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BMW Wants Zandvoort Schedule Change to Avert Test Day Clash

BMW hoping to race “two to three hours earlier” at Zandvoort on Sunday, says motorsport boss Andreas Roos…

Photo: Gruppe C Photography

BMW is in discussion with DTM to change the start time of its Sunday race at Zandvoort to allow its three drivers to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day.

The Munich brand’s motorsport director Andreas Roos told Sportscar365 that BMW has requested ADAC to implement a one-off schedule change in order to divert away from the traditional 1:30 p.m. start time.

This is because the sixth race of the championship at Zandvoort, held on June 8-9, takes place on the same day as the Le Mans test day.

At the time of writing, BMW’s three drivers in Sheldon van der Linde, Rene Rast and Marco Wittmann as well as ABT Sportsline’s Kelvin van der Linde, SSR Performance driver Mirko Bortolotti and Emil Frey Racing star Jack Aitken are set to be affected by the clash.

Roos explained that he hopes to find a solution that would allow the affected drivers to leave “two to three hours earlier,” which would give them time to travel by plane from The Netherlands in order to arrive at the Circuit de la Sarthe in time to complete laps.

“We are in discussion with ADAC and DTM, if there is a possibility maybe to move this,” Roos told Sportscar365.

“I think we are not the only ones. There are some other drivers from other manufacturers who will have the same topic.

“We have to take a decision fast. It would be ideal if we we can combine both because DTM is an important championship.

“For sure, we don’t want to pull drivers out on the Sunday race. But also, the test day is very important for us.

“So also, it would be important to have the drivers there. So we are in the discussion. We have to see what is possible.”

Broadly speaking, each driver looking to compete at Le Mans is required to take part in the test day and complete a minimum of ten laps, including five timed, although drivers have missed it in the past.

Clashes between the test day and events elsewhere are not uncommon. Last year, current Hypercar drivers Rast, Sebastien Buemi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Robin Frijns, Norman Nato and Nico Mueller all sat out the test day due to clashing commitments with the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Jakarta.

This is because there are exemptions in place specifically for Platinum drivers, which are allowed to skip test day if they have taken part in the race in the last five years.

This would clear Rast, Bortolotti and Aitken, who both were part of the grid last year, although the van der Linde brothers and Wittmann will all make their debuts in the French endurance classic this year.

However, the Le Mans supplementary regulations state that a driver participating in an “international competition” may be allowed to sit out the test day, granted the team submits a motivated written request to the ACO’s Sport Committee.

Should the exemption be granted, the drivers involved are then required to complete a minimum of five timed laps (passing the control line on track) during the first Free Practice session on Wednesday.

Despite that, Roos argued that the BMW drivers participating in the test day isn’t just a matter of fulfilling regulations, but explained that it offers valuable track time ahead of the BMW M Hybrid V8’s Le Mans debut.

“For us, it’s an important race and it’s important to prepare us and also the drivers as good as possible,” said Roos.

“This is why for us it’s important to give the guys the track time. Otherwise, they can only drive it in the simulator, but not on the real track.

“Rene, for sure, he was there several times but on the other hand, this is also very important for us because he is somebody who has raced there already, also with LMP1 cars. To give us the feedback.

“Because when you are a new driver on the track, maybe some things are new to you. Rene is then the guy who can also judge if this is something track specific.

“So at the end, all three drivers are important for us to have at the prologue. For us it’s not only the two things.

“For sure, it’s the thing to fulfill the regulation, to tick this box, to have the laps. But it’s how you can prepare best for one of the most important races you have.”

A DTM spokesperson confirmed to Sportscar365 that it has been contacted by BMW about a potential schedule change and is assessing options.

“DTM races are broadcasted live in more than 150 territories worldwide, so we have to evaluate this request very carefully as a lot would be affected,” a statement issued by ADAC read.

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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