
Marco Wittmann (#11 Schaeffler BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RMG): “I am obviously very excited to finally go racing again after the long wait caused by the coronavirus. I think it is definitely going to be a great start to the season. Spa-Francorchamps is a unique and very special racetrack. Furthermore, it is the first time that any of us will have driven there with the DTM. I am looking forward to it, although I am obviously a bit sad that we will not have any fans there to support us. I hope that many of them will be watching on television and will have their fingers crossed for us. I will try to put on a really good show for the viewers and am hoping for a successful start to the season at Spa.”
Timo Glock (#16 iQOO BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RMG): “After the break for coronavirus, I am delighted that we can finally get back to doing what we all enjoy – racing. It is obviously a shame that it must be behind closed doors, but I am still particularly looking forward to Spa. Driving a DTM car at Spa is going to be a highlight and I am very intrigued to see how the first race weekend plays out. The goal is relatively simple: to do as well as possible in both races. I hope we can challenge for the podium.”
Lucas Auer (#22 BMW Bank M4 DTM, BMW Team RMG / team championship BMW Team RMR): “There is great anticipation about getting the season underway – particularly at Spa-Francorchamps. It is going to be one of the highlights of the year. The Spa track is very special, with its changes in elevation and high-speed corners. A fast lap there is fantastic, particularly on fresh tyres, and I am really looking forward to it. As far as my goal for the first races is concerned, I think the most important thing for me at first will be to find my rhythm in the DTM again and to work well with the team. We saw and learned a lot during the official test at the Nürburgring, and we will now put that into practice at Spa.”
Philipp Eng (#25 ZF BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RBM): “I am really happy that we can go racing again. I am also very much looking forward to seeing my team again and to getting back behind the wheel of the BMW M4 DTM. And all this will happen at Spa – which is a fantastic highlight. I have very fond memories of Spa with my two victories in the 24-hour race with the BMW M6 GT3. And of course I hope that I can maintain my victory and success rate.”
Jonathan Aberdein (#27 CATL BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RBM / team championship BMW Team RMR): “I am very much looking forward to going back racing as it has been so many months now since our last DTM race so I think it’s quite overdue. I am also excited to see the development that we have achieved with the BMW M4 DTM. The guys have been working really, really hard over the winter and the pre-season tests and I think that it will be a very good season in that we will be very competitive. So we all have high expectations and high hopes going into the season and are excited to see where we are.”
Sheldon van der Linde (#31 Shell BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RBM): “I am really looking forward to my first DTM races in nine or ten months as the last time was Hockenheim last year. It has been a long time but I think it is like cycling; you’ll be back in your rhythm soon. Spa-Francorchamps is an amazing track. It is one of my personal top-three circuits I have driven on so I am really looking forward to that. I think that we will have a lot of overtaking opportunities at Spa with the long straights and the DRS activations so that will definitively bring some close racing. I think it is still important to qualify well because you really need to run with the guys upfront if you want to have a good result at the end. I think we have a really strong car, we have made a lot of progress over the winter and we had a very good test with Augusto Farfus at Spa earlier this month so we are optimistic for a good result.”