BMW claims 22nd overall victory at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS wins home race – Three BMW Z4 GT3s in the top ten.

07.26.2015 – BMW has added another chapter to its success story at Spa-Francorchamps (BE): 50 years after its first win at the 24-hour classic, Nick Catsburg (NL), Lucas Luhr (DE) and Markus Palttala (FI) of BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS claimed the manufacturer’s 22nd overall victory at this race. After 536 laps of the “Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps”, the number 46 BMW Z4 GT3 recovered from a drive-through penalty to cross the finish line first at the end of the 67th running of the Ardennes marathon. Victory was a fitting farewell for the BMW Z4 GT3, which was making its final appearance at one of the most important endurance races in the world.

BMW’s maiden success at Spa-Francorchamps came exactly 50 years ago in 1965, when local heroes Pascal Ickx (BE) and Gérard Langlois (BE) won with a BMW 1800 TI/SA. The most recent win came courtesy of Alain Cudini (FR), Marc Duez (BE) and Eric van de Poele (BE) in a BMW 320i in 1998. In recent years, BMW drivers have landed on the podium with the BMW Z4 GT3 on several occasions: in 2011, Claudia Hürtgen (DE), Edward Sandström (SE) and BMW works driver Dirk Werner (DE) were runners-up for Schubert Motorsport. This was followed in 2012 by third place for Frank Kechele (DE), Greg Franchi (BE) and Mathias Lauda (AT) of the Vita4One Racing team. Last year, BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS missed out on victory by just 7.077 seconds in one of the closest finishes in the history of this classic race. After 527 laps of racing, Luhr, Palttala and Dirk Werner came home second in the number 77 BMW Z4 GT3 to claim the first podium for BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS at its home race in the Ardennes. The circuit is just 140 kilometres from the team headquarters in Gosselies (BE).

The second BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS car was very unlucky. The number 45 BMW Z4 GT3 held a comfortable lead for long stretches of the race. It looked destined for overall victory until a technical problem resulted in engine damage on lap 399, dashing any hopes of success at its home event. Right from the word go, Dirk Werner, Maxime Martin (BE) and Augusto Farfus (BR) had produced a dazzling display of driving. The many heavy showers that descended upon Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday made for extremely difficult conditions at the 7.004-kilometre circuit. Despite this, start driver Martin wasted little time in making up ground from his start position of tenth and was soon in touch with the leaders. He was then unable to avoid losing valuable time as the result of Safety Car periods. On lap 37, BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS was actually running first and second, until both cars came into the pits at the same time. The race calmed down a bit in the night. By dawn, Martin, Farfus and Werner held a lead of over 50 seconds over the rest of the field, until they were struck by the technical fault.

The remaining BMW teams also impressed with strong performances at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Three BMW Z4 GT3s ended the race in the top ten. Ecurie Ecosse, with drivers Alexander Sims (GB), Alasdair McCaig (GB), Devon Modell (GB) and Oliver Bryant (GB) produced a remarkable fightback. Sims started the race from 20th place in the number 79 car. By ten minutes into the race he had climbed to 12th. The team made it through the night unscathed, worked its way into the top ten, and was able to defend its position in the final third of the race. Ecurie Ecosse eventually finished seventh overall, which meant third place in the fiercely-competitive Pro-Am class. They were followed home one place back by Team Russia by Barwell, who also fought back brilliantly. Leonid Machitski (RU), Jon Minshaw (GB), Jonathan Cocker (GB) and Phil Keen (GB) started the Ardennes marathon from 30th place. A flawless race saw them climb 22 places to cross the finish line in eighth place.

Alessandro Zanardi (IT), Timo Glock (DE) and Bruno Spengler (CA) also produced an impressive display on their first outing together at a 24-hour race. Despite heavy rain, Spengler clocked the fastest time of the pre-race warm-up in the number 9 BMW Z4 GT3, which was fielded by ROAL Motorsport. During the night, the car was placed as high as fifth at times. Zanardi, Glock and Spengler were the focal point of a very special motorsport project at Spa-Francorchamps: this was the first time double amputee Zanardi had shared the cockpit with other drivers. The BMW Motorsport engineers had come up with innovative technical solutions to modify the BMW Z4 GT3 for this extraordinary first. With one hour of the race remaining, the trio was running in the top ten until Glock was forced to retire with a technical fault on lap 500.

BMW Sports Trophy Team Brazil completed the outstanding overall result for BMW at Spa-Francorchamps. The number 77 car, with Sergio Jimenez (BR), Felipe Fraga (BR) and Cacá Bueno (BR) sharing the driving duties, finished 13th. The 24-hour marathon came to a premature end for six BMW teams in total, including the number 45 BMW Z4 GT3 of BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS and the ROAL Motorsport car. The Boutsen/Ginion BMW Z4 GT3 retired during an eventful start phase. Late in the evening, Triple Eight Racing driver Ryan Ratcliffe (GB) was involved in a crash, in which his car was so severely damaged that he and team-mates Joe Osborne (GB), Lee Mowle (GB) and Dirk Müller (DE) were unable to continue. Müller had added his considerable wealth of experience to the Triple Eight Racing team at this endurance classic. Early in the morning, the BMW Z4 GT3 run by Classic & Modern Racing also crashed out. The TDS Racing team, which was in touch with the top ten for many hours, also retired before the end of the race.

Another BMW Z4 GT3 was in action at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The “Marc VDS & Friends Racing Against Cancer” car was raising money for the “Belgian Foundation Against Cancer”. However, Jean-Michel Martin (BE), Pascal Witmeur (BE), Eric van de Poele (BE) and Marc Duez (BE) held their very own version of the 24-hour race – with four 24-minute stints. In total, the number 240 BMW Z4 GT3 completed 42 laps for the good cause.

Reactions after the 24 Hours of Spa.

Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):

“This is a fantastic result for Marc VDS Racing, the BMW Z4 GT3 and BMW Motorsport. Congratulations to the team of Marc van der Straten and Bas Leinders on this long-awaited, richly-deserved victory. To win the home race at Spa-Francorchamps has been the main goal of the entire team for several years. Marc VDS has performed brilliantly for years and has always been capable of competing for top results. The only thing they had missed out on – sometimes by a whisker – was victory. I am extraordinarily pleased that we have now achieved this goal together – and on the BMW Z4 GT3’s last big endurance race.

It was once again an extremely exciting, extremely hard-fought race at this wonderful circuit – from the first lap to the last. Markus Palttala, Nick Catsburg and Lukas Luhr were flawless and made the most of the potential of the BMW Z4 GT3 in every phase of the race. If everything comes together, you have a chance of winning – even in such a tough race. The other BMW Sports Trophy teams also impressed in Spa. For a while we had five BMW Z4 GT3s in the top ten. That shows how competitive our car still is as it reaches the end of its life cycle.

It was a very special race for us, in many regards. Firstly, it is 50 years since a BMW 1800 claimed the first of what is now 22 overall victories for BMW here. Secondly, the appearance of Alex Zanardi, who shared a BMW Z4 GT3 with Bruno Spengler and Timo Glock, was an absolute highlight for us and many fans. It was a real crowd-puller. Unfortunately a technical problem in the final hour of the race meant the car was unable to finish. However, the trio had been very strong until then. Everyone involved did a fantastic job, with a lot of passion and commitment. Although the retirement is obviously a great shame, the project was still a great success. We have had a lot of very positive feedback. I am very proud of the entire team. The outing of the third Marc VDS car for charity was also very successful. The fans had to wait a while for a BMW win at this event. Now it is time to celebrate.”

Bas Leinders (Team Principal, BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS):

“I am extremely proud that we can finally celebrate this victory. We have competed at this race with BMW since 2011 and have so often come close. However, for various reasons we have never won until today. We are very happy. We have grown as a team over the years, and have always remained true to our values. Eighty per cent of those involved have been part of our team for five years. We all know each other very well and are like a family. That was one of the keys to this success. We also had an outstanding driver line-up – a strong mixture of BMW works drivers, together with Markus Palttala and Nick Catsburg. They all did an excellent job and we were a really good team. It is 50 years since BMW claimed its first victory at this race, and our triumph now brings us full circle. It has been a fantastic week, and I would like to thank every single person in the team. Everyone contributed to making this possible.”

Lucas Luhr (#46 BMW Z4 GT3, BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS):

“I am overjoyed. BMW has come very close to winning in so many races here. And we were just pipped at the Nürburgring this year. This time it was our turn, though. I am extremely proud of the entire team and BMW Motorsport. It is fantastic to drive the BMW Z4 GT3. A huge compliment goes to the entire team and, of course, to my fellow drivers Markus Palttala and Nicky Catsburg. Everyone did a fantastic job here.”

Markus Palttala (#46 BMW Z4 GT3, BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS):

“I am totally delighted although, being Finnish, I may not look it,. The entire team worked hard to finally win this race. This is my sixth time in Spa with Marc VDS. I have led the race three times, but never been able to finish the job. The 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps is something of a home race for me – I live just 20 minutes from here. Therefore, I am overjoyed to stand on the top step of the podium here. The race was far from a stroll in the park for us. We had a number of problems, but things ran more smoothly after dawn. We threw everything into the race, and came out on top. I think we more than deserve this success.”

Nick Catsburg (#46 BMW Z4 GT3, BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS):

“That was an emotional rollercoaster. During the night I was ready to throw in the towel, we were so far off the lead. But we pushed like crazy and suddenly found ourselves leading the race. I am totally happy. The team has been trying everything to win here for years. The fact that it achieved that goal on the last big outing for the BMW Z4 GT3 is just fantastic. Let the celebrating begin!”

Alessandro Zanardi (#9 BMW Z4 GT3, ROAL Motorsport):

“That was quite an exciting 24-hour race and a great experience for me. I tis a shame that we had to retire with one hour remaining, but that kind of thing can happen in such a long race. As far as the performance is concerned, we were the fastest car on the track at times. I would like to thank BMW Motorsport and the guys at ROAL. I have made two new friends in Timo Glock and Bruno Spengler, who are extraordinary racing drivers. The BMW Z4 GT3 is a fantastic car. We will miss it. Its successor, the BMW M6 GT3, will undoubtedly be even better, otherwise BMW would not send it into action.”

Timo Glock (#9 BMW Z4 GT3, ROAL Motorsport):

“It was tough. We just missed out by one hour. Everyone in the team did an awesome job. Everything was actually running smoothly – we just had one minor technical problem in the morning, which we were soon able to solve. The car sounded odd before the retirement – but I could do nothing about it. I feel particularly bad for Alex Zanardi. He deserved to finish the race. I think it has been a fantastic experience for us all. I can still remember how we all met for the first time at the roll-out. It feels as though we have been working together for ten years. Everything worked wonderfully.”

Bruno Spengler (#9 BMW Z4 GT3, ROAL Motorsport):

“It was great fun to share a car with Alex Zanardi and Timo Glock. I would like to thank BMW Motorsport for giving me that opportunity. The livery was also fantastic. I feel sorry for the mechanics, who worked day and night. They really deserved to see us finish the race. As racing drivers, we are obviously disappointed not to have finished. However, we still have the experience we have gained and the memories we all share.”

Augusto Farfus (#45 BMW Z4 GT3, BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS):

“I won the first 24-hour race with the BMW Z4 GT3 in Dubai in 2011, and would have liked to have ended as the winner on the car’s final outing. It looked good for us for long stretches. We had the pace. We then started to push at the crack of dawn, in order to open a lead over the second-placed car. Everything was going to plan. However, then came the shock retirement. After the victory for Lucas, Nick and Markus, everyone at Marc VDS has every reason to celebrate today. Congratulations guys, well done!”

First hydrogen station with two types of refueling technology. Latest move by the BMW Group and TOTAL will take forward the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Munich – 07.16.2015 –  It is now possible to drive by fuel cell-powered car all the way from southern Germany to Lake Garda in Italy. The opening of the hydrogen station in Munich’s Detmoldstrasse completes the European HyFIVE project’s South Cluster, which comprises Stuttgart, Munich, Innsbruck and Bolsano.  “This new form of mobility, based on hydrogen, offers private and commercial users zero-local-emission long-distance electric mobility with no concessions on comfort, space and refueling times,” is how Matthias Klietz, head of Research Powertrain at the BMW Group, sums up the advantages of hydrogen.

The TOTAL multi-energy filling station on Detmoldstrasse marks an important milestone. It is the world’s first public filling station where the two pumps dispense hydrogen using two different types of refuelling technology, namely:

  • Industry-standard 700 bar CGH2 hydrogen storage technology. This refuelling technology for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is already up and running.
  • Cryo-compressed hydrogen storage technology (CCH2). This technology, developed by the BMW Group, involves storing gaseous hydrogen at low temperature on board the vehicle at a pressure of up to 350 bar. It is currently at the advanced development stage and will only come on stream for general use over the longer time frame. CCH2 tanks offer up to 50% more hydrogen storage capacity than 700 bar tanks and can support a driving range of over 500 kilometers.

In order to research and develop both types of tank system and their integration in the vehicle, it is important for the BMW Group to have both systems available for testing in the real world and not just in the laboratory. Much more realistic test scenarios can be achieved if lab tests are supplemented by testing at a public filling station.

 Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles offer:

  • Fast and convenient refuelling in less than five minutes – which is about the same time it takes to refuel a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.
  • Long driving ranges in excess of 500 kilometres due to the high energy density of the hydrogen.
  • All-electric, zero-local-emission driving.

Since fuel cell electric vehicles are particularly suited to longer-distance trips, they are the ideal complement to the BMW i models, and to the future plug-in hybrid production models from the BMW brand, which will be based on the already proven eDrive technology. The fuel cell converts the gaseous hydrogen in the vehicle’s fuel tank into electricity and water. Since the high-voltage battery only serves as a power buffer, a much smaller and lighter battery can be used than on a battery-electric vehicle.

In the long run, hydrogen fuel cell drive will become an integral part of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics program, adding to the diversity of the BMW Group’s powertrain portfolio. This portfolio can be flexibly tailored to different vehicle concepts, customer requirements and legal and regulatory requirements in the international automobile markets.

However, a basic requirement for the successful introduction of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is the development of a hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the relevant automobile markets.  In important initial markets for hydrogen, such as Japan, California/USA and Europe (particularly Germany, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia), it is realistic to assume that the current infrastructure initiatives will lead to the establishment of an initial hydrogen refuelling infrastructure by around 2020. Unlike Japan, which as an island has little or no need to make allowances for cross-border traffic, Europe faces much more challenging requirements in terms of ensuring a transnational infrastructure.

The BMW Group is therefore actively contributing its expertise as a partner in important initiatives for the development and planning of a hydrogen infrastructure, such as the H2 Mobility and CEP initiatives in Germany, and also as an active member in the EU’s Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. On the technology side, too, cooperation with strong partners makes good sense in order to speed development. The BMW Group is therefore collaborating intensively with TOTAL Germany and the Linde Group on refueling processes and technology.

Over the long term, moves are afoot to use power-to-gas electrolysis to store surplus renewable electricity in the form of hydrogen. Production of hydrogen from surplus electricity would offer a realistic long-term prospect of ensuring a cost-efficient supply of green hydrogen for use in fuel cell electric vehicles.

BMW Group supports a paradigm shift to cities based around people rather than cars.

BMW Group supports a paradigm shift to cities based around people rather than cars. Presentation of concepts that explore how urban mobility can be managed without private cars; Electric car sharing as a key component; BMW i3 now available via DriveNow.

Berlin – 07.15.2015 – Electric car sharing represents an important pillar of the BMW Group’s efforts to help create a sustainable model for urban mobility, reduce traffic volumes and improve the quality of life in cities. In order to bring this goal within reach through partnership with cities, the BMW Group set up a Centre of Urban Mobility Competence in early 2015. The team of experts brought together under its roof are working with cities and the relevant stakeholders to develop sustainable concepts for future mobility in urban areas. Today’s press conference signals the official start of operations at the BMW Competence Centre.

At the same time, 100 all-electric BMW i3 cars are now available for DriveNow car sharing customers in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. In London the BMW i3 was already added to the DriveNow fleet in May, and other cities in Germany and Europe will soon follow suit.

DriveNow has added more than 470,000 customers around the world over the last four years, including 430,000 in Germany (120,000 in Berlin). Since 2013, DriveNow has been running 60 all-electric BMW ActiveE cars in Munich and Berlin as part of the WiMobil and ePlan research projects. They have performed outstandingly well in day-to-day use and will now be replaced by 40 BMW i3 cars in Berlin, 30 in Hamburg and 30 in Munich. “Our customers have enjoyed using the BMW ActiveE cars as much as the conventional vehicles in our fleet,” says Nico Gabriel, managing director of DriveNow. “This initiative has enabled us to put around 3,000 people per month behind the wheel of an all-electric vehicle for the first time – and, in so doing, spark their enthusiasm for electric mobility. The introduction of the BMW i3 into our fleet is the logical next step, and will soon be followed by a range of others in Germany, Europe and around the world,” adds Gabriel.

Electric car sharing acts as a catalyst for electric mobility.

Another key element for the BMW Group is the important role electric car sharing has to play in driving forward electric mobility as a whole in Germany. Vehicles involved in electric car sharing schemes boost the use of charging points in cities – and on a more predictable basis. This rapidly makes electric mobility visible and more easily accessible to local people, turning it from a niche activity into an everyday reality. It breaks down barriers and eases the pathway into electric mobility.

eCarsharing is an important component of sustainable urban mobility concepts.

Electric mobility and car sharing represent two important building blocks for the BMW Group when it comes to working with cities to develop revolutionary mobility concepts. As Dr Bernhard Blättel, Vice President Mobility Services at BMW AG, explains: “A significant change has taken place within the BMW Group. In line with our strategic goals, we are setting out to establish ourselves as the leading supplier of premium products and premium services for personal mobility worldwide. We are witnessing the changes our customers and society as a whole are making and we are taking them on board. Our aim is to work towards developing a higher quality of life in cities with ample space for urban living. Set up at the start of this year, the Urban Mobility Competence Centre has since provided us with a team of experts who are working with cities and the associated stakeholders to develop and implement new concepts for future urban mobility. In the BMW Group’s view, it is possible to further improve mobility for people living in urban areas. It is not a contradiction in terms to improve mobility and at the same time ensure cities offer a high quality of life for the people who live there.”

The quality of life in our increasingly densely populated cities can be improved significantly by putting public spaces to different use. One way we can achieve this is by freeing up a large portion of the parking areas currently required. To make this possible, mobility concepts and frameworks need to be in place which can spark people’s enthusiasm for urban mobility beyond their own car. Local public transport continues to provide the backbone of mobility services in urban areas. Complementing local public transport with car sharing schemes and other modes of transport, and creating seamless intermodal connections, allows people to use all the routes through a city. This results in a significant reduction in the volume of cars looking for parking spaces and in the number of parking spaces required, not to mention improvements in air quality and noise emissions.

The recently published main points of the German federal government’s car sharing legislation fundamentally address this approach. The legislation enables cities to offer parking privileges for car sharers over private car users in the public interest. On the assumption that these kinds of incentives apply in equal measure for users of station-based and non-station-based car sharing, cities would be able to make substantial progress when it comes to extending the reach of sustainable mobility.

The same applies to Germany’s electric mobility legislation, which, among other things, gives cities the option of designating parking areas exclusively for electric vehicles. This can also help local authorities meet their aims when it comes to limiting vehicle emissions. Indeed, authorities can combine such an approach with a well-thought-through strategy for sustainable urban development to set the tone and embark on a course towards creating an environment that provides a higher quality of life.

BMW Group is a leading provider of mobility solutions; Urban Mobility Competence Centre paves the way.

The BMW Group has recognized the changing nature of the challenges it faces when it comes to mobility and broadened its corporate strategy accordingly. The company’s strategic roadmap runs up to 2020 and is clearly defined: the BMW Group aims to be the leading supplier of premium products and premium services for personal mobility worldwide. Alongside DriveNow, this involves other services such as ParkNow and ChargeNow. The substantial pressure on parking in central areas of cities around the world gives rise to considerable traffic caused by people looking for parking spaces – and with it unnecessary emissions. For drivers, this is often the most unpleasant part of a journey. ParkNow serves as an integrated platform on which to manage parking using both public areas and private spaces.

The benefits for users are clear. But there are also advantages when it comes to parking space monitoring in cities if parking tickets can be paid for online and the number of ticket machines reduced. Depending on parking demand, it is also possible to use real-time information in cars to manage traffic by showing drivers the likelihood, based on a learning algorithm, of a space being available on a given street. If there are no parking spaces available in a particular area, this allows traffic caused by people looking for spaces there to be avoided from the outset. This idea can be extrapolated to provide another parking management option – i.e. pegging parking prices to current demand.

The intermodal route guidance function integrated into the navigation system of the BMW i3 moves things forward another step. When route guidance is activated, this function shows not only the most efficient route to the desired destination by car, but also an intermodal connection, should this provide the most efficient solution. For example, a switch onto local public transport – using precise timetable data – or a rental bike can be integrated into the route guidance process. The intermodal route guidance function, which will be introduced gradually across all the BMW Group’s vehicles, allows additional traffic to be avoided and the driver to be pointed actively in the direction of alternative local public transport options.

The technical and conceptual solutions we have detailed here are all part of the BMW Group’s constantly expanding portfolio. Working together intelligently, they open the door to new forms of urban traffic management in the years ahead. Our long-term vision is for cities to offer an enhanced quality of life, in which more efficient organization of mobility solutions helps to create a new environment in which to live. The top priority of the Competence Centre is to safeguard mobility for all users at its current level at the very least. Deprivation or coercion are not an option. Instead, the types of mobility available will be improved and coordinated so effectively that people will adopt them as a logical consequence.