The European BMW Z4 GTE program for Marc VDS was confirmed at BMW Motorsport_s end-of-season awards ceremony in Munich tonight.
It will be the first time the Z4 GTE will be raced outside of North America, having contested the ALMS and new-for-2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Priaulx, who drove the BMW Z4 GTE in America this year, has been confirmed as the lead driver for the effort. His teammates for 2015 will be announced at a later date.
_This is a nice program, it_s going to be an enjoyable team. I_m really looking forward to doing these five races with Marc VDS, and hopefully we could have a championship to our name _ that would be lovely,_ Priaulx said.
_I_ve really enjoyed the racing in GT _ there_s no easy stint. I really like the long distance races _ they_re great, and all the ELMS races are four hours so that_s a nice length to share with other drivers, you can get into a nice rhythm._
_Let_s not forget that there are some brilliant tracks _ which I know really well _ on next year_s calendar. I_m really looking forward to it._
_This is one of the most exciting programs we_ve ever taken on as a team. Racing the GTE is a new challenge, and one we_re all thrilled about. Technically, the car might look similar to the GT3, but it_s a wholly different beast,_ team principal Bas Leinders added.
_To get Andy Priaulx on board is also fantastic _ I know him from my early racing days in the UK, so I know he_s a great racer. He spent last year driving this car so he knows it well, and that will be very important._
_We know that the ELMS is a strong championship, with an excellent level of competition _ it_s not going to be an easy year!_
It is highly unlikely that the confirmation of a European Z4 GTE program will include a return to Le Mans for BMW. Earlier this year BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt told Sportscar365 that BMW would not be competitive at Circuit de la Sarthe.
_We are confident that we will also fare well and mix it with the front-runners in the ELMS with BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS,_ Marquardt said tonight, making no reference to Le Mans at all.
As was the case this season, the Marc van der Straten-owned team is also planning to compete in the 24-hour races at the Nurburgring and Spa next year, plus the first VLN rounds of the season. The full lineup for the GT3 program will be announced at a later date.
Sportscar365 | Marcel ten Caat