After months of waiting, the BMW DTM teams will finally get the 2020 DTM season underway at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Both BMW Team RMG and BMW Team RBM will field three BMW M4 DTMs each with two German drivers, Marco Wittmann & Timo Glock; two Austrians, Philipp Eng & Lucas Auer and two South African drivers, Sheldon van der Linde & Jonathan Aberdein.
The BMW DTM works drivers are all very familiar with the Ardennes rollercoaster that is Spa-Francorchamps from racing in other series, it will, however, be a new challenge for the BMW M4 DTM car as the last time the Belgian circuit hosted a DTM race was back in 2005.
An additional challenge this coming weekend is the hectic timetable. The two-day event kicks off on Saturday morning with free practice at 09:00 local time, before the first qualifying of the year gets underway at 10:55. Race one starts at 13:33 on Saturday with the grid presentation starting at 13:00. The same schedule applies on Sunday.
“We have waited a long time, but we can now finally get the 2020 DTM started at Spa-Francorchamps,” said Jens Marquardt, Director of BMW Group Motorsport. “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.”
Stefan Reinhold, Team Principal BMW Team RMG added “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.”
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. 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.
Bart Mampaey, Team Principal BMW Team RBM stated “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.”
Spa-Francorchamps hosts the opening round of a compact calendar, with a total of nine events being held in just three months. The other venues are the Lausitzring in Germany (double-header), Assen in the Netherlands, the Nürburgring in Germany (double-header), Zolder in Belgium (double-header) and Hockenheim in Germany.