BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt has given high praise to the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, stating that the series has “the best” endurance races in the world.
The German manufacturer, which enters the globe-trotting championship for the first time this year, is set for a two-car full-season effort between Team Schnitzer and Walkenhorst-entered BMW M6 GT3s.
BMW’s arrival coincides with IGTC’s expansion to five rounds in the addition of the Kyalami 9 Hours.
“It’s the places you want to go with a GT3 car,” Marquardt told Sportscar365. “It’s really the best endurance races you can think of.
“I think the example of Bathurst is a good one. If you take the last five years of Bathurst, it’s continually growing. We’ve been there a few times and now for us…
“Stephane [Ratel] and his guys have really done a good job in putting that together.”
Marquardt said the championship, now in its fourth year, has always been on the radar but Ratel’s concept of utilizing local teams for each event, at least for BMW, was unfeasible.
Instead, a concerted effort was made for 2019, which included moving its Blancpain GT resources over to IGTC.
“We’ve always wanted to but you have to find the teams,” he said.
“We tried once with having a local team for every event, which was the initial idea, but we couldn’t get the whole thing to run.
“Then finally at the end of last year we went, ‘Look, for us this is the way to go. We want to do it and we’re going to do it. with two teams running one car each throughout.’
“That’s how we ended up with Walkenhorst and Schnitzer.”
Additional local teams could join the two season-long entries at events such as the Total 24 Hours of Spa, although Marquardt said it remains undetermined.
He’s given high marks to the IGTC schedule, which allows teams to easily complete the season in a cost-effective method.
“Number-wise and calendar-wise, I think it’s quite OK,” Marquardt said. “You can really do it fairly efficiently with sea freight and everything.
“Once you start flying things around it adds a lot of costs to the thing.
“You don’t want logistics to take over them majority of the costs. In that respect, I think it’s a fairly good setup.”
BMW Racing in Honor of Lamm in Bathurst
Marquardt said BMW will be racing in honor of Charly Lamm this weekend, in the first race for Team Schnitzer since their longtime team principal’s sudden passing.
Lamm, who retired from his team duties at the end of last year, died last week at the age of 63.
“Obviously this week is going to be really difficult with Schnitzer,” Marquardt said.
“I think at the end of the day, Charly would want us to go and he would have wanted us to do the best we can. And that’s what we’re going to do.
“I watched on the [Bathurst] stream last year with him down there. I still get goosebumps.
“The [commentators] weren’t talking about BMW; they were talking about Schnitzer and Charly Lamm throughout the race.
“That’s the legend he is. That’s the meaning he has for the sport and for BMW. It’s our job to honor that.”