The two-day test at the 5.344-kilometre Aragón track, just outside Alcañiz, Spain, saw endurance racer Maxime Martin and Swiss GP2 ace Fabio Leimer get their first chance at trying out the M3 DTM, as BMW Motorsport were carrying out preparations for the final round at Hockenheim, which takes place in just over a fortnight’s time.
Team RMG and Team RBM ran one M3 DTM each at the track during the test, with test and development driver Marco Wittman, and current paddock regular, Joey Hand, also there to help gain some valuable track time, especially with Team Schnitzer’s Bruno Spengler just a few points behind series leader, Gary Paffett, going into the last race.
Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said that the young duo did a great job, helping the cars to cover over 2,500 kilometres on Wednesday and Thursday, as conditions enabled some long runs, with the focus not that far away from a more pressing and possibly historic occasion: “We wanted to give them the opportunity to familiarise themselves with a DTM car. Both Fabio and Maxime did that very well – and they were soon driving to a high standard. We are now concentrating fully on our preparations for the season finale in Hockenheim.”
Wittman, himself, ended up completing 754 kilometres on the very first day, which is the most mileage completed by the Munich manufacturer since the M3 DTM was fired up for the first-ever roll out late last year.
Both drivers got used to the M3 DTM, and made good use of the opportunity to really get to know the nuances of the way the car behaves. Racing Engineering’s Leimer said that it felt a bit strange at first to have to adapt his driving style, as until now, the 23-year-old had only been behind the wheel of single-seaters, including Formula BMW, but grew more confident as the laps passed by: “However, I felt better with every lap, although this was my first outing in Aragón and so initially I had to get used to the circuit. What impressed me most about the DTM car was definitely the downforce. It was a really cool day.”
Martin, who races for the Marc VDS Racing Team, that currently use the Z4 GT3, was very impressed with BMW’s new baby, and thoroughly enjoyed his first experience behind the wheel of the M3, which was a new adventure for the 26-year-old Belgian, who looks set to win the Blancpain Endurance Series next weekend: “The aerodynamics, weight and carbon brakes were the biggest differences. The DTM cars have an enormous amount of downforce and the light weight means you can brake much, much later than in a GT car. I already knew the circuit, which helped me a bit as I was getting used to the car.”
So it seems that BMW may be seeing just who may be in the fray for joining Team MTEK for next season, as preparations are underway for drivers to be put through their paces, with Marquardt being the man making the decisions that could help the future of Munich’s rapid rise on its return to the DTM, after a 20-year hiatus. 2013 could be very interesting indeed, as BMW looks to make history in the DTM once again this season…..