BMW has moved closer to returning to the DTM after an absence of two decades, but it will not join up until 2012 at the earliest.
The German manufacturer has announced that it is beginning work on a DTM car with a view to entering the championship in two years' time provided "certain basic requirements" proposed by its board are met by DTM organizer ITR.
"The planned return to the DTM is an exciting challenge for our team," said BMW motorsport boss Mario Theissen. "Over the coming months we will be making all the necessary technical preparations that should allow us to be competitive right from the start should we join the series in 2012."
BMW last raced in the DTM in 1992. It is restructuring its motorsport programs in the wake of its Formula 1 pullout last year. This season, the company is racing primarily in GT racing and the World Touring Car Championship. It has confirmed that the M3 GT2 will continue racing through 2011 at least, but has yet to decide its long-term future in the WTCC, although it is working on a replacement for its current S2000 touring car.
"For 2011, BMW is developing a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine with direct injection that can be used in championships in accordance with the new Super2000 regulations – such as the FIA World Touring Car Championship," said a BMW statement. "A new racing car is being developed as a successor to the current BMW 320si for the coming years. How the BMW involvement in the World Touring Car Championship will look beyond the 2010 season will be decided over the course of the year."
BMW has been involved in the shaping of the next generation DTM technical regulations since August last year, when it formed a Technical Working Group with Audi and Mercedes to come up with the specs of the car. Germany's governing body, the DMSB, is reportedly eager for the new regulations to be introduced for 2011.