BMW lines up again in 2009 WTCC - Return to the ALMS.
Munich, 29th November 2008. In 2009 BMW Motorsport will put its touring and sports car programmes into action on several popular stages, and will use racing versions of the BMW 3 series to fight for victories and titles: BMW once again take part in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, where the marque will be aiming to recapture the World Championship titles it missed out on with the BMW 320si WTCC in 2008. The newly developed BMW M3 ALMS will line up in the American Le Mans Series, where it is charged with writing another chapter in the success story of BMW in the US. "Touring cars have traditionally been very important to BMW," says BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "The same applied to GT sport, to which we are returning in 2009 with the new BMW M3. Our commitment to the World Touring Car Championship and the ALMS will allow us to demonstrate the sporting properties of our cars to a wider public."
Between 2005 and 2007, BMW won all the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships in the WTCC. Last year it had to make do with second place for the first time. Theissen explains: "I am pleased that a compromise was reached regarding the 2009 rules. This balances out the different engine concepts and should allow for fair and even competition between the manufacturers. We are absolutely determined to be back at the top of the WTCC at the finale of the 2009 season in Macau. We shall announce our team and driver line up at a later point in time."
BMW Team Rahal-Letterman Racing is also aiming to reach the top as quickly as possible. The team is responsible for the BMW M3 in the ALMS. Following a comprehensive test programme, the impressive GT sports car will make its racing debut in Sebring on 21st March 2009. "The BMW M3 is more than just a racing car," says Theissen. "It is a legend among motorsport fans around the world. We are initially concentrating on being competitive quickly in the ALMS. Other areas of racing are also possible, and we shall be analysing them in greater detail over the coming months." Bill Auberlen (US) and Joey Hand (US) have already been confirmed as drivers for the ALMS programme.
BMW can look back on numerous victories and titles in the ALMS. In 1999 and 2000 the BMW V12 LMR claimed six victories in the prototype class. In 2001 BMW switched to the GT category. The BMW M3 GTR, which was designed specifically for the ALMS, was victorious in all areas: Jorg Muller won the Drivers' Championship, BMW Motorsport took the team title, and BMW won the Manufacturers' Championship in the company's most important foreign market.