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Tough start for BMW DTM teams at Spa-Francorchamps.

After months of waiting, the wheels are turning again in the DTM. The first of the nine events that make up the 2020 season is taking place this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps. The season-opener at the iconic Belgian circuit has not been an easy one so far for the BMW DTM teams. In the Saturday race, Philipp Eng (AUT, ZF BMW M4 DTM) was the best-placed BMW driver in sixth.

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Spa-Francorchamps. After months of waiting, the wheels are turning again in the DTM. The first of the nine events that make up the 2020 season is taking place this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps. The season-opener at the iconic Belgian circuit has not been an easy one so far for the BMW DTM teams. In the Saturday race, Philipp Eng (AUT, ZF BMW M4 DTM) was the best-placed BMW driver in sixth.

In hot, summery conditions, Eng was joined in the points by Lucas Auer (AUT, BMW Bank M4 DTM), Timo Glock (GER, iQOO BMW M4 DTM) and newcomer Jonathan Aberdein (RSA, CATL BMW M4 DTM) in positions seven, eight and ten. Marco Wittmann (GER) missed out on the top-ten, finishing eleventh in the Schaeffler BMW M4 DTM. Sheldon van der Linde (RSA, Shell BMW M4 DTM) was particularly unlucky. Having qualified in fifth place as the best BMW driver in the morning, he was forced to return to the pits several times with a technical issue in the opening stages of the race. He was at least able to complete the race and crossed the finish line in 15th place. Victory went to Audi driver Nico Müller (SUI).

 

Reactions to the 1st DTM race of the 2020 season at Spa-Francorchamps.

 

Jens Marquardt (BMW Group Motorsport Director):

“First of all, it was nice to watch a DTM race live at the circuit again after such a long time. As we expected after the tests, tyre management across the full race distance was the big issue here. After a difficult qualifying, we tried to put what we had learned during the tests into practice. We saw with Philipp Eng and Lucas Auer that you can make progress in the race if you manage your tyres well. Unfortunately, not all the cars managed to do that. We must now take a very hard look and try to do better tomorrow. Congratulations to Nico Müller on a squeaky-clean race. Everyone behind him struggled with tyres. The key to success tomorrow will be getting a grip on this issue.”

 

Stefan Reinhold (BMW Team RMG Team Principal):

“Firstly, I would like to compliment my team on the end of the pre-season preparations. All in all, I think we did a good job. Unfortunately, we were lacking a bit of pace in qualifying. We must now find out why that was. We expected a drop in grip levels a little earlier in the race. The first stint went well. When the drop did come in the second stint, it was too late to come in and change the tyres. We have definitely learned a lot for tomorrow.”

 

Marco Wittmann (#11 Schaeffler BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RMG, Grid: 8th, Race: 11th, Drivers’ standings: 11th, 0 points):

“The result is obviously disappointing. The first stint went well and I was able to work my way past my BMW colleagues. The tyres also felt good. Unfortunately, nothing went right in the second stint. So soon after the race, I cannot say what that was down to. We must analyse what happened.”

 

Timo Glock (#16 BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RMG, Grid: 6th, Race: 8th, Driver’s standings: 9th, 4 points):

“It is a shame that the result is not better, as I actually felt good in the car. I really looked after my tyres in the first stint and was perhaps even a little too conservative. The second stint was also going well until I overtook Marco Wittmann. After that, I suddenly had no grip on the rear axle. We must now see why that was.”

 

Lucas Auer (#22 BMW Bank M4 DTM, BMW Team RMR, Grid: 9th , Race: 7th, Drivers’ standings: 7th, 6 points):

“I really enjoyed being back in a DTM car and at a race weekend. I am also very happy with my performance. After a two-year break and just two days of testing, finishing as the second-best BMW driver is a good result. I can also see that I still have a lot of room for improvement.”

 

Bart Mampaey (BMW Team RBM Team Principal):

“It was clear to us after the tests that the track is very aggressive on the tyres. On top of that, we also had extremely high temperatures today. As such, the challenge for the drivers was to manage the tyres in the race. Philipp Eng did that very well. He also used push-to-pass and DRS very cleverly. Unfortunately, we had a technical issue with Sheldon van der Linde. We repaired the car and sent him back out, despite being well behind, to allow him to learn as much as possible about the tyres. For Jonathan Aberdein, a top-ten finish on his debut in a BMW M4 DTM is a good result. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we will hopefully learn the right lessons and be closer to Audi.”

 

Philipp Eng (#25 ZF BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RBM, Grid: 10th, Race: 6th, Drivers’ standings: 6th, 8 points):

“When they shut the door on the grid, it was pure goosebumps. It is at moments like this that I know why I always wanted to be a racing driver. We discussed the race thoroughly in advance and prepared well. I would also like to thank Augusto Farfus, who gained valuable information regarding tyre management during the test. I did not quite find my rhythm in qualifying. That made us all the more determined to do well in the race and to pace ourselves well. We were the best BMW, but I obviously want to be the best out of everyone and for BMW to be out in front. We still have a bit of work ahead of us, but we’ll get there.”

 

Jonathan Aberdein (#27 CATL BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RMR, Grid: 13th, Race: 10th, Drivers’ standings: 10th, 1 points):

“On the whole, it was not an easy race for any of the BMW drivers. Audi was in a league of its own today. For me, personally, the race was okay – not particularly eventful. I was able to look after my tyres, particularly in the second stint. In the end, I managed to pick up a point in tenth place. Generally speaking that is not a bad start, but I obviously want to keep improving.”

 

Sheldon van der Linde (#31 Shell BMW M4 DTM, BMW Team RBM, Grid: 5th, Race: 15th, Drivers’ standings: 15th, 0 points):

“I was very happy with my qualifying. I think I got the maximum out of the car. My start was also very good, but I suddenly had no power exiting Eau Rouge on lap two and had to come into the pits. We solved the problem and at least managed to gain some valuable experience with the tyres. That was the best we could hope for from this race.”

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