The participants have been confirmed for the 2017 BMW Motorsport Junior Programme. Dennis Marschall (GER) and Beitske Visser (NED) are the newest members of the line-up, completing the list of talented young drivers that BMW Motorsport will be supporting in the coming months and years. Visser is the first woman to make the leap to the BMW Motorsport youth programme since its restructuring in 2014. Nico Menzel (GER), Ricky Collard (GBR) and Joel Eriksson (SWE) are already in their second year of training and were joined by new boy Mikkel Jensen (DEN) before the season started. BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt welcomed the new year group in Munich.
“I am delighted to welcome our new Juniors year group Mikkel Jensen, Beitske Visser and Dennis Marschall to the BMW Motorsport family as we celebrate the 40th year of BMW Motorsport talent promotion,” said Marquardt at the reception held at the BMW Motorsport site. “We have another set of very talented Juniors, who won through against numerous competitors to join the group. Mikkel joined the programme some weeks ago. He will be competing in this year’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season with Nico Menzel in the BMW M6 GT3. Beitske, the first woman to be part of our newly restructured promotion programme, and Dennis also have a promising future. And it is to the future that we look when selecting new talent; with the right support, today’s talented young driver can be the champion of tomorrow. Our two-time DTM champion and former BMW youth driver Marco Wittmann is the most impressive example of this. I am convinced that our new BMW Motorsport Juniors will also take the next, important step in their development as racing drivers. I am looking forward to a thrilling talent promotion anniversary year.”
Jensen, Marschall and Visser, who made a strong case for inclusion in the Junior Programme at a shoot-out at Miramas (FRA) in the BMW M4 GT4, used their time in Munich to get to know one another and take a look at the world of BMW. Accompanied by their mentor Dirk Adorf (GER), they enjoyed an exclusive tour of the BMW Group Plant Munich. “I am happy that we have found three promising and talented young drivers this year. We can train Mikkel Jensen, Dennis Marschall and Beitske Visser in the coming months,” said Adorf. “I am particularly pleased that a woman has joined our programme for the first time this year. I think that the progress made by Jesse Krohn and our other juniors at BMW Motorsport is a great example and an incentive for the next generation.”
Jensen has already completed his first races in the BMW M6 GT3. He started alongside Menzel for Walkenhorst Motorsport in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. Marschall celebrated his first major racing successes in the 2014 ADAC Formel Masters, winning three races and finishing in sixth place overall. He switched to touring car racing in 2015 to compete in the Audi Sport TT Cup, part of the DTM race weekends. He came to attention there with third and second places overall in his two seasons. Marschall is making his ADAC GT Masters debut in the 2017 season. He is also a sponsored candidate for the Deutsche Post Speed Academy, whose jury members include BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt and BMW DTM driver Timo Glock (GER). “I am really looking forward to this opportunity,” says Marschall. “In this first year, my primary goal is settle into the BMW Motorsport family. And of course I cannot wait for my first competitive races in the BMW cars.”
Visser is the first woman to join the BMW Motorsport Junior Programme. She has been driving in the Formula Renault 3.5 World Series for the last three years, one of the most competitive junior series in formula racing. In 2013, she was a member of the Junior Team at BMW Motorsport Premium Partner Red Bull. She is now making the move to GT and touring car racing as a BMW Motorsport Junior. “I am proud to be part of the BMW Motorsport family now,” says Visser. “I hope that this support programme will help me to become a professional racing driver.”
The season is already well underway for the Juniors who are in their second year of training. Collard is competing in all of the ADAC GT Masters races with Philipp Eng (AUT) in the BMW M6 GT3. He also drove the BMW M4 GT4 media car in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring (GER). Menzel is driving the BMW M6 GT3 in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Collard and Menzel are also actively involved in the development of the BMW M4 GT4. Eriksson is battling for victory in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, and will also be driving the BMW M4 DTM race taxi in the DTM.
The Juniors will be supervised in competitive action in the BMW M6 GT3 by their mentor, BMW works driver Jörg Müller (GER). He has already competed with Collard and Menzel on several occasions. “I am looking forward to working with the BMW Motorsport Juniors and passing on the experience I have gained during the development of the BMW M6 GT3 and in countless races around the world,” says Müller. “I think I can give them advice about driving issues and help them to understand the car technology and communicate with the engineers.”