BMW pulls plug on prototypes for 2001

BMW is stepping up its assault on the GT class of the American Le Mans Series after pulling the plug on its prototype programme.

BMW pulls plug on prototypes for 2001

The German manufacturer confirmed that its ultra-successful V12 LMR will not race beyond the end of this season. Instead, it will "intensify its involvement with the new M3".

Dr Mario Thiessen, joint motorsport boss with Gerhard Berger, refused to speculate if that would mean Schnitzer, which won Le Mans for BMW in 1999, would run a squad of M3s in America or the new European Le Mans Series next year.

"This means that we want to get ahead of Porsche [the pace-setter in the "baby" class of the ALMS]. How we do that hasn't been decided," he said. "We will take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the car and then decide what to do."

Thiessen explained that this process would involve Schnitzer, as well as Prototype Technology which runs a factory-backed M3 programme this year. More input from BMW's Munich competition department was likely, he said.

BMW also moved to quell rumours that it will enter the revived DTM touring car series next year. Thiessen dismissed speculation that Schnitzer could build a DTM chassis in time for an entry midway through 2001.

BMW's desire to return to front-line tin-top competition "in the medium term" was reiterated. "We are looking at everything including the BTCC," said Thiessen.

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