BMW completed its DTM young driver evaluation testing in Jerez this week, with four young drivers getting to grips with a 2018-spec M4, whilst Marco Wittmann and Bruno Spengler continued testing of the marque’s 2019-spec car.
Mikkel Jensen (Denmark), Nicky Catsburg (The Netherlands), Sheldon van der Linde (South Africa) and Nick Yelloly (United Kingdom) all tested a 2018 BMW M4 DTM in the colours of Deutsche Post between Monday and Wednesday.
For Jensen, it was his second season as a BMW Motorsport Junior in 2018, culminating in the opportunity to try out contemporary DTM machinery. The 23-year-old spent the season sharing a BMW M6 GT3 with Timo Scheider in the ADAC GT Masters series.
“I know the BMW M4 DTM as a race taxi, but to drive the real race car in a test on the track is something different,” said Jensen. “You think you could use you experience from the taxi but you have to put the car on the limit in a different way.
“You have to really fine-tune your driving style to be fast and there is always something you can find in every corner. That was really interesting.
“The carbon brakes are amazing, as they bite really hard. It was fantastic to feel how the car was stopping. And the high-speed corners: when you are used to GT cars, you think you sit in the same type of car. But the BMW M4 DTM just goes so much faster in the corner.”
Catsburg, who has signed to race in the FIA World Touring Car Cup with Hyundai in 2019, has also been racing a BMW M8 GTE in the FIA World Endurance Championship [WEC] in the past season.
“The big difference to the BMW M8 GTE and the BMW M6 GT3 I usually drive is the high-speed cornering,” explained Catdburg. “The downforce level is much higher and the braking was something I had to get used to.
“The BMW M4 DTM is a very impressive car, pretty much as I expected as I had already heard that it’s really cool car – and that’s honestly true. A very cool car to drive.”
Yelloly got the chance to driver the M4 DTM after the 28-year-old raced with ROWE Racing in the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at the wheel of a BMW M6 GT3. The Brit was previously a single-seater racer, having made it up to the GP2 level.
At the same time, BMW continued work on its Class 1 M4 car for 2019, with champions Wittmann and Spengler taking turns in the car.
The biggest change for next season is the adoption of turbo engines, although the cars also feature larger aerodynamic devices and a more aggressive look, whilst also being faster than the previous generation of cars.
“Our job at the tests was to make progress with the development of the new car,” said Wittmann. “One focus was on the new turbo engine: it is important to understand this better, and to fine tune it, from test to test.
“The engineers, teams and us drivers obviously still have a lot of work ahead of us, to be well prepared going into the new season. After all, this is the start of a new era in the DTM.
“However, we are all excited and very much looking forward to it. More power is always cool for us drivers.
“The test at Jerez was another important step towards the new season and we have now all – drivers, mechanics, engineers – earned our Christmas. I would like to wish the fans, who can look forward to an exciting DTM season in 2019, a very merry Christmas.”