BMW Motorsport has firmed up five of its six seats for the 2020 DTM.
The German manufacturer yesterday confirmed that 2012 champion Bruno Spengler, who spearheaded the Munich marque’s successful return to DTM, has brought the curtain down on a hugely successful 15-year DTM campaign by moving to BMW’s North American IMSA programme for 2020.
In his place, Austrian Lucas Auer will join the six-driver squad, alongside the retained line-up of two-time champion Marco Wittmann, Philipp Eng, Timo Glock and Sheldon van der Linde, the young South African who impressed hugely this year in his rookie season.
Auer raced successfully in the DTM for four seasons between 2015-’18, winning four races, and emerging as a credible title contender during the first half of the 2017 season. The Austrian’s arrival also triggers the departure of Sweden’s Joel Ericsson, who spent two years racing for BMW in the DTM, most memorably winning the rain-lashed second race at Misano, Italy, in 2018. He is set to continue with BMW in its GT programme.
“Very few drivers have had as big an influence on the DTM as Bruno,” said BMW Group Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “In winning the title in 2012, he achieved something that nobody believed possible at the time. And he earned a permanent place in the history of BMW Motorsport.”
Spengler added: “I had a fantastic time 15 years in the DTM – almost half of my life! My title win in 2012 will forever be very linked to Charly Lamm. I really feel at home in the BMW family, and think I’ll quickly find my feet in the IMSA series. As a Canadian, it will be a highlight to line up at a genuine home race – Mosport Park – next summer.”
Lucas Auer said: “I’m really excited to be returning to the DTM, with BMW. I learned a lot racing in Japan this year, and I’m counting down the days until I get into the M4 DTM for the first time. The key now will be to adapt quickly to the DTM again – but I’m not worried about that.”
ITR managing director Achim Kostron added: “Bruno is one of the most popular and successful DTM drivers of all time. His career is a hugely impressive achievement, and he’s also an extremely personable character – respectful in defeat, modest in victory, of which there were plenty. On behalf of the whole DTM family, I wish Bruno all the best in the IMSA series. He will always be welcome in the DTM paddock any time he wishes.”
One BMW seat remains to be filled – leading to speculation that Polish superstar Robert Kubica could be in contention for the drive after testing with the squad at Jerez earlier in December.
The manufacturer is likely to confirm the identity of its sixth driver in the new year.
Philipp Eng & Lucas Auer