BMW Motorsport has confirmed that they will not commit a works-backed entry in the 2011 World Touring Car Championship season, but that it will offer a customer support programme to supply 1.6-litre turbocharged models to any clients wishing to compete.
The announcements leaves Chevrolet as the only ‘works’ entrant in next year’s championship, following SEAT’s withdrawal as a factory outfit at the end of last season (although its ex-works team still continues to run several SEATs this season).
“The BMW 320 TC, powered by the newly-developed 1.6-litre four-cylinder (DI-)turbo engine, will expand our Customer Racing offering, and be entered in the World Touring Car Championship by private teams,” outgoing BMW motorsport boss Dr Mario Thiessen announced.
BMW’s ongoing involvement in the WTCC has been the subject of much speculation in the last few months, in the wake of its recent announcement that it will join the DTM series from 2012 onwards.
The marque – which won the first three WTCC titles with Andy Priaulx since the series reformed in 2005 – has expressed frustration at the running of the series’ attempts to achieve parity between it, the normally aspirated Chevrolets and the turbodieseled SEATs. Furthermore, it’s frustrations won’t have been tempered when its works cars were disqualified from the Okayama round (effectively killing its 2010 championship aspirations) for running a non-homologated gearbox originally approved by the event’s race stewards.
The works pairing of Priaulx and team-mate Augusto Farfus will focus on BMW’s GT effort in 2011, with the M3 GT2 set to contest the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series in 2011.
[Original images via FIA WTCC official site]