BMW is to expand its GT racing program for 2010 and is hoping to race at the Le Mans 24 Hours as well as in the Le Mans Series.
As part of the reorganization of its factory motorsport projects, former works World Touring Car team Schnitzer will run the GT2 BMW M3 in the LMS and the Nurburgring-based VLN Endurance series, as well as at the 24-hour races at Le Mans, Spa and the Nurburgring.
The company is optimistic that the M3 will be approved by Le Mans organizer the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, allowing BMW to return to Le Mans in a factory capacity for the first time since it won the 1999 24 Hours with its last LMP1 car.
"BMW Motorsport is currently in positive discussions with organizers and governing bodies regarding the approval of the car," said a BMW statement.
Jorg Muller and Dirk Werner will be Schnitzer's regular drivers for the GT program. Muller moves across from BMW's factory WTCC team, while Werner joins from Porsche's GT squad. WTCC drivers Augusto Farfus and Andy Priaulx will also make GT appearances, with former DTM racer Uwe Alzen and VLN regular Dirk Adorf joining the team for the Nurburgring 24 Hours.
Its factory American Le Mans Series GT program with Rahal Letterman Racing will also continue through 2010. RLR gave the new GT2 M3 its racing debut this year, and took the car's first class win in the Road America round.
In addition to its GT2 expansion, BMW will make a version of the Z4 available for customer teams to use in GT3 series. Although the company will no longer be involved in Formula 1, BMW motorsport chief Mario Theissen believes its increased sports car presence will provide a suitable showcase for its cars.
"I am pleased that we are able to offer our fans an attractive motorsports program in the first year since our withdrawal from Formula 1," he said. "In production car racing, BMW has enjoyed countless triumphs throughout the course of its long racing history – whether with close-to-production touring cars or imposing GT sports cars. We want to follow on from this success in 2010, in both the World Touring Car Championship and the ALMS. In addition, our program will include works entries at 24-hour classics for the first time since 2005.
"Furthermore, we will also expand our customer racing program, and will be offering a new car in the form of a BMW Z4 that complies with GT3 regulations. In general, we are well positioned to demonstrate the performance of our cars to our customers around the world in 2010."