Obituary: Rudi Eggenberger, 1939-2018

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Obituary: Rudi Eggenberger, 1939-2018
By: Gary Watkins
Feb 13, 2018, 1:21 PM

Swiss entrant Rudi Eggenberger, who achieved unprecedented success in the 1980s glory days of the European Touring Car Championship with three different manufacturers, has died aged 79.

Eggenberger Motorsport BMWs, Volvos and Fords notched up more than 30 victories in what was then known simply as the ETC, and there were five more in the single edition of the World Touring Car Championship spawned by the European series for 1987.

The team won drivers' titles with BMW (1980, '81 and '82) and Volvo (1985), and took the WTCC teams' crown with Ford.

These successes were born of an attention to detail from a boss who was always referred to as "chef" or chief by his mechanics. Eggenberger was a hands-on team owner who had an involvement in every aspect of car development. 

He was a driver of not immodest ability, but decided that his real talents were in car preparation and team management. His organisation developed a Group 2-spec BMW 320 for the ETC in the late 1970s and claimed the overall title in 1980 with Helmut Kelleners and Sigi Muller Jr with the two-litre class car.

The team subsequently moved up to the top division and won the title again with a 635CSi Bimmer driven by Umberto Grano and Helmut Kelleners.

Eggenberger helped BMW develop the 528i for the first year of the new Group A rules in 1982, the same driver pairing making it a hat-trick of titles for the Swiss team. 

He was poached by Volvo to take over its tin-top programme with the 240 Turbo in 1985. The team turned an unlikely contender into a winner, Gianfranco Brancatelli and Thomas Lindstrom taking the title. 

That success attracted the attention of Ford of Germany, which recruited the Swiss team for 1986 in advance of the arrival of the Sierra RS and RS500 Cosworths in 1987.

Drivers Klaus Niedzwiedz and Klaus Ludwig ended up second, just a point behind championship winner Roberto Ravaglia, their Bathurst disqualification proving costly. 

Eggenberger finally notched up a victory in the Spa 24 Hours in 1989, after the demise of the ETC, and also finished runner-up in the DTM that season with Niedzwiedz. 

In the 1990s, the team ran a one-year DTM programme for Opel with the Omega in 1991, briefly dabbled in single-seater racing, and then returned to the Ford ranks in the German STW Super Touring series in 1994 and '95.

That was the last major race programme for Eggenberger, before its founder focussed on the restoration of racing and classic cars. It subsequently became known as Egmo and was sold in 2008.

Ford Sierra RS 500, Ford Texaco Eggenberger Racing Team
Ford Sierra RS 500, Ford Texaco Eggenberger Racing Team

Photo by: LAT Images

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About this article

Series General
Author Gary Watkins
Article type Obituary