SCHNITZER, for so long a flagbearer for BMW in various forms of sports car and touring car racing, has lost its ‘works team’ status amid a cutback of the marque’s motorsport activities.
With BMW departing the DTM, which itself is switching to a team-based GT3-style championship, the marque has retained two-time champions Team RMG to develop the new M4 GT3 in the future, while cutting loose both Schnitzer and Team RBM.
“We very much regret that, given the changes in motorsport, it is no longer possible to continue the cooperation with BMW Motorsport,” Herbert Schnitzer Jr, team principal of BMW Team Schnitzer, said.
“However, we obviously understand and respect the decision.
“We are proud that we Schnitzers have, together with BMW, shaped international motorsport for so many decades.
“It is a pleasure to look back on all the big successes we have enjoyed together in such a wide range of categories.
“We are also very proud to be a part of motorsport history at BMW. We would like to thank BMW Motorsport for this long, unique partnership. BMW was our life and our passion.”
The announcement comes just a day after Bentley confirmed that it was shutting down its factory GT3 team, run by M-Sport.
Schnitzer was founded in 1967 by brothers Josef and Herbert (Sr) Schnitzer, with their half-brothers Dieter and Karl ‘Charly’ Lamm joining in the 1970s.
The squad has been synonymous with BMW throughout its time and has been one of BMW’s factory outlets for decades.
It was Schnitzer’s success in Group A touring car racing in the 1980s that brought it to Australian motorsport’s attention, the team winning the European championship and the flagship Spa 24 Hours race on multiple occasions with the BMW 635CSi.
The team came to Mount Panorama in 1987 when the Bathurst 1000 counted as a round of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship, and their machinery returned to our shores in the early 1990s when Tony Longhurst and Alan Jones raced Schnitzer-supplied BMW M3s in Benson & Hedges colours.
More recently, they returned to lead BMW’s presence in the Bathurst 12 Hour – it was a Schnitzer BMW that Chaz Mostert drove to pole position in 2018.
Schnitzer has won or achieved some level of success in all the top touring car championships and races around the world, including winning the British, German, Italian and Japanese Touring Car Championships along with the world title in 1987 , a four-year domination of the Wellington 500 from 1988 to 1991, and victories in the Macau Guia Race and Nurburgring 24 Hours.
The team followed BMW into sports car and GT racing, campaigning the BMW V12-powered McLaren F1 GTR in the late 1990s and winning the Le Mans 24 Hours with BMW’s GT1 prototype in 1999.