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BMW doubles GT presence

Flying visit: Bruno Spengler has taken a weekend out of his busy DTM diary to drive the second BMW M6 GT3 sold in Australia at the Phillip Island GT race this weekend.

Return to motorsport working for BMW as second M6 GT3 hits the track

27 May 2016

BMW claims its return to Australian motorsport after an eight-year hiatus is paying dividends, with a positive response from its dealer network and another M6 GT3 doubling the propeller-badge presence on local circuits from this weekend.

After leaving Formula One in 2009, BMW rekindled its local racing connection with a single factory-backed M6 GT3 entering the 2016 Australian GT series at the hands of Steve Richards and SRM Team BMW, but a second purpose-built racer will roll out with team Marc GT at Phillip Island on the weekend.

To celebrate the first race of the second M6 GT3, BMW has flown in renowned factory racing driver and 2012 DTM champion Bruno Spengler, who will pilot the new car alongside teammate Morgan Haber, under the management of team boss Ryan McLeod.

Speaking to journalists at a media event in Melbourne yesterday, the DTM ace told GoAuto he hoped his first visit to Australia would have a positive effect on the BMW brand.

“I would hope so,” Mr Spengler said. “Maybe I’m not the best one to answer that question but that’s definitely my goal – to try and achieve that.

“The M6 races now all around the world and I think our goal is that the M6 is successful and to make the brand successful everywhere.

“We really want to get that going well here in Australia. It’s an important kick-off for us and everyone here and we’re going to give our very best. I’m going to give my very best to have the best impact possible on the weekend for BMW and for Marc Cars.”

While the sale of one more $572,000 M6 GT3 will certainly not hurt BMW’s coffers, the car-maker’s main incentive for entering the GT series is to raise its profile and ultimately sell more cars for the road.

BMW Group Australia marketing general manager Stuart Jaffray said the sale of another M6 racer was a conspicuous sign that BMW’s return to the track was having a positive effect, and that the effect would cascade down to dealerships and high-street sales.

“That is where probably the most overt sign in terms of positive rub-off we will get is that as people see the level of support and how seriously we are taking this in Australia, I think we will see the number of BMWs running around on that grid increase,” he said.

“Then from a general public perspective it’s been fantastic to see a majority of our dealerships jumping on with these opportunities. As soon as they heard Bruno was here they said, ‘Can we get him to the dealership? Can we do meet and greet?’“We’ve been doing the same with Steve (Richards). All of that stuff is good for us and good for the brand.”

Mr Jaffray explained that BMW is frequently approached by a wide variety of companies enquiring about sponsorship opportunities, but that the German brand only invests in a handful of partners that were deemed a perfect fit in a number of critical areas.

When asked if BMW had considered entering the V8 Supercar league as a possibility for its motorsport involvement, Mr Jaffray replied “honestly, yes,” but the consideration of GT participation had started long before.

“Honestly, yes, because, again, we look at everything and from a marketing perspective it would be a mistake for us not to,” he said.

“I’ve been in general marketing at BMW for 18 or 19 months and this project (GT) has been a long time to fruition. Certainly since I’ve had my time in the chair, this has been the direction we had decided.”

While support of the Australian GT series does not yet match followers of the V8 Supercar championship, Mr Jaffray said GT was a better fit for BMW and that interest was growing in the sport.

“If you are talking to the wrong people then it’s a genuine waste of my marketing dollars, therefore there has to be an alignment in terms of the target audience,” he said.

“It’s a good audience for us. There’s a nice balance of – and I hate to use the term gentlemen racers because it takes you back to the 1920s – but there is that element to the sport, which is good for us.

“Across motorsport, I am pretty comfortable with where we sit overall as a brand.”

With a relatively short time in the series, Mr Jaffray said it was extremely hard to pinpoint or quantify the exact return from motorsport involvement, but despite the short period, the company was already satisfied with the results.

“Can we measure that in absolute terms? Absolutely not,” he said.

“This year was always going to be about building a foundation for us in the sport in this country.

“Is it working and delivering against what we set out to achieve this year? Absolutely.”

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