Spa 24H: BMW interview with Mario Theissen

Theissen: "The whole team can be proud of its performance". Munich, 6th August 2010. Last weekend, Team BMW Motorsport completed its third 24-hour race of the season with the BMW M3 GT2 in Spa-Francorchamps (BE). At the same time, racing in a...

Theissen: "The whole team can be proud of its performance".

Munich, 6th August 2010. Last weekend, Team BMW Motorsport completed its third 24-hour race of the season with the BMW M3 GT2 in Spa-Francorchamps (BE). At the same time, racing in a BMW 320si WTCC in Brno (CZ), Andy Priaulx (GB) celebrated the 50th victory for the brand in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

Speaking in an interview, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen takes stock of BMW's activities in touring car and GT racing in 2010.

Mr Theissen, what are your feelings after the BMW M3 GT2's outings in the three European 24-hour classics?

Mario Theissen: "All in all we are happy with our starts at the Nurburgring, in Le Mans and in Spa-Francorchamps. Of course, the highlight was the very first outing in the Eifel Mountains. Although we were faced with a very short preparation time with the BMW M3 GT2, we were able to celebrate our 19th victory at this classic. The key to this win was without doubt the reliability of our car. We were not necessarily the fastest, but were able to clock consistent times right through to the end of the race. This is a decisive factor in that kind of marathon."

In Le Mans, the 17th BMW Art Car was the focus of much attention...

Mario Theissen: "Correct. It was fascinating to see how much attention the Jeff Koons-designed BMW M3 GT2 Art Car attracted. It was also nice to be back at this impressive event following our victory with the BMW V12 LMR in 1999. Unfortunately, from a sporting point of view, things did not go exactly to plan. We had even less preparation with the BMW M3 GT2 in the ACO specification than we did for the race at the Nurburgring. Furthermore, we had to race with a smaller air restrictor, which made life even more difficult for us. Ultimately, sixth place in the LM GT2 class was not what we had hoped for. Despite this, we gained valuable experience, which we incorporated in the development of the BMW M3 GT2."

How disappointed are you after just missing out on victory in Spa- Francorchamps?

Theissen: "Letting victory slip out of our hands just 40 minutes from the end of the race was tough to take for everyone in the team. However, things usually balance themselves out in motorsport. We were a little fortunate at the Nurburgring, and came away with a win. In Spa-Francorchamps we were very well prepared and very quick on the track. It is a shame we lost the lead on what was, to a certain degree, the finishing straight. Despite this the whole team can be proud of its performance. The team, the drivers and our tyre partner Dunlop have turned the BMW M3 GT2 into a success model over the past months."

Where else will we see the BMW M3 GT2 in action this year?

Theissen: "Firstly, the BMW M3 GT2 will continue to challenge for the title in the GT class in the American Le Mans Series. The situation at the moment is very promising for the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team. Our drivers are currently second and third in the Drivers' Championship, and we are just one point off the lead in the team and manufacturer standings. As such, we are in an excellent position to set our sights on the first title in the ALMS since 2001 going into the final four races of the season. BMW is also competing in the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Alongside the Petit Le Mans event in Road Atlanta, which forms part of the ALMS, we will also line up in Silverstone and Zhuhai. After our recent upward trend, I am confident we can also perform well in this series."

The World Touring Car Championship is in a five-week summer break. How happy are you with the way the season has gone so far?

Theissen: "After 14 races, Andy Priaulx is right in the thick of the title race for BMW Team RBM. In Brno he secured the 50th victory for BMW in the series since 2005. It was a particularly important triumph, as Andy's World Championship rivals dropped points. As a result, he was able to move to within 16 points of the lead in the Drivers' Championship. Furthermore, I am delighted BMW privateers have once again been the centre of attention. Colin Turkington, who has so far finished on the podium in three of his six races, deserves a special mention."

What do you expect from the final four events?

Theissen: "Andy's position ahead of the races in Oschersleben, Valencia, Okayama and Macau is a good one. Last year we picked up at least one victory at each of these four circuits. If we manage that again in 2010, we will certainly have a say in the title race. If Andy travels to Macau with a chance of winning the title, as we all hope he will, then anything can happen."

How would you evaluate the first season with the BMW Z4 GT3?

Theissen: "Working together with BMW Motorsport, our customer teams are managing to improve the BMW Z4 GT3 with every race. In the FIA GT3 European Championship, this work has already borne fruit: Schubert Motorsport claimed the first win for our latest customer racing model in Jarama. With regard to the performance of the car, we are well on track. I am certain the BMW Z4 GT3 will provide us with a lot more joy this season."

-source: bmw

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Series Endurance
Drivers Andy Priaulx , Colin Turkington , Mario Theissen