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BMW MOTORSPORT NEWS Le Mans 24 Hour Race: The brand new BMW sports car. Munich, Germany...BMW will be entering a completely new car for the 1998 24 Hour Race at Le Mans. The new BMW sports car is an open, two seat Le Mans prototype (LMP),...


Le Mans 24 Hour Race: The brand new BMW sports car.

Munich, Germany...BMW will be entering a completely new car for the 1998 24 Hour Race at Le Mans. The new BMW sports car is an open, two seat Le Mans prototype (LMP), built for the larger Prototype class with a minimum weight of 875 Kilograms.

Head of Central Marketing BMW AG and Director of BMW Motorsport Limited, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell commented, "We've set ourselves a tough goal. We want to be competitive in the toughest endurance race in the world with a new BMW sports car! The uncertainties are immense, but we are prepared to take them on!".

"Creating such a car is a great and exciting experience" says Christoph Schausberger, Technical Head of race car development at BMW Motorsport Ltd. and responsible for the Le Mans project. "The safety of the carbon fiber chassis, an aspect in which as much energy was invested as in the perfection of the aerodynamics".

The engine which is to be deployed in the Le Mans engagement is the BMW six liter V12, which proved itself impressively in the past in the McLaren BMW. It is thus a well known companion for the team in Munich led by Herbert Vogele, Technical Head of engine development at BMW Motorsport Ltd. who commented: "The most important modifications are derived from the LMP regulations, optimization of weight, and adaptation to the new car". The electrics for both engine and car also came from this department.

The go-ahead for the construction of the BMW sports car came in August 1997. Development and construction by BMW Motorsport Limited will be in the former Williams Grand Prix Engineering complex at Didcot, England. The move to their new premises, near Williams' current headquarters in Grove, will progress throughout the summer of 1998.

BMW will engage two new sports cars as works vehicles. They will take part in the marathon on 6/7 June under the direction of Gabriele Rafanelli, chief of BMW Team Rafanelli.

The following drivers have now been confirmed. The two long standing drivers, Steve Soper (GB) and Johnny Cecotto (YV) are joined by two-time Le Mans winner Hans-Joachim Stuck (D). "I am delighted to be back with BMW, where my racing career began in 1969 with a BMW 2002. To be able to drive the new BMW sports car at Le Mans is very special".

BMW on the way to Formula 1

A new millenium is approaching and in Munich preparations are underway for the return of BMW to Formula 1 by the year 2000 together with our partner Williams Grand Prix Engineering.

In order to meet the greatest challenge in motorsport, the department for racing engine development, led by Paul Rosche, Technical Director of BMW Motorsport Ltd., was staffed up as well as receiving new high-tech equipment for the new BMW Formula 1 V-10. Specialists are extracting the full potential of modern electronics, as BMW prepares to defend it's fine reputation in this field. The 1983 World Championship title with Nelson Piquet owed a lot to the BMW turbocharged engine as well the introduction of telemetry by BMW.

The German Super Touring Car Championship

1998 will see two teams in the Super Touring Car Championship (STW) with four drivers competing in ten races with the BMW 320i. After a season in the FIA GT-Championship, BMW Team Schnitzer will be making a comeback in their home land and starting in the German STW Cup under the proven direction of Charly Lamm and last years' successful duo, Joachim Winkelhock (Germany) and Johnny Cecotto (Venezuela). The Isert team will enter two new BMW 320i's for the BMW works drivers, Christian Menzel and Prince Leopold of Bavaria.

Since the series began in 1994, BMW have taken the title twice and been runners-up twice. Johnny Cecotto took the first championship in the new series in 1994. In 1995 Winkelhock took the title, while 1996 saw Englishman Steve Soper as runner-up. In 1997 it was Winkelhock ahead of Cecotto for second and third place, with BMW taking the laurels in the Manufacturers' Championship.

BMW Italy will contest the Italian Super Touring Car Championship with two BMW 320i . "Never change a winning team" means that 1997's Champion Emanuele Naspetti will again be teamed up with Fabrizio de Simone.

BMW Juniors. The future generation

Three young Germans, Alexander Muller (18), Timo Scheider (19) and Dominik Schwager (21), will begin 1998 as 'BMW Juniors', with the French Oreca Team in the international FIA Formula 3000 Championship. They will be running identical cars, according to specification, with a Lola chassis and Zytec engines. The three Juniors have been serving a sort of apprenticeship in Munich since January, where they have been learning about BMW racing technology.

This is a further contribution to the promotion of young German racing talent by BMW. The company has supported the development of formula racing talent along with the ADAC since 1991 with its own race series. 1998 saw a new concept emerge: Alongside the BMW Formula ADAC Championship with it's 130 bhp, 1100cc, four cylinder, BMW motorcycle engined single seaters, there will be a new BMW ADAC Formula Junior Cup with smaller, lower powered racing cars.

Sabine Reck was re-engaged as a BMW works driver. She will race in the German Veedol Endurance Cup at the Nuerburgring, and will also attempt to repeat the 1997 24 Hour Race victory at the Nuerburgring, which she shared with Johannes Scheid, Peter Zakowski, and Hans Juergen Tiemann.

For privateers, the new 3 series BMW will be prepared as a Group N version. The street version will be presented in 1998 and the racing car derivative will be available for the 1999 season.

BMW Sports Cup 1997

Winners, points. and prizes.

Pierre-Henri Raphanel was the most successful BMW privateer out of over a hundred competitors and is therefore the winner of the BMW Sports Cup 1997. The Frenchman managed a seventh place in the FIA GT Championship with Gulf Team Davidoff McLaren BMW. The 36-year old earned 380 points and took home 70,000 Deutsch Marks from the total prize money of 456,000 Deutsch Marks.

"The BMW Sports Cup has been a tradition for over 30 years and lies close to our hearts," says Karl-Heinz Kalbfell. "Private participation is the cradle of motorsport, and forms the basis of top motorsports."

Geoff Brabham, runner-up in the Australian Super Touring Car Championship and Paul Morris, the winner of this Australian series finished second and third. Geoff Brabham beat Paul Morris in the points table by also collecting points outside of this championship.

Fourth place in the BMW Sports Cup 1997 goes to Duncan Huismann, winner of the Dutch Touring Car Championship. In fifth place follows Jean Marc Gounon, fellow countryman of the Cup winner Pierre-Henri Raphanel and team mate in the FIA GT Championship. Sixth place was awarded to the American, Bill Auberlen, who won the Exxon Supreme GT Series, in the GTS-3 class.

Craig Baird gathered enough points in the Touring Car races in Australia and New Zealand, to take seventh place. Bill Auberlen's competitors in the USA, Javier Quiros and Boris Said, were placed eighth and ninth. German driver Johannes Scheid completes the top ten. He celebrated success in the German Veedol Endurance Cup and a win in the 24 hour race at the Nuerburgring.

Winners of the BMW Sport Cup 1997

Driver Car Points/ Prize Money

1 Pierre-Henri Raphanel (F)     McLaren BMW     380 / DM 70,000
2 Geoff Brabham (AUS)   BMW 320i STW    378 / DM 50,000
3 Paul Morris (AUS)     BMW 320i STW    358 / DM 40,000
4 Duncan Huismann (NL)  BMW 320i Gr,N   348 / DM 35,000
5 Jean Marc Gounon (F)  McLaren BMW     280 / DM 30,000
6 Bill Auberlen (USA)   BMW M3 GT       271 / DM 25,000
7 Craig Baird (NZ)      BMW 320i Gr.N/STW       264 / DM 22,000
8 Javier Quiros (Costa Rica)    BMW M3 GT       261 / DM 20,000
9 Boris Said (USA)      BMW M3 GT       255 / DM 18,000
10 Johannes Scheid (D)  BMW M3 Gr.N     241 / DM 17,000
11 Michael Bader (D)      BMW M3 Gr.N     234 / DM 16,000
12 Tobias Hagenmeyer (D)        BMW M3 Gr.N     234 / DM 15,000
13 Thomas Winkelhock (D)        BMW 320i Gr.N   232 / DM 14,000
14 Martin Wagenstetter (D)      BMW M3 Gr.N     230 / DM 13,500
15 John Nielsen (DK)    McLaren BMW     222 / DM 13,000
16 Massimo Pigoli (I)   BMW 320i STW    215 / DM 12,500
17 Oskar Larrauri (ARG)         BMW 320i STW    214 / DM 12,000
18 Stephane van Dyck (B)        BMW M3 Gr.N     200 / DM 11,500
19 Shaun van der Linde (ZA)     BMW 320i Gr.N   200 / DM 11,000
20 Dr. Thomas Escher (D)        McLaren BMW     197 / DM 10,500

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About this article
Series Formula 1 , Le Mans , General
Drivers Hans-Joachim Stuck , Boris Said , Bill Auberlen , Joachim Winkelhock , Timo Scheider , Johnny Cecotto , Emanuele Naspetti , John Nielsen , Craig Baird , Fabrizio de Simone , Paul Morris , Jean-Marc Gounon , Duncan Huisman , Pierre-Henri Raphanel , Steve Soper , Geoff Brabham , Martin Wagenstetter , Christian Menzel , Johannes Scheid , Javier Quiros , Tobias Hagenmeyer , Charly Lamm , Karl-Heinz Kalbfell
Teams McLaren , Williams , BMW Team Schnitzer