An Open Secret: Sportscars and Formula 1 MUNICH, January 21, 1999: The absolute highlights in BMW motorsport in 1999 are the development of a new sports car and the test programme for BMW's new Formula 1 power unit. "Preparing our return to...
An Open Secret: Sportscars and Formula 1
MUNICH, January 21, 1999: The absolute highlights in BMW motorsport in 1999 are the development of a new sports car and the test programme for BMW's new Formula 1 power unit.
"Preparing our return to Formula 1 together with Williams Grand Prix Engineering in the year 2000 has top priority," says BMW's Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger. "And at the same time, we have built a new sports car targeted at international top-flight motor racing." Apart from Formula 1 and the sports car project, promotion of young talents and support for BMW customers in touring car racing are further highlights of the new season.
The new BMW V12 LMR sports car
In 1998 BMW became the first manufacturer to build a modern open sports car for endurance racing: the BMW V12 Le Mans.
"Last year, the open BMW was still quite an exotic contender in between all those fixed-roof prototypes, the so-called GT cars," says Berger. "But, in hindsight, it proved to be a genuine trendsetter - now a number of manufacturers have taken the same approach and FIA has amended its policy accordingly."The comeback of the open two-seater in motor racing follows the renaissance of BMW's open two-seater sports cars on the road. And the BMW V12 LMR proudly bears out this modern roadster philosophy in the letter "R" in its name. The BMW V12 LMR is very versatile in its abilities.
"On an international level, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is certainly the most outstanding event," Berger adds. "But the new sports car series in the USA, BMW's No 1 foreign market, is certainly very interesting, too. And we are naturally keeping a close look on FIA's strategy to create a suitable racing series here in Europe. For the time being, we will nevertheless concentrate on our activities for testing the BMW V12 LMR. Then we will decide where to race the car."
BMW's new V12 LMR sports car is the first project to be completed at the new facilities of BMW Motorsport Limited in the English town of Grove.
The chief engineer is John Russell. The BMW V12 LMR is an open two-seater with a single-piece carbon-fibre monocoque body, albeit in new design. Overall weight of the car is 900 kilograms or 1985 pounds - 25 kilograms more than the previous model on account of the new regulations. At 90 litres, the capacity of the fuel tank is up by 10 litres.
The new car will once again be powered by a 12-cylinder BMW based on the engine already featured in the McLaren BMW that brought home both the BPR Sports Car Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995.
"The V12 has proved time and again to be a very driveable engine and is absolutely reliable especially on long distances," says Herbert Vogele, who is responsible for further development of BMW's 12-cylinder in Munich. The 6-litre power unit is now even lighter and more efficient than before, maximum output being limited to approximately 550 bhp by the air restrictors required under regulations.
A comprehensive programme of test activities started in summer 1998, using the '98 model. One of the main tasks was to further refine the car's streamlining in the wind tunnel at Williams Grand Prix Engineering, BMW's partner in Formula 1 racing.
Components of the new car were then tested on the track in the '98 chassis, Tom Kristensen (DK), Pierluigi Martini (I), Steve Soper (GB), and Hans-Joachim Stuck (D) taking turns at the wheel. All the know-how gained in the process naturally went into the development of the new roadster.
Sports car racing activities under the guidance of Charly Lamm
BMW Motorsport has assigned all racing activities with the works sports car to the team of Schnitzer Motorsport, under the guidance of Charly Lamm, an old hand with lots of experience in the racing scene. Based in the German town of Freilassing, near Salzburg, Schnitzer Motorsport has brought home more than 20 national and international championships with BMW ever since 1996.
In 1998, Herbert Schnitzer's team clinched the German Super Touring Car Championship, and one year before the team finished as the runner-up in the FIA GT Championship with a McLaren BMW, at the same time coming in second place in the GT1 class in its very first attempt at LeMans.
Team Rafanelli, which has already been racing for BMW since 1987, will be entering Formula 3000 independently of BMW in 1999, and has established its own new team for this purpose - the WRT World Racing Team.
BMW's sports car drivers in 1999
Hans-Joachim Stuck (D), Joachim Winkelhock (D), Steve Soper (GB), Pierluigi Martini (I) and Bill Auberlen (USA) will remain with BMW in 1999 as works drivers for the company's various sports car projects. Racing also for other manufacturers, Tom Kristensen (DK) will be continuing with BMW, and Yannick Dalmas (F) will be available for BMW sports car projects for the first time. Jorg Müller, who already raced super touring cars for BMW back in 1995 and 1996, will be testing BMW's new Formula 1 power unit in 1999 and will be racing the BMW V12 LMR sports car on the track.
Preparations in Formula 1 for the year 2000
With Jorg Müller signing up for the team in December, BMW is now ready and all set to go on the test programme for the 10-cylinder Formula 1 power unit, built at a specially converted engine production shop in Munich under the guidance of Paul Rosche, the Technical Director of BMW Motorsport Limited. Work is proceeding according to plan in the direct vicinity of BMW's FIZ Research and Development Centre.
"This clearly underlines BMW's commitment in returning to Formula 1", says Gerhard Berger. "BMW intends to master the Formula 1 challenge on its own resources, using its own engine technology, and the name BMW stands behind everything right from the start. Apart from Paul Rosche's department, we will also be using the resources of BMW AG." BMW's Formula 1 power unit will be tested on the track for the first time in spring 1999.
Promoting talents, customer and popular sport
BMW is continuing its promotion of talents in Formula racing also in 1999. The BMW ADAC Formula Junior Cup and the BMW Formula ADAC Championship remain two major activities. These racing series give 16-year-olds the opportunity to race Formula cars powered by BMW motorcycle engines.
The BMW 320i DTC has been developed especially for high-level customer sport with production-based touring cars applying the German Touring Car Challenge (DTC) regulations also followed in a number of other countries.
BMW offers teams a complete motorsport kit for the new 3 Series saloon, including the six-cylinder power unit developing more than 200 bhp.
With BMW concentrating its engine development activities entirely on the new Formula 1 power unit and the BMW V12 LMR, Swiss engine specialist Heini Mader Racing Components S.A. has taken over responsibility for the BMW V8 racing engine project. This racing engine was developed by BMW for customer sports car teams, above all in the USA, and was tested in a number of sports car races in 1998, bringing home its first win in autumn of the year. BMW had cooperated on this project with Mader ever since development started in 1997.