BMW drops RBM as factory team, confirms Schnitzer split

The Belgian RBM team that guided Andy Priaulx to a hat-trick of World Touring Car Championship titles has been released by BMW for next season

BMW drops RBM as factory team, confirms Schnitzer split

The departure of the squad that represented BMW in the DTM in 2012-20 from the manufacturer's roster was confirmed alongside that of the Le Mans 24 Hours-winning Schnitzer team on Friday.

Neither team has been given a factory programme for 2021 on the reduction of BMW's motorsport involvement, following the end of the Class 1 touring car era in the DTM and championship's switch to GT3 rules for next season.

A statement from BMW said that "the collaboration with BMW Team RBM is ending, as there is no longer a classic works involvement in the new, customer racing-based DTM".

RBM boss Bart Mampaey said: "It is a great shame, but we respect the fact that BMW Motorsport is unable to continue the collaboration with us as a works team.

"I would like to thank BMW for the fantastic partnership, which we have enjoyed for 25 long years: BMW has always been at our side, from the very beginning to the final curtain in the DTM, and our relationship will remain a strong one, even if we are no longer a works team.

"Times are changing and we are all facing a challenging future."

RMG, BMW's second DTM team, will move into a new role developing the marque's new M4 GT3 car, which is expected to begin racing in 2021 ahead of its full homologation and release to customers in 2022.

Schnitzer had been involved in the development of the new GT4 car this year, but the BMW communique said that "the necessary realignment of the works-based team structure also means that the partnership with BMW Team Schnitzer will not be continued".

But it made no no reference to whether BMW intends to have a presence in the new-look DTM next season.

The departure of RBM and RMG's new role suggests that there will be no factory-supported BMW M6 GT3s in the series in 2021.

Former BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt stated before his departure that it didn't make sense for it to compete with the M6, a car that has been superseded in the marque's model range.

There was also no mention of BMW's plans for the Intercontinental GT Challenge, in which it has been represented this year by the quasi-factory Walkenhorst team, nor those for the IMSA SportsCar Championship with the Rahal squad.

Mampaey revealed that he is aiming to continue the team in the long-term, although he has admitted that he has already let half of his 30-strong staff go.

"We want to continue in motor racing and see what options arise, but I also think that we can apply the values and skills that we have at RBM in other industries outside motorsport," he said.

Racing Bart Mampaey was founded in the mid-1990s by Mampaey, whose father Julian ran the JUMA team that won the Spa 24 Hours in 1977, '82 and '83 out of the family BMW dealership.

RBM built the cars for the BMW Compact Cup one-make series in Belgium and subsequently achieved success in the 24 Hours at Spa with the marque.

It won the Group N class in 1997 and then claimed overall victory the following season with Eric van de Poele, Marc Duez and Alain Cudini.

The team returned to frontline competition after a brief hiatus with an assault on the European Touring Car Championship in 2002, running as BMW Team Sweden.

Priaulx joined the following season to race a car under the BMW Team Great Britain banner.

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After winning three races in their debut season together, RBM and Priaulx claimed the ETCC crown in 2004. They followed it up with a hat-trick of WTCC titles in 2005-07, with the team becoming a full-factory operation in 2006.

RBM was part of BMW's DTM line-up on its return to the series in 2012, taking a total of eight race victories over nine seasons.

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Series DTM
Author Gary Watkins
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