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BMW ready for first DTM race in 20 years

BMW will participate in its first Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters race in 20 years when the 2012 season begins at the Hockenheimring this weekend. Fielding six cars from three teams, the marque will bring the M£ back to the DTM.

The German manufacturer was last involved in the DTM back in 1992,having competed in the series between 1984 and 1992. After taking 49 wins and three drivers titles, BMW left the series when it transitioned from the DTM into the ITC (International Touring Car Series).

BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt is eager for the season to start, to allow BMW to determine its position in relation to rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

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“After the long preparation period, every one of us is now desperate to finally get racing and find out how we really compare to the opposition,” said Marquardt. “We have many months of hard work behind us, and certainly an exciting and instructive season ahead of us.

“Hockenheim has a special place in the DTM history of BMW, and we enjoyed major success there between 1984 and 1992. We obviously want to follow on where we left off, but we will have to take it one step at a time. Initially, it is vital for us to learn and gain experience. Everyone in the team is totally motivated. It will undoubtedly be a very special weekend. Not just for the fans, but also for everyone at BMW Motorsport.”

Six drivers will line up on the grid in BMW M3 DTM race cars this season. Reigning champion Martin Tomczyk is already feeling the pressure building ahead of what is surely the biggest DTM season in many years.

“Even though I have been racing in the DTM for many years, I still get butterflies in my stomach ahead of the start of a season,” said German Tomczyk. “The tension is definitely rising. I am ready for Hockenheim. The winter was intense and obviously involved a lot of development work. However, we can be happy with the result. It goes without saying that I am very excited about discovering the balance of power at the Hockenheimring, and hope we can get as close as possible to our more experienced rivals.”

American Joey Hand is to make his DTM début alongside Tomczyk at BMW Team RMG.

“Recently I have often been asked whether I will be nervous before the first round of the DTM,” said the 33 year-old. “To be honest, I am totally relaxed. It is quite simply time to go racing. Many things will be new to me in Hockenheim: the standing start, lightning-quick pit stops, shorter races than I am used to. I am not worried, however, as we are very well prepared. I will go out there and do the best job possible. I am very proud that BMW has given me the opportunity to be the first American to drive in the DTM.”

Canadian Bruno Spengler, who took two wins on his way to third overall in last year’s championship, still believes that rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz will be able to use their DTM experience to start the season with an advantage.

“It is great for me to be a part of this and to experience this special moment,” said Spengler. “We worked very hard to gain as much experience as possible over the winter. Our rivals have an advantage over us in this regard, but we want to catch up as soon as possible. To me, this feels like I am starting my career from scratch again.”

German Dirk Werner makes his DTM début in 2012, although he has been racing with BMW in sportscar programmes since 2010.

“I really enjoyed the tests with the BMW M3 DTM, and it was interesting to see the continuous further development of the car,” admits Werner. “I learned a lot in recent months and the team has also worked in a very focussed manner and made huge progress. Like everyone, I will increasingly feel the tension in the run up to the start on Sunday, but I’ll try to deal with it positively. When it comes down to it, I want to enjoy my first DTM race and make a good start to the season.”

Two experienced touring car racers making their DTM début’s this weekend are Brit Andy Priaulx and Brazilian Augusto Farfus. Priaulx has won three World Touring Car Championship titles and 18 WTCC races, whilst Farfus has won 15 races in the WTCC. Both drivers will be racing for BMW team RBM, who also make the switch to the DTM having run a factory BMW team in the WTCC between 2005 and 2010.

Priaulx is approaching the new season with caution as BMW still have much to learn as their DTM programme develops.

“We have spent a long time preparing for this, so it is about time we finally got down to business,” said Priaulx. “I am really proud of what BMW Motorsport and our team have achieved so far. Despite this, we remain realistic. BMW is new to the DTM and we have less experience than our rivals. That is why it is important for us to improve and develop from race to race. Every one of us is relishing the challenge.”

For Farfus, the DTM presents yet another new challenge. Since leaving the WTCC in 2010 the Brazilian has raced in the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup for the German manufacturer.

“I am very excited and enthusiastic, but at the same time very curious ahead of my debut in the DTM this weekend,” explained Farfus. “It has been a long hard road to get to this event with an amazing learning curve which we are still on. Everyone in the team has given 100 percent and more in recent months, so we are as well prepared as possible. We are entering the next phase now, and want to prove that we have given ourselves a good basis.”

For BMW, opening the new season at Hockenheim will provide a welcome boost – the brand has historically had more success at the Baden-Württemberg circuit than any other on the calendar, having won ten races there.

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