BMW RETURNS TO ALMS WITH THE LATEST GENERATION BMW M3BMW of North America to partner wîth Rahal Letterman Racing for 2009 season
BMW presented the racing version of the new BMW M3 at the Chicago Auto Show. Powered by a 485 bhp eight cylinder engine, this impressive race car has been designed to compete in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) beginning in 2009. The car is based on the fourth generation of the BMW M3, the high-performance sports car produced by BMW M GmbH.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen says: 'With the sporting genes of the production BMW M3 being clearly evident, developing a racing version of the car was the next logical step. The fact that the road-going vehicle is fitted wîth a V8 engine as standard provided us wîth an ideal base. However, the BMW M3 is more than a race car, it has achieved legendary status amongst race fans across the globe. I am convinced that this unique story of the BMW M3 racing cars will now be expanded upon by the addition of further chapters.'
BMW's 2009 entry into the American Le Mans Series will be driven by a partnership between BMW of North America, LLC and Rahal Letterman Racing, co-owned by ÚS motorsport legend Bobby Rahal.
'We are very pleased to be returning to the American Le Mans Series wîth our latest generation BMW M3,' states Tom Purves, Chairman and CEO, BMW of North America. 'Sports car racing has been part of BMW of North America's history practically from day one. Just two weeks after the company was incorporated in March 1975, a BMW CSL won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. We are confident that the fourth generation M3 will continue the legacy of its two predecessors which combined to win six manufacturer's championships over nine seasons in ÚS sports car racing. As it has been in the past we believe the ALMS is the ideal venue to showcase the potential of the newest BMW M3.'
Echoing that sentiment Bobby Rahal adds, 'BMW has an illustrious racing heritage. Rahal Letterman Racing is eagerly anticipating, not only becoming part of that heritage, but helping to enhance it. Our dedication to this project will be without equal and we look forward to racing at the front of the grid wîth BMW in the years to come.'
Martin Birkmann, Motorsports Manager, BMW of North America, adds: 'We are very excited to announce our return to the American Le Mans Series wîth the 4th generation M3 at the same time as the road car hits the BMW showrooms. We are also excited about our partnership wîth Rahal Letterman Racing. The ALMS offers racing where we can compete against the finest and most renowned automotive brands from Europe and the ÚS. Motorsport is deeply ingrained in the BMW DNA and we are pleased to partner wîth an organization which shares that same heritage. Rahal Letterman Racing is the perfect partner to be behind the wheel of our new BMW M3 racing effort.'The BMW M3 Race Version: Sportiness personified.
In the course of developing the race version of the BMW M3, BMW's engineers were faced wîth an ambitious task: to improve upon the sportiness of an already sporting car. A better base would, though, be difficult to find. In standard form the vehicle delivers powerful dynamics and sporting aesthetics. Thanks to an eight cylinder engine producing 414 bhp, BMW's customers are provided wîth a unique driving experience.
Those engine blocks, cast in BMW's light alloy foundry in Landshut - the very source of BMW's Formula One castings - selected for race duty need to withstand even more power: the BMW P65 race engine delivers 485 bhp.
In order to enable the BMW M3 to make full use of this performance on the race circuit, the experts in Munich have not concentrated solely on the engine, but have race-tuned the chassis as well. The race version of the BMW M3 is wider and significantly lighter than its production equivalent, enabling it to perfectly transmit the power of its V8 to the track. Widespread use of carbon-reinforced plastic (CRP) provides proof of substantial weight reduction. As wîth the production version, the race car's roof is manufactured from this high-tech material.
The race version of the BMW M3 is clearly aimed at the top echelon of motorsport. As such, it is no surprise to discover that in the course of its development, begun in mid-2007, numerous Formula One techniques were applied. These include computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and wind tunnel analyses, both of which have ensured the best possible aerodynamic package for the BMW M3.
Intelligent control systems have been incorporated throughout the BMW M3. The POWER400 control unit actuates all the accessories fitted to the car, such as lights, wipers, etc., via two bus systems. Traditional relays and fuses are thus eliminated, ensuring considerable weight saving, improved reliability and ease of application. The functions of the BMW P65 engine are managed by an ECÚ 408 electronic control unit, developed in-house by BMW Motorsport. The software and applications, too, have been developed by the experts in Munich.
An intensive test program, during which the performance of the race car will be honed by BMW Motorsport, looms for the BMW M3 over the coming months. Development drivers will be BMW works drivers Andy Priaulx (GBR), Jörg Müller (GER) and Augusto Farfus (BRA), currently racing in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). The aim is, after all, for the BMW M3 to be an immediate front-runner upon its comeback to the American Le Mans Series. BMW Racing in North America
BMW's return to race track coincides wîth the fourth generation M3's entry into North American showrooms, a pattern familiar to those eager to follow the newest chapter in BMW's storied racing history.
After the CSL's, the 70's ended wîth the 320 Turbo. Known affectionately as the 'Flying Brick' the flame-throwing coupes delighted sports car racing fans wîth their signature exhaust fire. The program also added reams of data to BMW's turbocharging technology, information that would help a BMW-powered Brabham win the 1983 Formula One World Championship.
In the late 1980's BMW of North America entered IMSA's top prototype category wîth the BMW GTP. The program netted only one win, but added incalculable experience to the men and women responsible for racing here in the ÚS. When the second generation M3 debuted in 1995, the company was ready for a major effort in production car racing that continued through 2006 and the third generation M3.
When the checkered flag fell on the last race of the 2006 season, BMW of North America wrote the final page of the most successful chapter to date of its 31-year motorsport story. From 1995 through 2006, BMW of North America's M3 racing program drove to 53 wins in 118 races entered, adding 14 championship trophies to corporate display cases and a shine on the Roundel like never before.Return to familiar territory.
BMW can look back on numerous successes and titles in the ALMS. The BMW V12 LMR prototype won the inaugural ALMS race in 1999 at the Twelve Hours of Sebring. In 1999 and 2000 the BMW V12 LMR went on to score six victories. For 2001 BMW switched to the GT Class, winning everything in sight wîth the BMW M3 GTR, which was developed specifically for the ALMS: BMW works driver Jörg Müller claimed the drivers' championship, Team BMW Motorsport took the team title and BMW won the manufacturers' championship in the company's most important market.BMW in the American Le Mans Series.
The American Le Mans Series is far from virgin territory for BMW. During both 1999, the series' inaugural season, and the following year, the company celebrated major successes in North America. Únder the management of the Schnitzer Team's Charly Lamm, five BMW drivers scored a total of six victories wîth the 580 bhp BMW V12 LMR. In 1999 the impressive BMW V12 LMR simultaneously won the very race which served as inspiration for the ALMS: the Le Mans 24 Hour Race.
In 2001 BMW deployed a new car. For the third ALMS season a switch was made from the Prototype category to the GT class using the BMW M3 GTR, a totally new development powered by an eight cylinder engine delivering 450 bhp. Two operations, Team BMW Motorsport from Germany and the ÚS-domiciled BMW Team PTG, entered two cars each. The Team BMW Motorsport entries were driven by Jörg Müller/JJ Lehto and Fredrik Ekblom/Dirk Müller respectively, wîth Hans-Joachim Stuck and Boris Said, and Niclas Jonsson and Bill Auberlen doing driver duties in the Team BMW PTG Team-entered cars.
The debut season of the BMW M3 GTR rapidly became a success story: BMW drivers mounted the top step of the podium seven times, wîth six pole positions falling their way. BMW works driver Jörg Müller captured the drivers' title, Team BMW Motorsport took team honors, and BMW the manufacturers' championship. After a development program totalling less than six months BMW was able to lay claim to no less than three championships wîth the BMW M3 GTR.Últimately successful 2001 season does not start according to plan.
| ||Vital Stats|
|Engine : 4.0 L., 8-cylinder|
Power: 485 hp
Torque: 368 ft-lbs
The 2001 season did not, though, start according to plan. At the opening race on 4 March in Fort Worth, Texas, the BMW M3 as raced during the previous year was deployed. Stuck and Said gave it their all, and placed third for BMW Team PTG. Approximately two weeks later things looked up: at the Sebring 12 Hour Race in Florida the BMW M3 GTR celebrated its track debut having undergone only cursory shakedown tests due to time pressures. However, Müller and Lehto immediately fired a shot across the bows of the opposition: they crossed the finish line of the classic race in third place, thereby ensuring BMW's first podium place wîth the BMW M3 GTR. 'That was the car's first test drive under racing conditions,' said team manager Charly Lamm.
Team BMW Motorsport thereafter crossed the Atlantic in order to amass more experience by taking in two European Le Mans Series events of 2.45 hour duration each at Donington (Great Britain), and in Jarama (Spain). Although the team suffered a double retirement in England, the Jarama race ran totally to plan: Team BMW Motorsport celebrated its first one-two via Ekblom/Dirk Müller and Lehto/Jörg Müller.They're unleashed.
After its European sojourn, Team BMW Motorsport returned to the ÚSA. Together wîth Team BMW PTG, Charly Lamm's operation fought for points and placings at California's Sears Point Raceway. Lasting almost three hours, the race culminated in a quadruple success for BMW: Lehto/Jörg Müller won from Said/Stuck, wîth Ekblom/Dirk Müller and Auberlen/Jonsson following them across the line. The next race, at Portland, Oregon, saw Said/Stuck win, wîth Team BMW Motorsport taking third and fourth places.
The extent of the domination of the BMW teams became clear during the final four rounds of the series: in Mosport (Canada), Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca Lehto/Jörg Müller won from Ekblom/D Müller; the season finale, the 'Petit Le Mans' at Road Atlanta, saw Auberlen/Said/Stuck win. Dirk Müller and Jörg Müller placed second.
Thus the BMW teams ended the 2001 ALMS season wîth four consecutive one-two victories. BMW drivers mounted the top step of the podium seven times, wîth Jörg Müller celebrating the most: he amassed 185 points to take the drivers' title by five points from team-mate JJ Lehto. The teams' classification was won by Team BMW Motorsport (184 points), wîth BMW Team PTG placing third wîth 170. The Manufacturers' Championship went to BMW wîth 198 points.
In total the BMW teams had contested ten races each. For Team BMW Motorsport in particular, participation in the series proved a major logistical challenge: the team travelled nearly 7,000 miles within Europe and a further 28,000 miles in North America as its crew travelled from race to race. A regular paddock and permanent workshop facilities were as sorely missed as were home town comforts.
'The technicians, the teams and the drivers performed magnificently,' said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen after the season finale. 'The late project start, combined wîth the logistical challenges of the North American races, made it extremely demanding.' The effort was, though, justified: the BMW M3 GTR came through its baptism of fire wîth flying colors.Source - BMW
The Champion in Touring Car Racing. 25 years ago the BMW M3 started its unique series of victories.
In August 1985, a rumour surfaced in motor magazine Auto-Deutschland which emanated from a new sports car. An A Group Car from BMW that was a thoroughbred racing car according to the rules but was also to be produced in a version licensed to drive on open roads for everyday use. Speculation about this dream car that could take to normal roads and was intended for the 'Most dynamic among BMW 3 Series drivers' was right on target. But the pundits missed the mark about the motor-sport car by a mile on one prediction: They were convinced that anyone who 'wants to be a key player in the A Team needs to be turbocharged under the bonnet'. Not true. The BMW M3 had a naturally aspirated engine. And it became the most successful touring car in the history of BMW.
The M3 project was launched just a few months earlier. Production of the M1 mid-engine sports car had already been discontinued for some time and BMW CEO Eberhard Kuenheim commissioned a design for a successor, almost as an aside, according to legend. After one of his regular visits to Motorsport GmbH in Munich's Preußenstraße he said, almost as he was leaving: 'Mr. Rosche, we need a sporty engine for the 3 Series.' His aspiration was in good hands. Motorsport GmbH wîth its managing director of technical development Paul Rosche had demonstrated its expertise wîth the legendary 5 Series saloons driven by M engines as well as developing the Formula 1 turbo engine that powered Brazilian Nelson Piquet to win the World Championship in the Brabham BMW in 1983.Power source: a four-cylinder engine wîth 2.3 litres displacement and four-valve engineering.
The new 3 Series engine had something in common wîth this: the crankcase. It originated from volume production and actually formed the basis for the two-litre engine wîth four cylinders. Four cylinders meant less weight and high torque, an ideal platform for a sports engine in the projected displacement class. Naturally enough, the series four-cylinder engine was much too tame for a sports engine. A comprehensive power boost was called for in order to turn the plucky daily workhorse into an athletic and sporty power unit. The BMW design engineers increased the displacement to 2.3 litres and applied a formulation that had already achieved significant successes over a period of many years: four-valve engineering. There was also another reason for the decision to opt for a four-cylinder engine and not adopt the six-cylinder engine introduced in the BMW 3 Series. The longer crankshaft in the big engine started to vibrate much earlier than the shorter four-cylinder shaft. The design engineers therefore designed the crankshaft drive of the BMW M3 wîth sufficient torsional stability to achieve 10,000 revolutions a minute and more. By comparison wîth the four-cylinder engine installed in the series vehicles, this represented an increase of more than 60 percent. Paul Rosche recalls:
'We started work immediately. One advantage was that the big six-cylinder engine originally had the same cylinder gap as the four-cylinder engine. We therefore cut two combustion chambers off the four-cylinder head of the M88 and bolted a panel over the hole on the rear side.' This meant that the new four-cylinder engine had a second forebear. The six-cylinder engine that had initially created a sensation in the M1 and had meanwhile transformed the M635CSi into one of the fastest coupés in the world. Paul Rosche: 'Whether you believe it or not – we had created an outstanding four-cylinder engine for the 3 Series within the space of two weeks. Únder the development name S14, this engine was to generate headlines in sport and in volume production over the years to come. One Sunday, I drove to von Kuenheim's flat and gave him the car for a test drive. When he came back he said: 'Good, I like it.' And that's how the M3 came into being.'
Contrary to the situation wîth the mid-engine sports car, the BMW M3 was not going to be crafted by hand in small batches. This car was to be produced as a mass-production automobile on an assembly line. It was destined to compete in near-production touring car motor sport, or more precisely as a Group A racing car, defined as a 'production car', of which at least 5,000 units have to be built within the space of twelve consecutive months in accordance wîth Annex J of the international automobile sport regulations.300 hp for competitive racing
However, many of them immediately disappeared again into garages and workshops to be given a new outfit. After all, the M3 had been designed as a racing car, and this was the time to prove that it really could 'race'. A World Touring Car Championship was held for the first time in 1987. And that was exactly what the M3 had been built for. But not quite in the guise in which it was seen on the streets. Instead of 200 hp, the 2.3 litre engine delivered up to 300 hp at 8,200 rpm in the racing version. This put it on a par wîth the BMW M635CSi. BMW didn't line up on the starting grid wîth its own team but supported a number of famous racing outfits like Schnitzer, Linder, Zackspeed and Bigazzi. Drivers like Markus Oestreich, Christian Danner, Roberto Ravaglia and Wilfried Vogt took the wheel, and Annette Meeuvissen and Mercedes Stermitz were the first women drivers.
Roberto Ravaglia in the M3: first World Touring Car Champion.
The first race for the 1987 World Touring Car Championship started in Monza on 22 March 1987 – and ended wîth a sensation. All the M3 cars were excluded from the placings. The vehicles were checked under chaotic conditions and disqualified because of sheet-metal thicknesses that were allegedly contrary to the regulations. BMW appealed but the sports tribunal decided that the appeal had been lodged too late. There was no longer any talk of infringements of the rules. All the brouhaha naturally didn't have any effect on the result of the championship. At the end of the season, Roberto Ravaglia was standing on the podium as the first World Touring Car Champion. But that was only the pinnacle of the success list. Wilfried Vogt took the title of European Champion. Altfried Heger came in second – both driving a BMW M3. In 1987, the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) also went to the new BMW M3, wîth Eric van de Poele behind the wheel. Moreover, the most sporty 3 Series car was also winning competitions off the race track. An M3 crossed the finishing line in first place in the Corsica Rally and secured a victory for BMW after a gap of 14 years in a race for the World Rally Championship. 24 Hour Race: M3 one-two victory on the Nürburgring.
In 1988, the BMW M3 continued the success story and took the national titles in France, England and Spain. In the following year came another victory in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM), this time wîth Roberto Ravaglia in the driver's seat, alongside wins at the national championships in Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, Finland, Spain, Sweden and Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, the displacement had been increased to 320 hp and the BMW M3 drove the competition into the ground. Belgian driver Marc Duez battled his way through the Monte Carlo Rally wîth an M3 and took eighth place as best driver in a car without a four-wheel drive. The sensational one-two victory in the 24-hour classic on the Nürburgring crowned this series of successes in 1989 wîth the driver combinations Pirro/Ravaglia/Giroix and Heger/Grohs/Manthey.Playing wîth displacement: the right engine for each race.
The M3 had a commanding presence on the international touring car racing scene for five years. It became the most successful touring car of all times by winning the two champion's titles in the European Touring Car Championship and twice in the German Touring Car Championship. There were also numerous further victories and championship wins at international level. Depending on the competition rules, the four-valve engine had to be adapted to national regulations. For example, the capacity for England was limited to 2 litres while for Germany and France it was raised to 2.5 litres wîth effect from 1990. This enabled the four-cylinder to deliver up to 355 hp. In the version wîth the biggest capacity, the engineers of BMW M GmbH went up against the limits of what was feasible. In order to make full use of the 2.5 litre limit, they not only increased the stroke of the 2.3 litre unit from 84 to 87 millimetres, but also increased the cylinder bore from 94 millimetres to 95.5 millimetres. This reduced the width between the cylinders to just 4.5 millimetres. But success proved the development engineers right. The engines withstood the stresses and strains of touring-car racing even at maximum output without any problem.1992: the first BMW M3 wîth a six-cylinder engine.
The year 1992 saw the birth of a completely new M3, this time wîth an advanced six-cylinder engine. Once again, Motorsport GmbH developed a version for competition in record time. In April 1993, the new M3 was due to line up at the start of the first race for the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). But due to discrepancies in the new regulations, BMW changed its strategy and instead set up a BMW M3 GTR in the striking design of a starting flag and entered the Warsteiner ADAC GT Cup organised by the German Automobile Association. The six-cylinder now generated 325 hp, the car weighed 1300 kilos in accordance wîth the regulations. A strong BMW team lined up at the start wîth Johnny Cecotto and Kris Nissen, and Cecotto ended up taking the championship at the end of the season. However, this was the end of the motor-sport chapter for this M3 GTR for the time being. Changes in the regulations meant that the potent 3 Series had no realistic changes of victory any more. The BMW M3 GTR: the most powerful M3 ever.
BMW only returned to motor sport as a works team wîth a BMW M3 seven years later. In 2001, the first starting flag came down for the new BMW M3 GTR powered by a 450 hp V8 engine. The most powerful M3 ever set benchmarks in the GT class of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) wîth its four-litre engine and raced in a quartet: Team BMW Motorsport entered two cars under the management of Charly Lamm and two other cars were raced by the American BMW Team PTG run by Tom Milner, who hailed originally from Germany. The coupé took seven victories in ten races, six of them were from pole positions. BMW works driver Jörg Müller won the driver's championship in the GT Class, BMW Motorsport won the team placings, and BMW became constructors' champion in the company's most important export market.
But the advanced BMW M3 GTR also caused a sensation in Europe. Two each of these eight-cylinder racing cars lined up at the start of the 24 Hour Race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and on the Nürburgring in 2004 and 2005.The result: In both years, BWM took a one-two victory on the Nürburgring, and class victory went to BMW in Spa in 2004.
In 2009, the next generation of the M3 started in the American Le Mans Series. The V8 engine was beefed up to 485 hp and entered the Twelve Hour Race at Sebring for the first time. The successes meant that the M3 was also raced in Europe in the following year. It lined up at the start of the 24 Hour Race on the Nürburgring, in Le Mans and in Spa-Francorchamps. The result: outright victory on the Nürburgring – for the 19th time – and class victory in Spa.
And the next winner will soon be on the starting line in 2012. BMW will be back at the German Touring Car Masters (DTM) wîth three teams and the new BMW M3 DTM.Source - BMW