Marc VDS Racing Team makes its return to the European Le Mans Series for the first time in four years, as the Belgian squad uses Sunday’s season-ending Four Hours of Estoril as a toe-in-the-water experience to help determine its 2015 programs. (En Français)
Bas Leinders, Markus Palttala and Henry Hassid will pilot the team’s BMW Z4 GT3 this weekend, as the trio seeks top honors in the GTC class.
“The team is looking for new horizons,” Marc VDS technical director Sebastian Metz told Endurance-Info. “We’ve come to the ELMS to get an idea of the championship.
“We want to remain in endurance racing and this championship is an option for the future. The priority right now is to fight at the highest level.”
While having previously been a regular competitor in the SRO-run championships, the Marc van der Straten-owned team opted for a partial program this year around the 24-hour races at the Nurburgring and Spa, plus a handful of VLN rounds.
As for the future, all options are being explored, although Marc VDS has stated its desire to remain with BMW, where it has been one of two factory supported teams with the German manufacturer.
“We should know more soon, but several programs are being considered: GTE, GT3, LMP2. Nothing has been ruled out,” Metz said.
“In the past, the team has run three cars in the 24 Hours of Spa or four Fords in the GT1 World Championship. On paper, running two different cars does not scare us.
“However, there’s no plans to go to FIA WEC because it’s a series that we believe is reserved for manufacturers.”
A return to Nurburgring and Spa should be on the cards next year, likely again with BMW, which will soon roll out the new M6 GT3.
However, no confirmation has been made if the team will run the new-generation car, which is expected to make its race debut some time next year in the hands of a factory supported effort.
“As a team running BMWs, we need to look at what makes the brand, but the project has just been presented,” Metz said. “It’s a bit premature to talk about it…”
Theoretically, another option could be to run the Z4 GTE car in the ELMS, although BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt recently told Sportscar365 that only three of those cars have been built, two of them for its factory program in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
“At the moment, we haven’t put the whole plan together,” Marquardt said when asked about the possibility of Z4 GTEs in ELMS. “We need to see what the demand is and how we can cope with that.”