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BMW Confirms 2018 IMSA & WEC Driver Line-Ups

At end-of-season review event

BMW Motorsport made various announcements concerning its 2018 GT commitments across the globe, in GT3, GTE and GTLM during its end-of-season review event in Germany.

Here’s a rundown of what was announced:

GTLM

For its BMW Team RLL IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM programme, BMW revealed its full driver line-up.

As was previously announced, American Connor De Phillippi will race, with John Edwards, Alexander Sims and former BMW Motorsport Junior Jesse Krohn. New BMW NA Brand Ambassador Bill Auberlen, Nick Catsburg, Philipp Eng and Augusto Farfus will also drive for the team in endurance races.

“In Connor De Phillippi, we have brought another absolute GT specialist into the team,” said BMW Motorsport head Jens Marquardt. “I am also pleased to see our former BMW Motorsport Junior Jesse Krohn promoted to the works programme. At this point, I would like to once again express my respect for Bill Auberlen.

“No other driver has been as closely associated with BMW as he has. 400 races for one manufacturer – that is unique.”

BMW also announced that Italian racing legend Alex Zanardi will contest the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours in a modified M8 GTE, after a developmental “Road To Daytona” programme.

GTE

After intense preparations, BMW Team MTEK and team principal Ernest Knoors will field two new BMW M8 GTE cars when BMW Motorsport makes its debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa next May.

The regular drivers for the complete season will be Nick Catsburg, Augusto Farfus (who will also race full-time in DTM), António Félix da Costa and Martin Tomczyk.

Over the course of the season, they will be supported at individual races by BMW works drivers Tom Blomqvist, Philipp Eng and Alexander Sims.

“The drivers in our WEC squad have been intensely involved in the development work on the BMW M8 GTE from the outset,” said Marquardt.

“The combination of GT experience and race talent means we are ideally positioned to achieve good results in our first season in uncharted territory.”

GT3

On the GT3 front, with customers and factory-backed efforts, the M6 will be very busy indeed in 2018 racing around the world.

Specifically, at the event BMW stated that the car will contest the ‘big races’ with 2016 Spa 24 Hours winner ROWE Racing and BMW stalwart Team Schnitzer.

For its 2018 Bathurst 12 Hour programme in particular, in addition to the previously announce BMW SRM M6 GT3 line-up, Schnitzer’s set of drivers was revealed.

The team’s entry features a mix of Australian talent and BMW works drivers; Chaz Mostert to be joined by double DTM champion Marco Wittmann and Brazilian Bathurst debutant Augusto Farfus.

While it has never raced at the 12 Hour, Schnitzer has Bathurst experience, all be it back in 1987 when it took on the Bathurst 1000 as part of the World Touring Car Championship calendar.

The team ran a pair of BMW M3s; Emanuele Pirro and Roberto Raviglia finishing 12th while the sister car of Markus Oesterich and Roland Ratzenberger failed to finish.

“I’m pumped to be heading back to the Bathurst 12 Hour and to be back in a BMW M6 GT3. To be doing it with such an iconic team and with a driver line-up that strong is incredible,” Mostert said.

“It’s a real honour, because I know that there are top level GT drivers all over the world doing their best to get on the Bathurst grid. I worked hard to get some more GT miles in my schedule this year, so hopefully that will be a bit of a leg-up for Bathurst too.

“These endurance events aren’t about being the quickest car out of the gate, it’s about us doing a solid job as a team, having the car prepped as well as possible, and settling on a set-up that will look after the tyres and brakes.

“It’s a bit like the Bathurst 1000; there are 99 things that can go wrong to everyone that goes right.

“We’re looking forward to having a red-hot crack. It’ll be awesome to try and get that trophy for BMW.”

Other announcements

Elsewhere at the event, BMW said a thank you to Dr Ian Robertson, a BMW board member who will retire at the end of the year.

The German marque also said its goodbyes to Maxime Martin, the Belgian, who announced earlier this week that he’ll be moving on from BMW in 2018, after being a factory driver for the past five years.