(Credit: Phil Allaway)

BMW Team RLL Announces 2017 Driver Lineup

On Friday afternoon, BMW Team RLL announced their full-time and endurance driver lineups for the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.  Both cars will see a mix of returning drivers and some new blood.

Last year, the team ran Nos. 25 and 100.  100 was used in honor of BMW’s 100th anniversary.  That number has changed once again, this time to No. 19.  The No. 19 will be driven full-time by veteran Bill Auberlen and newcomer Alexander Sims full-time.  Sims comes to BMW Team RLL after a very successful season with ROWE Racing in the Blancpain GT Endurance Series.  Sims was part of the winning team in the Total 24 Hours of Spa back in July.  Sims replaces Dirk Werner, who has left the team and will drive full-time for Porsche North America in 2017.

Auberlen and Sims will be joined by Augusto Farfus and Canadian racer Bruno Spengler in the endurance events.  In addition, the No. 19 will run a special Art Car scheme designed by minimalist artist John Baldessari that was unveiled last week during Art Basel in Miami Beach.

The No. 25 entry will be driven full-time by returning racer John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk.  Tomczyk, a 35-year old German racer, comes to IMSA after racing in DTM for the last 16 consecutive seasons.  He was DTM Champion in 2011 in an Audi before switching to BMW when the München-based manufacturer entered DTM in 2012.  Tomczyk replaces Lucas Luhr, who left the team after a very difficult 2016 season.

For the endurance races, Edwards and Tomczyk will be joined by Kuno Wittmer and Nicky Catsburg for the endurance events.  Wittmer, the 2014 GTLM class champion for SRT Motorsports, competed in three endurance races last season for BMW Team RLL in the No. 100.  Catsburg is brand-new to the fold and coming off of a fairly busy 2016.  Catsburg drove for Black Swan Racing in the GT Daytona class in four races, finishing second in class at the Rolex 24.  Catsburg raced full-time in the World Touring Car Championship, winning race No. 2 at Moscow Raceway and finishing seventh in points for Lada Sport.  In addition, Catsburg raced in the Blancpain GT Endurance Series in Europe.

2017 will be the final season for the team’s BMW M6 GTLM, a car based on the current BMW M6 GT3 that is exclusive to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.  For 2018, BMW is building a new GTE car that will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s GTE-Pro class.  This new car will also compete in IMSA events.

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Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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