Speak with BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt for even a moment and his passion for racing will be palpable. So, too, his expertise: After earning a degree in aerospace engineering, Marquardt went to work for Ilmor Engineering in 1996, developing Formula One and CART engines. He joined Toyota’s racing engine department in 2000, then became the Japanese company’s F1 team manager in 2008. He remained with Toyota after its exit from F1 in 2009, but in 2011 moved to BMW, replacing Dr. Mario Theissen as Motorsport Director. Since then, he’s guided BMW back to DTM racing, where the marque made an astonishing sweep of all three titles—driver, team and manufacturer—in its debut season. In the two seasons hence, BMW has taken three more titles, a remarkable record.
Marquardt’s tenure has also seen BMW race with considerable success in endurance series like Europe’s VLN and the World Endurance Championship. The marque continues to compete in the U.S.’s premiere sports car series, the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship, and to support privateers in Continental Challenge.
We met with Marquardt at Daytona International Speedway in January as both of those series got underway for 2015, to talk about the synergies between BMW’s production cars and its racers, including the new M6 GT3 that should hit tracks in 2016…quite possibly with a roadgoing counterpart inspired by racing, just like the E9 CSL of 40 years ago.
Bimmer: How would you explain racing’s role within the BMW organization, generally?
Jens Marquardt: Obviously, racing is historically part of our activity from day one. The first cars we produced went straight into competition. Being the most dynamic of the premium brands, racing is also something that’s in our DNA. Having a racing program really suits us well.
As a marketing platform, especially with what we’re doing now, racing with cars that are close to our product lineup shows in a competitive environment the expertise we have, the engineering craft that we put into our product on the race track as well as in the road car products. It’s a competitive environment where you really face your competition on a measurable level. I think it’s complementary, and it’s really a part of showcasing the products we have on a different platform.
Bimmer: With respect to the DTM, that would seem to be less the case given how many parts—like the monocoque—are specified. You really only have control over engines and certain setup aspects. How does that function in an engineering sense?