Andy Priaulx heads up BMW ELMS assault with Marc VDS

Andy Priaulx will head up a BMW factory assault on the European Le Mans Series next season with the Marc VDS squad

Andy Priaulx heads up BMW ELMS assault with Marc VDS

The three-time World Touring Car champion is moving over from the the German manufacturer's Tudor United SportsCar Championship campaign to race a solo works BMW Z4 GTE in the five-round ELMS with the Belgian Marc VDS squad.

Priaulx said: "I always embrace a new challenge and am proud to be heading up BMW's works team in this exciting series.

"Although I know all of the circuits on the calendar, it will not make things any easier as I know there is some fierce competition out there.

"I am, however, confident that the BMW Z4 GTE is more than up to the challenge."

Priaulx's team-mates, which must include one silver-rated driver, have yet to be announced.

Marc VDS takes on the ELMS programme after representing BMW with GT3-spec Z4s in last year's Nurburgring and Spa 24-hour classics and then making a winning assault on the GTC class of the series at this year's Estoril finale.

Team owner Marc van der Straten said: "I'm really pleased to take a new step with BMW Motorsport: we've worked strong with them in the past few years and it was only natural that we moved our relationship forwards - to have BMWs top GT car racing under our name is a real honour."

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will again mastermind BMW's North American programme in the GT Le Mans class of the USC, despite the German manufacturer inviting approaches from other teams.

Lucas Luhr, who joined BMW this year for assault on the Nurburgring 24 Hours and subsequently the Spa enduro, has been given a full-time seat in the USC driver line-up.

Former BMW DTM driver Dirk Werner, who raced in the USC enduros last year, comes into the full-time line-up, while Bill Auberlen and John Edwards retain their spots with BMW Team RLL.

The four regulars will be joined by BMW DTM drivers Bruno Spengler and Augusto Farfus Jr and Graham Rahal and Jens Klingmann for the season-opening Daytona 24 Hours next month.

Dirk Muller, who won the 2011 American Le Mans Series GT title with the marque, will race in the Nurburgring 24 Hours as part of a roster of drivers than includes long-time BMW driver Jorg Muller and Alexander Sims.

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