BMW Australia boss, Marc Werner, confirmed that his brand was approached by numerous V8 supercar teams to provide the foundations for a new entry in the 2017 season but the decision was instead made in favour of entering the GT championship from next year.
“We had initial discussions with a few opportunities that came up during the year.” Werner said.
“However, when we saw what was coming out of Europe, with this global approach for GT customer racing… we said this was the best fit for BMW Australia going forward. That’s why we ruled out any other sports engagement and truly believe that this is the best way forward.”
BMW has had historical success in touring car championships both internationally and locally, however the brand is adamant that its entry into the GT championship is about customer racing, not ‘one manufacturer racing another’.
“We believe that GT racing is a rising sport in Australia and we want to offer something for our customers. For us, that is the main benefit of engaging the Australian GT racing.”
Although an entry into V8 supercars is ruled out for now, Werner hinted that things might change in the future.
“We want to start with GT customer racing first and everything else remains to be seen. Starting or coming back in the Australian motorsport arena, GT racing is the best fit for us and we want to be successful in that so we are starting in 2016.”
The 2017 Supercar championship will allow the introduction of different body styles and engine configurations in the hope of revitalising the series and enticing more manufacturers to enter.
In regards to other, higher categories of racing, such as the currently Mercedes-AMG dominated Formula 1 and World Endurance Championship, Werner doesn’t believe BMW’s absence is a cause for concern.
“No necessarily.” Werner said when asked by CarAdvice if BMW was at a disadvantage for being out of top-category racing championships.
“I think we’ve shown that with our BMW M cars we can build and manufacture very competitive cars when it comes to high performance vehicles and when it comes to customer engagement. [As far as we are] concerned, that’s actually why we entered GT championship.
We see that from our customer research [that] our customers actually want to get behind the wheel. It’s not necessarily sitting in front of the TV watching F1 races and we’ve seen the interest in Formula one has declined and I believe we are much better off providing this kind of fantastic oppurtunity to customer where we actually get them behind the wheel.”
BMW last teamed up with the Sauber F1 team from 2006 until its departure in 2009. The brand won one Formula One GP race and no constructor’s championships, though it did finish second in 2007.