Interview with BMW works driver Martin Tomczyk

“I feel very happy at BMW.”

 Martin Tomczyk may only just have turned 30, but he is an old hand in the DTM. The driver from Rosenheim in Germany has been a regular fixture in the touring car series since 2001. This year he fulfilled his greatest ambition by winning the title. Tomczyk has now started out on a new chapter of his DTM career: the reigning champion has switched to the returning BMW. From 6 th to 8th December he completed his first test as a BMW works driver at the “Circuito Monteblanco” in southern Spain. In an interview, Martin talks about what attracted him to the new challenge, the BMW M3 DTM, and his goals and expectations.

“What do you find so attractive about being involved in the BMW DTM project?”

Martin Tomczyk: “Not only must BMW build a new car, but it is practically a newcomer to the DTM again after 20 years away from the series. This means that it must use the know-how it brings with it, from touring car racing and Formula One for example, and adapt it for the DTM. That certainly won’t be easy: the DTM has already shown that everything must always be spot on in order to produce top performances. That will be our main task during the winter. It will be a real challenge to make the car quick while also preparing the teams and BMW’s motorsport department for the DTM.”

“And yet you decided to take on this challenge. Why?”

MT: “After 11 years with another manufacturer, and having won the championship, I was looking for a new challenge. I found this at BMW. I have really enjoyed my first week in Munich and now the first test. It is something new, and I can also contribute a lot of ideas and experience. And my ideas are implemented constructively. It is just nice to be part of this project and to be involved as BMW returns to the DTM after such a long time.”

“What do you think of the BMW M3 DTM after your first test?”

MT: “I have a positive first impression. The basic design of the car is very good. We are still in the early stages of development, so it goes without saying that there are still some details that we must work on. In general, however, BMW can already be happy with what they have achieved with the car – the build of the car – so far. It is now a matter of fine tuning. We definitely still have enough testing ahead of us. However, I believe we will already have a competitive car when the season gets underway.”

“How long did it take you to get used to the car and find your feet in the team?”

MT: “I got used to the car very quickly. It was just a small adjustment, and caused me no problems at all. It is obviously not possible to know everyone in the team yet after just one week. However, working together at the test is the best way to get to know people. That has worked very well so far. I have driven for all three teams, which has allowed me to gain an impression of how they work. That is another new factor when you switch to a different manufacturer. It is great fun though, and I feel very happy at BMW.”

“Bruno Spengler and Andy Priaulx were also at the test. How did you find working with your new team-mates?”

MT: “Very good. Our common goal has to be to work together to develop the car over the winter in order to have a competitive car for the start of the season in Hockenheim. Andy has an enormous wealth of touring car experience, and it is great to have that on board. At the same time, Bruno and I have a lot of experience of the DTM, which we can also bring to the table during development. The teamwork with both Bruno and Andy workes brilliantly. That is important, as we must develop the car together as a team.”

“Bruno Spengler was your rival for the title last year, and now you are both BMW drivers. Was that a bit strange for you at first?”

MT: “Yes, it was rather weird at first. You soon get used to the situation, however. We are now both driving for the same manufacturer. Bruno is my team-mate and we both have the same goal. And to reach that goal, one of the most important things is to have a competitive and well-structured team.”

“Are wins already a realistic goal for BMW?”

MT: “We should take it one step at a time. It is difficult to judge right now, as we obviously don’t know how good the other two manufacturers are. They are also building a new car, and are bound to also have things to improve. For this reason I don’t want to go out on a limb. Whatever happens, our aim is to be competitive from the word go. Only at a later date will we be able to judge whether or not we can realistically be hoping to win races.”

“You celebrated your 30th birthday at the test in Monteblanco. What was your best birthday present?”

MT: “That is easy: to sit in the BMW M3 DTM! It was my second day in the car. The team surprised me with a serenade and a cake in the morning. By the way, I didn’t actually get a single piece of that cake! I was very happy to let the mechanics have it, however, as they work really hard at a test like that and definitely earned it. It was certainly a different way to spend my birthday, although I am used to celebrate it at the Essen Motor Show or at a test track.”

“You have already contested your first races as a BMW works driver. You were in action at the Race of Champions in Düsseldorf for the first time, and were the only DTM driver to reach the semi-finals. Did you have fun?”

MT: “Oh yes. It was absolutely a lot of fun to race against such great drivers from all over the world, and also to have the opportunity to chat and spend time with them. You don’t normally meet the guys from Formula One, rallying, touring cars and the USA very often. I am obviously also happy with my performance. To get to the semi-final and just lose out to the eventual winner, Sébastien Ogier – I think that was a good effort, considering it was my debut at the event.”

“What car do you drive when you are not out on the track?”

MT: “At the moment I drive a BMW 320 Diesel Touring. The car is wonderful. As a sportsman, you obviously want to check out the diversity of the BMW range. I am sure I will be road testing some different cars, as it is nice to get to know the BMW production cars too.”

“What have you got planned between now and the end of the year?”

MT: “The season is gradually drawing to a close. I just have a few more dates to fulfil for my sponsors, then I hope to enjoy Christmas to the full. I will try to keep the start of January free too, so that I can switch off completely from motorsport and recharge my batteries.”