BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt has been one of the driving forces behind BMW’s key success in Motorsport whether it’s the Spa 24 Hours, Formula E, DTM or the Rolex 24 Hours here in Daytona. At Daytona, BMW Motorsport and Motul announced a new partnership for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) programme, a perfect moment then to have a chat with the man himself.
Jens, a famous bon mot goes along the lines of “winning on Sunday, means selling on Monday” does this apply to BMW Motorsport?
I think that saying obviously needs some nuance but it’s very correct to say that motorsport and racing is in BMW’s DNA and especially when it comes to our BMW M division. Motorsport in general is very hard and competitive and we try to win every race we enter. That is naturally easier said than done but it is true that from a marketing and communications point of view it’s much more interesting to communicate about a winning team.
How important is this race for BMW Motorsport?
Daytona is a very important race for us as the US market is the biggest and strongest market for BMW M. It’s a great start to the season but also a difficult one. It’s the toughest race of the IMSA season and the fact that it’s the first one makes it even more interesting. Last year we won the race, so it goes without saying that our only goal is to repeat this. It’s important that in the first 22 hours, you can only lose the race because you win it in the last two.
BMW is or has been present in almost every form of motorsport, is it all at the benefit of development and future proofing the brand?
Well, each discipline has its own value for us. All of it is product related but the value and use of it is different. Our activity with this, the M8 GTLM car as well as our programmes with M4, M6 and M2, drive the marketing of the brand. It shows customers what a product derived from a road car can do while the road car can also be nice and comfortable for day to day use. In a different bubble we have our Formula E programme, this is clearly a development hub where we test and gather data to develop future products.
The BMW M8 GTE no longer races in Europe but the GTLM version does still race here, is there any difference between these two machines?
No, they’re exactly the same. Well almost. The IMSA uses a different ‘Balance of Performance’ (BOP) than the FIA WEC. Other than that, both platforms are identical.
The M8 racing programme is called Mission 8. What is the mission and how is it evolving?
Mission 8 was a mission we were given by the board two years ago as a part of the launch of the new BMW 8-Series. A car with no previous direct racing predecessor. It was a very bold move to start racing a version of a car that hadn’t even been launched, the M8. The idea of the mission was to give the car a racing heritage before it went on sale, in which we were successful. This year will be the third year we race the M8 and our mission will continue.
For the first time, the car has a few very nice bright red Motul stickers on it. How important is the partnership with Motul for BMW and BMW Motorsport?
For us it’s very important to team up with companies that share our DNA and Motul is the perfect example. We’re very happy that we carry the logo of a company that has a longstanding heritage in endurance racing. The partnership is still very young but I’m sure it will prove to be a very interesting ride for both companies and I’m sure some great things will come from it.