Bruno Spengler is to leave the DTM Series for 2020 but will stay under the BMW Motorsport umbrella through the marque’s programme in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Spengler has driven in 195 races over the course of his 15 years in the DTM, winning his sole championship title in 2012 with Team Schnitzer – his first season with BMW after seven years with Mercedes Benz.
The French-born Canadian also took his sixteenth and seemingly final DTM victory at the Norisring in June with Team RMG, on his way to ninth in the championship at the end of a testing year for BMW – his first top 10 position in the final standings for four years.
2020 will see Spengler continue as reserve driver for BMW i Andretti Motorsport in ABB FIA Formula E alongside his new-found commitments with BMW Team RLL in the IMSA series driving the M8 GTE.
36-year-old Spengler’s first race will be the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January, an event that BMW took a class victory at in 2019.
In a statement released by BMW on Tuesday morning, Spengler said that he feels ready to “write a new chapter” in the autumn of his career.
“Firstly, I am obviously disappointed that I will no longer be racing in the DTM in 2020,” said Spengler.
“I had a fantastic time for 15 years, during which time the DTM became part of my family. I have been racing in the DTM for almost half of my life.
“In my 195 races, I have enjoyed some fantastic success – above all, of course, my title win with BMW at Hockenheim in 2012.
“This title win will forever be very closely linked to Charly Lamm [Former Team Schnitzer boss who died in January] for me. As a sportsman, I would obviously have liked to have stuck around for a few more years.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my mechanics and engineers who I have worked with all these years, and with whom I have celebrated so many successes.
“Even though it has come as something of a surprise to me that I won’t be contesting my sixteenth DTM season, I’m looking ahead. I feel right at home in the BMW family, am about to face a new challenge, and am ready to write a new chapter in my career.
“I know the BMW M8 GTE, BMW Team RLL and some of the circuits in North America. As such, I think I will find my feet quickly there.”
BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt paid tribute to Spengler’s influence and longevity in the DTM, noting his milestone of surpassing 1000 career points in the championship with a second place at the Nürburgring in September.
“Very few drivers have had as big an influence on the DTM as Bruno Spengler has in the past 15 years,” said Marquardt.
“In winning the title in his first season for BMW in 2012, he achieved something that nobody believed possible at the time.
“In doing so, he earned a permanent place in the history of BMW Motorsport.
“Of the 122 DTM races he has contested for us, he won seven. His latest victory at the Norisring last season was another very emotional one.”
“Nevertheless, we were of the opinion that 2020 is the right time to head in a new direction together for the coming years. This decision was not an easy one for us.
“However, as we do at the end of every season, we took a very close look at our squad of drivers and are confident that Bruno, with all his experience, can help us make progress in the IMSA series.”
The could be a chance of Spengler returning as a guest driver at some point in the 2020 season, affording him the opportunity to bid farewell to the series and its fanbase.
BMW has confirmed that it will continue to run six cars in the DTM, with former Williams Racing Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica the leading candidate for the seat after impressing in last week’s Young Driver Test at the Circuito de Jerez.
GT factory driver Nick Yelloly is also believed to be in the frame, and could find himself in a seat depending on the verdict of BMW’s DTM evaluation and reshuffling.