BMW to split with Schnitzer Motorsport after over 50 years

BMW will end its relationship with the Le Mans 24 Hours-winning Schnitzer Motorsport squad after more than 50 years

BMW to split with Schnitzer Motorsport after over 50 years

The German squad, whose successes with the Bavarian marque also include victory in the 1987 World Touring Car Championship and the 2012 DTM, will not be given a works programme by BMW for 2021, Autosport has learned.

The move follows a gradual downscaling of Schnitzer's activities with BMW Motorsport since it was dropped from the DTM line-up at the end of 2016, when the marque went down from four to two teams.

Its programme in 2020 encompassed an assault on the Nurbrugring 24 Hours with a line-up of factory drivers aboard an M6 GT3 and a role in the development of the forthcoming M4 GT3.

No statement was available from BMW and team boss Herbert Schnitzer told Autosport that he was unable to comment ahead of an official announcement.

The announcement from BMW is scheduled for this afternoon.

BMW is also expected to announce that RBM will also be leaving its roster for 2021 and that its other DTM team, RMG, will lead the development of the new GT3 car, which is expected to undertake some races later next year.

The departure of the Belgian RBM team and RMG's new role appear to confirm that BMW will have no involvement in the DTM next year when the series switches from Class 1 touring car to GT3 regulations.

The marque's plans for the IMSA SportsCar Championship are not expected to be part of the announcement.

BMW has only confirmed so far that the Rahal team will contest the season-opening Daytona 24 Hours in January with the M8 GTE.

It appears likely that BMW's involvement in the IMSA series will be limited to the four enduros at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta, as reported by Autosport last month.

BMW has already announced this week that it will be pulling out of Formula E at the end of next season, but could still supply partner team Andretti Autosport with powertrains.

PLUS: Why BMW and Audi have pulled the plug on Formula E

Bavarian-based Schnitzer was moved back into the GT arena after BMW reorganised its DTM assault for 2017.

It competed in the full ADAC GT Masters in Germany that year with a single factory M6 GT3, before expanding to two cars in 2018.

The team also contested the Nurburgring 24 Hours with the M6 in 2017-20 and the GT World Cup in Macau in 2017-19, winning the race with Augusto Farfus Jr in the middle of those three years.

Schnitzer also masterminded BMW's assault on the Intercontinental GT Challenge in 2019.

The team, established by brothers Josef and Herbert Schnitzer Sr, started competing with BMWs in the mid-1960s.

Schnitzer was at the vanguard of BMW's touring car campaigns from the early 1980s into the 1990s.

It won major domestic titles in Germany, Britain and Italy, as well as the European Touring Car Championship and the WTCC, under longtime team manager Charly Lamm (pictured above) who died in early 2019.

PLUS: The BMW game-changer that monopolised the tin-top world

The team masterminded BMW's assault on the FIA GT Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours with the longtail version of the McLaren F1 GTR in 1997 and the oversaw the German manufacturer's victory in the French enduro in 1999 with BMW V12 LMR prototype developed by Williams.

The team moved back to touring cars in the Super 2000 era before switching to the DTM on BMW's return to the series in 2012.

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Author Gary Watkins
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