BMW has adjusted its factory team roster with long-time partners Schnitzer Motorsport and RBM no longer having an involvement in the company’s racing activities from next year.
The Munich-based manufacturer has cited the end of the Class One regulations in the DTM as a leading factor in its move to reduce the number of factory-supported teams.
With the German-based series switching to GT3 regulations for 2021, BMW is no longer providing a works team presence there.
A statement from BMW read: “The collaboration with BMW Team RBM is ending, as there is no longer a classic works involvement in the new, customer racing-based DTM.
“The necessary realignment of the works-based team structure also means that the partnership with BMW Team Schnitzer will not be continued.”
Until Friday’s announcement, Schnitzer was working on the development of the new BMW M4 GT3 but that task will now be carried out by Team RMG, which is staying on.
The iconic Schnitzer squad is synonymous with BMW’s racing programs having operated its cars for just over half a century.
Its achievements include orchestrating BMW’s only outright 24 Hours of Le Mans victory in 1999 with the V12 LMR and winning various major touring car accolades including the European and World Touring Car Championships and the 24 Hours of Spa.
It also won the Nürburgring 24 with BMW during the event’s ongoing GT era in 2004, 2005 and 2010.
More recently Schnitzer has focused on GT racing after its role as a factory DTM team expired at the end of the 2016 season.
Schnitzer’s program last year focused on the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, but for 2020 it was reassigned to concentrate on the M4 GT3’s development.
The team’s only race appearances this year came at the Nürburgring, where it finished second in the 24-hour race with a BMW M6 GT3 driven by Sheldon van der Linde, Martin Tomczyk, Jens Klingmann and Augusto Farfus.
“We very much regret that, given the changes in motorsport, it is no longer possible to continue the cooperation with BMW Motorsport,” said Schnitzer Motorsport team principal Herbert Schnitzer Jr.
“However, we obviously understand and respect the decision. We are proud that we Schnitzers have, together with BMW, shaped international motorsport for so many decades.
“It is a pleasure to look back on all the big successes we have enjoyed together in such a wide range of categories. We are also very proud to be a part of motorsport history at BMW.
“We would like to thank BMW Motorsport for this long, unique partnership. BMW was our life and our passion.”
RBM has also held a long association with BMW, becoming an official works team at the beginning of 2006 after sealing the first of three consecutive FIA World Touring Car Championship titles with Andy Priaulx.
It was named as part of BMW’s lineup for the brand’s return to the DTM in 2012 and maintained its presence there until the end of this year.
Its team principal Bart Mampaey expressed interest in finding new racing opportunities for RBM in the future, following its exit from the BMW factory setup.
“It is a great shame, but we respect the fact that BMW Motorsport is unable to continue the collaboration with us as a works team,” he said.
“I would like to thank BMW for the fantastic partnership, which we have enjoyed for 25 long years.
“BMW has always been at our side, from the very beginning to the final curtain in the DTM, and our relationship will remain a strong one, even if we are no longer a works team.
“Times are changing and we are all facing a challenging future.
“At RBM, we will initially reduce our racing activities. However, that does not mean this is the end of our motorsport chapter. We want to continue in motor racing and see what options arise.
“I also think that we can apply the values and skills that we have at RBM in other industries outside motorsport. They always say: when one door closes, another one opens. So I am very excited to see what opportunities come our way in the future.”
RMG is the only one of the three original BMW DTM outfits from 2012 still a part of the manufacturer’s plans.
Its team principal Stefan Reinhold said it will be “very exciting” to help develop the M4 GT3, which is expected to debut next year ahead of its full customer rollout in 2022.
“We are very much looking forward to our new role as development team for the BMW M4 GT3, and thank BMW Motorsport for the faith it has placed in us,” he said.
“The BMW M4 GT3 is the new flagship of BMW Motorsport, and we will do our bit to make it another successful BMW.
“For us as racers and technicians, it is very exciting to be closely involved in the development of a race car. We will now apply all our know-how and skills to this project.”