BMW commits to 2010 ALMS
|By Simon Strang
||Friday, September 25th 2009, 15:30 GMT
BMW Motorsport has confirmed it will continue in the American Le Mans Series in 2010 with Rahal Letterman Racing.
Following BMW's withdrawal from Formula 1, the manufacturer has recommitted to its sportscar programme and the team will again field two M3 GTRs in the new amalgamated GT class in 2010.
"I think if you look at the grid it is extremely compelling," said BMW Motorsport's US chief Martin Berkmann. "The GT class allows manufacturers to produce cars that are in philosophy and engineering layout very similar to the street cars we are selling.
"This year has been tremendous in terms of development of the new competitors. For us racing is something we like to do against others. We have a lot of respect for our competition but we also enjoy tremendously challenging them."
Rahal Letterman team owner Bobby Rahal admitted that BMW's decision to commit to the ALMS programme was a relief after it terminated its F1 involvement.
"Despite the economy BMW has stayed true to [ALMS] which speaks volumes for their commitment to the series," he said. "It's great news for us that we will be back again. It has been a year that we have had difficulties, but we were always going to have those in the first year of a car.
"But we have had successes as well and that encourages us for the future as we make the car better and better with each race."
Rahal added that he hoped, now that BMW had realigned its motorsport priorities, his GT programme might see some benefits from the company's departure from F1.
"Almost immediately on the heels of the announcement that they were leaving F1, BMW reconfirmed that they would continue in touring cars and ALMS," he said.
"I think perhaps, it's conjecture on my part, because of the withdrawal from F1 there is now some resource that might become available to everybody else - the rest of the BMW programmes."
Rahal believes that the M3 GTR, having scored a one-two victory at Road America in August, is improving all the time and is still near the beginning of its development curve.
"I think there is no question everybody has worked very hard all year," he said. "Particularly the last four or five months, things have come together and there is a lot more knowledge about the car.
"It's not like one element is carrying the load right now. We are not there yet, we still have room to go. We have got to make the reliability better, the team needs to evolve. I am very pleased with how the team has worked but we can do better. We have to continue that, we have got the likes of Corvette in there now and nobody else is sitting still.
BMW also confirmed that it will take its #92 machine, driven by Tommy Milner and Dirk Muller, to the Asian Le Mans Series at Okayama at the end of October.