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Former WRT Audi DTM Program Manager Joins BMW

BMW signs WRT Audi squad’s former DTM program manager to oversee its own project…

Photo: Alex Barros Photography

The former program manager of the WRT Audi DTM team, Maurizio Leschiutta, has joined BMW as the manufacturer’s track operations director for the 2020 season.

Leschiutta departs WRT after one year with the decorated GT squad, which was a new customer addition to the DTM grid for 2019 with a two-car Audi RS 5 Turbo entry.

BMW’s new DTM program leader formerly worked with the Ferrari Formula 1 team and was a key figure on the Maserati MC12 GT1 project’s engineering side.

At a recent press event, BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt described Lescuitta as the “perfect fit” for the marque’s Class One program.

“With Maurizio Leschiutta we have a new guy on board who will run the DTM operation next year,” he said.

“We will form the team around him with very intensive work over the next few weeks and months.

“He has a vast experience in motorsport. I think we have experts on all levels, but what we need in the program is leadership.

“BMW runs two teams and six cars, all of them together, and we need to get the maximum out of that. In that respect, I think a guy like Maurizio with his experience is exactly the right guy.

“I met him along the lines already a few times before. Unfortunately, we never came together [for work] but now I’m super happy that we have.

“I think he is really the perfect fit. Yes, he has only one year of experience directly in DTM. But with everything else that we have in place, he will lead the team in the way he is as a person, on a very successful level.”

WRT has pledged to return to the championship next year, although full details of its program have yet to be announced.

The Vincent Vosse-led outfit ran two full-season cars last season while its highest-ranked driver, Jonathan Aberdein, was tenth in the final drivers’ classification.

BMW Pushing to Improve on Last Season

Marquardt explained that Lesciutta’s appointment will contribute to a drive towards better season-long results next year after BMW endured a tough end to 2019.

A promising start saw a BMW driver win on every race weekend up to round six at Brands Hatch in August, but the manufacturer’s results dipped in the second half of the campaign as Audi went on to dominate.

Third-placed Marco Wittmann was the best of the BMW drivers in the individual championship while Audi beat BMW to the constructors’ title by 582 points.

“It started quite well but at the end, you have to say, the second half of the season was not at all what we expected it to be like,” said Marquardt.

“We are disappointed with the outcome and there is lots of work for us to do. But I think, at least towards the end, we have seen where we need to attack.

“Technically, we need to work on all the durability issues that we had on our car so that we get it back into the performance window where it needs to be.

“This is what we are working on intensively this week in Jerez [at the rookie test] where we have the first version of [the car] that we will have in place for next year.

“There is quite some work for us to do over the winter, but we are working on this intensively.”

BMW’s involvement in DTM looks set to be increased next year with the possibility of customer M4s joining the grid. Marquardt confirmed that there will be “at least” the six current factory cars in competition.

Additionally, BMW has been linked to supplying engines for the R-Motorsport Aston Martin program, however Marquardt declined to comment on whether contact between the two parties had been made.

“I read about those speculations, but as always we don’t participate in speculation,” he said.

“If there is something to be announced, I think R-Motorsport will be the ones to announce it.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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