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PressClub South Africa · Article.

Andreas Roos: “The BMW brand made a massive impression on me already at a young age”.

Andreas Roos (GER), the new Head of BMW M Motorsport, moved into the top role for BMW M GmbH motorsport activities a few weeks ago. In a wide-ranging interview, he talks about his first weeks in the new job, his motorsport career so far, his early interest in the BMW brand and the focus of his work. Other topics include the LMDh project for BMW M, the debut season for the new BMW M4 GT3 and the extensive vehicle portfolio at BMW M Motorsport.

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Munich. Andreas Roos (GER), the new Head of BMW M Motorsport, moved into the top role for BMW M GmbH motorsport activities a few weeks ago. In a wide-ranging interview, the 45-year-old talks about his first weeks in the new job, his motorsport career so far, his early interest in the BMW brand and the focus of his work. Other topics include the LMDh project for BMW M, the debut season for the new BMW M4 GT3 and the extensive vehicle portfolio at BMW M Motorsport.


Interview with Andreas Roos.


How have you settled in during your first weeks at BMW M Motorsport?


Andreas Roos: “The first weeks were really intense, but also very nice. I have been received warmly by the whole team and there has been plenty of advice and support for me. Working together in this way really is a huge amount of fun; the motorsport spirit is everywhere. I am delighted and things could not be better.”


What have you been focusing on?


Roos: “My focus during the first weeks has been on settling in and getting to know the people. I have moved from another major car manufacturer, so there are a lot of similarities. On the other hand, each manufacturer naturally has its own specialities. That is why the initial main task has been on getting to know the people and the team, and then to get into the work at hand and to understand where we are right now.”


From your perspective, what are the most important tasks as Head of BMW M Motorsport?


Roos: “Creating the environment and the working conditions for the team, so that the performance can really be delivered on the circuit. The team needs to be formed so that the people can do their work and can perform by being in the right environment. I think that is my work, checking that the environment is right and that this can then produce the best racing cars.”


How would you describe your way of working and your management style?


Roos: “I like to be in an environment that fosters open and honest cooperation. Of course, part of me is a person that needs things to be harmonious, but it is also clear that you sometimes have to make decisions that are going to see you tread on someone’s toes. However, in general I understand that we look one another in the eye and say, ‘we make the decisions together’. That is the most important aspect. I think that when you work together in a team and take all that expertise from the individual people, put it all together as the basis for decisions, then that will generate the best result in the end.”


Why did you decide to move to BMW M Motorsport?


Roos: “That is actually pretty simple, because BMW is a great brand that has superb products and builds superb cars. It also has something else that is important to me, a huge history in motorsport. The brand has been so successful in the past and now I would like to be part of that success and join BMW on this path. In all honesty, I have to say that my interest in motorsport began back with the old DTM, when BMW was competing with the E30 M3 and that made a massive impression on me, so much so that, even though I worked for another manufacturer for many years, I always kept a bit of an eye on BMW to see what great stuff they were doing. A lot of people are saying that I’m now where I belong.”


What is your anticipated schedule for the LMDh project development phase?


Roos: “The development phase in the LMDh project – and we have to be open about this – is tense. It’s a tight schedule and our clearly stated objective is to be racing at Daytona in 2023. And we don’t just want to make an appearance, we want to be competitive. That means that we still have a few problems to solve together with our partner Dallara. After an intensive development phase, we now also have an intensive development programme on the racetrack to really probe and test the car. That means that we have some really busy days to look forward to, which will demand everything from our drivers, from our team, from BMW M Motorsport and from Dallara. However, you do notice that the spirit is there. Everyone is absolutely motivated and looking forward to the first rollout for the race car, and then of course to the first racing appearance.”


How challenging is LMDh with regard to the tight schedule, compared to some rivals and the fact that other manufacturers are having major problems?


Roos: “As I mentioned earlier, our schedule is very tight. Perhaps also because the decision to actually join the LMDh class was made relatively late. It is definitely a challenge. Of course, we would all prefer to have a bit more time, if I’m being absolutely honest, but we don’t have that luxury and we are working flat out. We have already noticed that one or two manufacturers may be having issues. Of course, I hope that they won’t overtake us. It’s clear that our planning does not allow for any errors before the first race. We can also be realistic about this. Things normally don’t always go smoothly and so one or two things will still come along. But, like I said, the team is highly motivated, that will work. Of course, there are some manufacturers that have gone one step further and have started on-track testing, for example. We simply have to catch up with that. However, our highly motivated people, our team, give me reason to be positive.”


What is the objective for the first LMDh season in 2023?


Roos: “We also have to be realistic here. There are plenty of good manufacturers competing, all of whom have shown in the past that they can develop racing cars. Our aspiration at BMW is also quite clear, we don't want to just be making up the numbers, we want to win races. However, it would be presumptuous to assert that we are so good that we can beat everyone right away, and that no-one else has a chance. Our aim is clearly to be challenging for wins and to be up at the front. A race season is long and hopefully we will have a say in the championship battle at the end of the year. But, of course, there are no guarantees in such a tough and hotly contested field.”


The BMW M4 GT3 has not been able to display the full extent of its great potential in its first races. Is that normal for a new race car?


Roos: “It is only natural that many people hope everything will be great when you build a new car. Everything is a totally new development, and it all has to work perfectly. But you also have to say that not everything has gone smoothly in the first races. Some problems have occurred that we had not been there before during the development phase, but that is simply the difference between racing and testing. However, we analysed and understood everything, and it shouldn’t happen anymore. You could see the change in Sebring; the pace is there, the car is producing a good performance and we were battling away at the front. This is added by the first win at the 12 hours Mugello. That is what we are building on now.”


What are your expectations of the car during its debut season – and in the years to follow?


Roos: “I have to say quite clearly, that the BMW M4 GT3 represents a great development from the preceding GT products from BMW M. Of course, there has been extensive focus on achieving significant improvements to performance, driveability, handling, and the handling for the teams. I believe that the first appearances have shown that already. The feedback from customer teams which have already competed in races with the car is very positive. I believe that we have taken a big step forward, and that is the future of course. Customer racing is clearly a mainstay of BMW M Motorsport, and we aim to continue to serve this in the future. To do that, you also need the right product, but we are convinced that we do. Enquiries and initial feedback from customer teams show us that we have taken a good step forward here in the right direction.”


What is your general assessment of the BMW M Motorsport setup for the next few years with LMDh, GT3, GT4 and M2 CS Racing?


Roos: “As far as I am concerned, the BMW M Motorsport programme boasts a perfect setup and portfolio. Starting with the BMW M2 CS Racing, which is real club racing, we move from the one-make cup subject to the next level, the GT4. This is a very, very popular car and has already recorded a large number of successes. We are currently working on development of its successor. That is classic customer racing. We then continue with the GT3, which also represents the transition from classic customer racing to works-supported customer racing, where works drivers appear in competition. However, we can only offer work-supported customer racing if we also have a works programme. That pinnacle for us is LMDh, where we have committed to competing with a works programme. This combination of all the possibilities that we have is the perfect combination.”


Why are you so passionate about motorsport?


Roos: “In fact, I come from a family of chemists, which has nothing at all to do with motorsport on a professional level. However, my father understood a lot of the technical aspects and he was always interested in cars. From day one, he was also a BMW driver through and through. He was the one who gave me the bug, and I was interested in motorsport from a very young age. As a small child, I spent many hours in front of the television, watching motor racing. I remember it well. Even back then, at the end of the 1980s and the start of the 1990s, it was clear in my mind that I would like to be involved in motorsport sometime. And I would most liked to have been a race engineer in the DTM. At one point I did achieve that, and now I am happy that I am able to work at BMW M and can continue my involvement in motorsport here.”


How has your career developed thus far?


Roos: “I have enjoyed a variety of career phases during the many years that I have already spent in motorsport. As a small child, I spent a lot of time at the racetrack thanks to friends of my parents who were involved in motor racing. When I was young, I was cleaning rims and washing tyres. When it became clear that I wanted to study mechanical engineering after leaving school and was looking towards motorsport, I already started thinking about working in motorsport in parallel to my studies. I tried to spend every free minute in motorsport while I was studying. That was when I had my first professional contact within the DTM. After that, I worked for teams for years and learned about motorsport from the bottom up. Whether it was washing tyres or working as a mechanic, data engineer, vehicle engineer or technical director, I was involved in every position for the teams. Then I had the chance to move to the Audi LMP1 programme to compete in the World Sportscar Championship, which was just fantastic. Throughout the years, I have been able to experience a host of jobs and various classes in motor racing. This has allowed me to amass truly comprehensive knowledge of motorsport, which of course helps me to see the big picture as Head of BMW M Motorsport.”


Which race event are you looking forward to the most this season?


Roos: “In all honesty, I actually look forward to every event. Each race has its own particular character. Each race has specific challenges. Of course, there are a few races that are real highlights. The 12 Hours of Sebring is certainly a highlight, it’s something you need to have experienced as a real motorsport fan. And that of course also applies to the Nürbürgring 24-hour race. But DTM races and the GT World Challenge are highlights, too. I believe that virtually all of the events that we race and compete in as BMW M are highlights for us. That’s because these are also the races and series that we choose, that we want to appear in, and I believe that every race and every championship has its own character and its own challenges. In the end, it is generally a superb task for BMW M to participate.”


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