The focus is on GT and touring car drivers of at least 18 years of age and in possession of a licence to race on the iconic Nürburgring-Nordschleife. This licence is important, as outings in the BMW M235i Racing Cup class of the VLN Endurance Championship will form an integral part of the comprehensive training programme. At three races, the VLN provides participants with a prominent stage, on which to gain experience at the wheel of the newly-developed, entry-level BMW M235i Racing, in a professional team, and on the demanding Nürburgring-Nordschleife. As well as starts in the VLN, test drives in Formula BMW FB02 racing cars and intensive theory courses dealing with fitness and PR are planned, as are mental and simulator training.
“This allows us to underline our focus on production-based motor racing and to shift our traditional promotion of junior drivers to the field of GT and touring car racing,“ said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “In single-seater racing our concept has borne fruit for decades through Formula BMW and the Formula BMW Talent Cup, paving the way for successful motor racing careers for drivers like Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hülkenberg. The tradition of supporting young touring car drivers stretches back as far as the 1970s, when the BMW Junior Team made a name for itself.”
Marquardt added: “We revive this link to production-based motor racing. It fits in very well with our current motorsport programme. In the BMW M235i Racing we have the perfect entry-level model in our range, while the BMW M235i Racing Cup class offers an ideal platform. Our long-term goal is to see one of our own juniors join the squad of BMW works drivers racing in the GT3 field.”
Once they have gained initial valuable experience in GT and touring car racing, BMW Motorsport intends to cautiously promote the most impressive youngsters into higher classes. In their second and third season, the strongest participants would ideally be ready to test themselves against the opposition in an international GT3 class. These three building blocks are flanked by unique opportunities for the participants to familiarise themselves with aspects of the current BMW Motorsport racing programme: from tests in the BMW M6 GT3 and BMW M6 GTLM to “tasters” in the BMW M4 DTM.
“A glance into the past shows that you need patience in order to sustainably run a junior programme,” Marquardt added. “With this in mind, we are happy to have the BMW Motorsport Junior Programme. I am confident that our new approach will provide opportunities to introduce exciting young drivers to high-class GT and touring car racing in years to come.”