All six BMW drivers for the forthcoming 2012 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season were in action at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia last week as the Munich-based manufacturer participated in its penultimate test before the DTM season begins in five weeks time.
BMW Team Schnitzer, BMW Team RBM and BMW Team RMG were joined at the circuit near Valencia by DTM rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz for further pre-season testing. A rainy day on Tuesday allowed all of the drivers to experience some wet running in the new BMW M3 DTM, with the following three days sunny and dry.
Team Schnitzer’s Bruno Spengler, DTM runner-up in 2006 and 2007, explained that the wet day on Tuesday was crucial in understanding the new car in different conditions. “That was a productive and interesting test. Day one was the first time we’ve actually driven in completely wet conditions,” said Canadian Spengler. “It is very important to gain experience of driving in the rain, so the weather suited us down to the ground. The conditions changed regularly throughout the course of the day. Despite this, we were able to try out a lot of things. We put particular attention on our pit stops, to make sure we are in top form for the curtain-raiser. We are making very good progress.”
Spengler’s 2012 team-mate at Schnitzer, Dirk Werner, is already feeling confident ahead of the new season, thanks to the extensive preparation that BMW have been putting in. “It is great to see that we are making progress with every test,” said Werner. “We now have the majority of our preparations behind us. That makes it all the more important to make the most of every test day. We certainly did that here in Valencia. I spent a lot of time behind the wheel and felt comfortable in the car. The cooperation with BMW Team Schnitzer is also going really well. We are growing together, which is very important.”
Making his DTM début in 2012 is former triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx, who praised the work of his BMW team for the developments made to his M3. “Firstly, I’d like to pay a huge compliment to BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RBM: the current condition of our car is a big step forward.
“We should be well-prepared for the final test in Hockenheim and the season-opener at the end of April. We have once again gained valuable experience in Valencia. Even in the rain on Tuesday I coped well. I am very happy.”
Also making his début in 2012 is former WTCC racer Augusto Farfus. “The car we drove in Valencia is almost in the condition it will be in when we line up for the curtain-raiser. The balance was very good, and we are steadily making progress. The rain on the first day did not hamper us. We were still able to get through the programme we had planned. I am in really high spirits. Our opponents are strong – but we have nothing to fear.”
BMW Team RMG’s reigning DTM champion Martin Tomczyk added: “That was a good test, particularly as we were also able to drive in wet conditions on the first day. You can sense that the start of the season is approaching and the tension is rising. At the same time, we are constantly sorting out more issues and are making good progress with the fine tuning of the cars. That obviously affects the performance. We will be carrying out detailed work again in Hockenheim at the start of April.”
Tomczyk’s team-mate for 2012, American Joey Hand, took part in the test shortly after taking victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring the previous weekend. Hand is making his début in the DTM this year, although he has significant experience in racing BMW’s GT cars in the USA.
“I obviously arrived in Valencia with the wind in my sails following the GT victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring,” said Hand. “Last year the success in Florida was just the beginning of the best year of my career so far. I hope that is the case again this time. I had absolutely no problem switching from the BMW M3 GT to the BMW M3 DTM. I just love driving the DTM car. We are now at a point where we can concentrate on fine-tuning the car. That worked well.”
The final DTM test takes place at the Hockenheimring in Germany between the 2nd and 5th April 2012, just before the DTM season begins in earnest on the 29th April later in the month.