Photo: BMW Motorsport

BMW complete successful Young Driver Test at Jerez

BMW Motorsport have completed their Young Driver Test at the Jerez circuit, where one of those who took part could end up at the manufacturer in next year’s DTM. The drivers selected were Mikkel Jensen, Nicky Catsburg, Nick Yelloly and Sheldon van der Linde. The Bavarian manufacturer also took the opportunity to continue the on-track development of the new Class One M4 DTM.

The drivers took turns at the wheel of the M4 DTM which was used by Timo Glock this year, with Austrian Philipp Eng, who completed his DTM rookie season this year, acting as a reference.

Catsburg, who drives for BMW in the World Endurance Championship, and is not in likely contention for a seat due to his clashing commitments with Hyundai in the World Touring Car Cup, said: “The big difference to the BMW M8 GTE and the BMW M6 GT3 I usually drive is the high-speed cornering. 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 a very cool car to drive.”

Jensen, who is in his second year as a DTM junior, said: “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. 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.”

Yelloly drove a BMW M6 GT3 for Rowe Racing in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup this season, was equally impressed by the M4 DTM: “Considering the weight of the car, the high-speed in the corners is really fantastic. As I have driven high downforce cars before I knew what to expect but the BMW M4 DTM still impressed me a lot.“

Van der Linde found adapting to the car difficult at the start, and was also amazed at the DTM car’s downforce: “It was an amazing experience. It’s so different to what I am used to. I have only driven in GT3 before so it was a really big step in the beginning, but the engineers and everyone helped me a lot and Philipp also gave quite a few tips. What I liked most about the BMW M4 DTM is the downforce. It’s incredible and the speed you can enter the corners with is amazing.”

BMW is expected to announce their sixth driver for the 2019 DTM season shortly, having already confirmed five of their returning drivers, two-time champion Marco Wittmann, 2012 champion Bruno Spengler, Timo Glock, Joel Eriksson and Eng. The sixth spot is available following Augusto Farfus’ departure to race for Hyundai in the WTCR.

BMW also took one of their new Class One M4 DTMs to Jerez, with the new two-litre turbo engine. Wittmann and Spengler alternated at the wheel to continue the development of the new car.

“Our job at the tests was to make progress with the development of the new car. One focus was on the new turbo engine: it is important to understand this better, and to fine tune it, from test to test,” said Wittmann. “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.”

““We are progressing well with our work on the BMW M4 DTM for the coming season. The conditions have been consistent, we completed a lot of laps, and made good progress through our planned programme,” added Spengler.