BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt says they have a “good plan” in place to combat two critical weekends this year that will see all three of its factory programs in action.
The German manufacturer’s FIA World Endurance Championship debut in next month’s Six Hours of Spa falls on the same weekend as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Mid-Ohio as well as the DTM season-opener in Hockenheim.
A second three-way clash occurs on Oct. 12-14, which features the WEC round at Fuji, DTM season finale at Hockenheim and also the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
It’s resulted in adjusted driver lineups for the two WEC races, with Tom Blomqvist set to sub for Augusto Farfus at both Spa and Fuji due to the Brazilian’s full-season DTM commitments.
With Alexander Sims unavailable for Spa because of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Mid-Ohio and Phillip Eng also in Hockenheim for DTM, the pair of MTEK-run BMW M8 GTEs will feature two-driver lineups for the May 3-5 event.
Blomqvist will join full-season driver Antonio Felix Da Costa at the wheel of the No. 82 BMW at Spa, with Martin Tomczyk and Nick Catsburg in the No. 81 entry.
Sims and Eng, meanwhile, will complete MTEK’s lineup at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Farfus in place of Blomqvist, who is expected to serve as a reserve driver for the French endurance classic.
“We have a good plan in mind, we try to keep focus on certain things and that’s a question that’s going to come up, how we’re dealing with Spa and the DTM,” Marquardt said.
Marquardt said no consideration was given for Farfus to pull double duty between Spa and Hockenheim that weekend, despite the close proximity of the two circuits.
Audi DTM driver Loic Duval, who is also set to contest the WEC season in TDS Racing’s LMP2 entry, is planning to commute between the two events.
“To me, this is because they are very different programs, very different cars, on the same weekend,” Marquardt said of Farfus’ two programs.
“To do two things half, and not get a good result in either, is not the worth the effort with helicopter shuttles or whatever.”
October Clash Under Control
The driver puzzle is nearly complete for the other three-way clash on Oct. 12-14, with only one seat undetermined out of the ten BMWs in action on three continents that weekend.
Jesse Krohn and John Edwards’ co-driver in the No. 24 BMW at Petit Le Mans remains unclear, due to Catsburg’s WEC commitment taking priority over his initially announced Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup program with BMW Team RLL.
Catsburg was due to take part in the 10-hour race at Road Atlanta prior to the WEC moving the Fuji date back one week, which triggered the clash.
It’s believed that newly named BMW Junior Colton Herta, who is Team RLL’s nominated test and reserve driver, could be in the frame to fill the seat for the ten-hour race.
Bill Auberlen will be the team’s third driver in the No. 25 entry alongside Sims and Connor De Phillippi.
BMW, meanwhile, has yet to confirm WEC driver lineups for the final three rounds of the 2018-19 season at Sebring, Spa and Le Mans due to potential clashes with both IMSA and Formula E, which has yet to release its 2019 calendars.
Marquardt, however, remains confident solutions will be found with its deep talent pool.
“At the end of the day we are in a very good position, because we don’t only have these two GTE programs, we have DTM, we have Formula E, and GT3 programs we support as well,” he said.
“We have a fantastic driver lineup within BMW and to be honest it’s really more to put the right guys in the right spot than having to struggle to find drivers to run our programs.”