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2010 BMW M3 GT2 Art Car news, pictures, specifications, and information

World Premiere of Jeff Koons' BMW Art Car at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Car will race at 24 hours of Le Mans.

At the premiere of the 17th BMW Art Car Jeff Koons unveiled and signed his car in front of 300 international VIP guests on June 1 in the Centre Pompidou, one of the world's most prestigious cultural institutions for modern and contemporary art. It is the same place where Roy Lichtenstein back in 1977 first presented and signed his Art Car.

In the spirit of Calder, Stella, Lichtenstein, Warhol, BMW announced this year that the 17th Art Car created by Jeff Koons will race where the first rolling pieces of art by legendary artists raced – at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 12-13, 2010. Koons' canvas is a BMW M3 GT2, which was homologated to compete at this year's running of the world's most famous endurance race.

On June 2, between 11 am to 9 pm, the public will have the chance to see the Art Car free of charge in the Forum of the Centre Pompidou. At 5.30 pm Jeff Koons will participate in a book signing at the official book store of the museum before he will talk about his work in conversation wîth Alain Seban, President of the Centre Pompidou, at 6 pm at the Forum of the museum.

The Design Process As part of his creative process, the artist collected images of race cars, related graphics, vibrant colors, speed and explosions. The resulting artwork of bright colors conceived by Koons is evocative of power, motion and bursting energy. Its silver interior along wîth the powerful exterior design, the Art Car will impart a dynamic appearance even when it's standing still.

'These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy,' said Koons. 'You can participate wîth it, add to it and let yourself transcend wîth its energy. There is a lot of power under that hood and I want to let my ideas transcend wîth the car – it's really to connect wîth that power'.

Koons has been in an intense collaboration wîth BMW's team in Munich for months – melding his skill wîth sophisticated BMW engineering – to ensure that the 17th BMW Art Car will be race-ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Traveling back and forth to Germany many times since the February 2 announcement that Koons would create the 17th BMW Art Car, the artist has worked wîth the BMW engineering and design teams to conduct in-depth explorations of materials and application options that will prove crucial to optimizing both the aesthetic and aerodynamic attributes of the race car. Working wîth actual 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) models of the BMW M3 GT2, Koons could simulate the application of the graphic to the car's surfaces and evaluate it from all angles.

Koons even donned a helmet and joined BMW's Rahal Letterman Racing Team for testing in Sebring, Florida, on February 23. Koons was able to experience the M3 GT2 at race speed to further inspire his design. As Koons describes it, he witnessed 'the raw unfiltered performance' of the M3 GT2 from the seat of a historic BMW M1 race car. Koons also drove a BMW M3 Coupe on the circuit to further the dynamic exercise.

Únder Koons' direct guidance and supervision, his BMW Art Car was produced in assistance wîth a team of BMW engineers and designers at Schmid Design, (ORT), Bavaria. The challenge to create the BMW Art Car had to do wîth using a light material and a design that would not interfere wîth the racecar's aerodynamics and weight. Timing was also an issue, as there was only a two month window between the first design sketches and the Paris world premiere. This is why digital print on car wrapping vinyl was used covered by a double clear-coating to bring out the color. To apply hundreds of dynamic lines of Koons' design onto the car, CAD designs were translated from 3D into 2D for the printing process and then painstakingly applied to the entire car as well as onto individual spare parts. Koons design incorporates many bright contrasting colors to communicate the aesthetics of power. The concept design was transformed into hard eged lines of color. Graphics of debris were added to the rear sides and back of the car to similute the power of the car. Furthermore, two graphic rings on the rear of the car represent supersonic acceleration.

Koons and BMW

The germination of Koons' collaboration wîth BMW began in 2003, when he expressed his desire to create a BMW Art Car. His relationship wîth BMW started more than two decades ago when he drove a BMW while residing in Munich, home to the BMW Group headquarters. Koons is known for his heartfelt appreciation of cars. Earlier this year he was even recognized by music icon Bono of Ú2 as one of the ideal artists to design a car that would make the world fall in love wîth automobiles again.

Koons' creative process for the BMW Art Car mirrors techniques, some borrowed from transportation design and development, which he regularly employs for his artistic production. For example, in the creation of Koons' monumental sculptures, his studio uses 3-D CAD models to evaluate the surfaces, assembles them via methods found in bike chop shops, and paints them in a manner based on sophisticated automotive painting techniques.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans race

In April 2010, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen announced the driver line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE) will race the BMW Art Car #79. Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR), Úwe Alzen (DE) will drive the BMW Le Mans car #78.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest endurance race in all of sports car racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, Sarthe, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance, it is organized by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and runs on a circuit containing closed public roads. The race is designed not only to test a car and driver's ability to be quick, but also to last over a 24-hour period.

French auctioneer and racing driver Hervé Poulain first had the idea of asking an artist to paint the car he himself would compete with. Taking up this initiative in 1975, American artist Alexander Calder painted a BMW racing car, thus laying the foundation. The Art Car experiment was soon continued: a year later, Calder Art Car co-driver Sam Posey introduced Frank Stella to the idea of BMW Art Cars when the New York-based artist covered a BMW wîth his typical grid-like pattern. Stella's work was followed by a series of celebrated pop artists: Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Apart from Rauschenberg's Art Car, all these took part in the Le Mans 24-hour race, some of them enjoying remarkable success.

The BMW M3 GT2

Derived from the BMW M3 high-performance sports car, the BMW M3 GT2 boasts a 4.0-liter V8 engine wîth a maximum output of 500 bhp, an upgraded chassis, racing-caliber brakes, and extensive use of lightweight materials. Able to reach 100 mph in 3.4 seconds, the BMW M3 GT2 is rapidly emerging as a real first year contender at this year's event.

For the Comeback at 24 Le Mans BMW Motorsport is supported by numerous successful partners. This is why the BMW M3 GT2 will be labeled wîth the logos of Castrol, Crowne Plaza, Dunlop, Randstad, Sympatex, LuK, H&R, BBS and NGK for the race on the 'Circuit de la Sarthe'.

BMW Art Cars

Vital Stats

7-speed Manual
Since 1975, artists from throughout the world have turned BMW automobiles into art signifying a particular period through the Art Car program. In 2007, the latest installment was revealed wîth Olafur Eliasson's 'Your mobile expectations: BMW H2R project.' Many of the cars by the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Stella, Rauschenberg, Hockney and Holzer have been exhibited in renowned museums throughout the world including the Louvre, the Guggenheim Museums, and the Shanghai Art Museum. They have been displayed at the BMW Museum in Munich, between 2006 and 2010 and many went on a world tour throughout Asia, Russia, Africa, India, the Únited States and Mexico. The Koons car number, '79,' pays tribute to the 1979 Andy Warhol car. The Warhol car was assigned the number '76,' an homage to the 1976 Frank Stella car, both of which raced at Le Mans.

The home of all BMW Art Cars is the BMW Museum in Munich. Starting in September, Koons' 17th BMW Art Car will be presented there together wîth some of its predecessors.

With over 100 major projects worldwide, BMW Group cultural programs have been an integral part of the company's contributions to society for almost 40 years. Besides contemporary art, architecture and design, classical music and jazz are key components of this engagement.

The BMW Group


The BMW Group is one of the most successful manufacturers of automobiles and motorcycles in the world wîth its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 24 production facilities in 13 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

The BMW Group achieved a global sales volume of approximately 1.29 million automobiles and over 87,000 motorcycles for the 2009 financial year. The pre-tax profit for 2009 was euro 413 million, revenues totalled euro 50.68 billion. At 31 December 2009, the company employed a global workforce of approximately 96,000 associates. The success of the BMW Group has always been built on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy. As a result of its efforts, the BMW Group has been ranked leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the last five years.

Source - BMW

The 17th BMW Art Car will race at 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Le Mans. On June 12 at three in the afternoon the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans will officially begin. A highlight will surely be the participation of the Jeff Koons' 17th BMW Art Car which has been presented in Paris just a week before. In April 2010, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen announced the driver line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE) will race the BMW Art Car #79. Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR), Úwe Alzen (DE) will drive the BMW Le Mans car #78.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest endurance race in all of sports car racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, Sarthe, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance, it is organized by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and runs on a circuit containing closed public roads. The race is designed not only to test a car and driver's ability to be quick, but also to last over a 24-hour period.

The BMW M3 GT2Derived from the BMW M3 high-performance sports car, the BMW M3 GT2 boasts a 4.0-liter V8 engine wîth a maximum output of 500 bhp, an upgraded chassis, racing-caliber brakes, and extensive use of lightweight materials. Able to reach 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds, the BMW M3 GT2 is rapidly emerging as a real first year contender at this year's event.

For the Comeback at 24 Le Mans BMW Motorsport is supported by numerous successful partners. This is why the BMW M3 GT2 will be labeled wîth the logos of Castrol, Crowne Plaza, Dunlop, Randstad, Sympatex, LuK, H&R, BBS and NGK for the race on the 'Circuit de la Sarthe'.

The 17th BMW Art Car by Jeff Koons

At the premiere of the 17th BMW Art Car Jeff Koons unveiled and signed his car in front of 300 international VIP guests on June 1 in the Centre Pompidou, one of the world's most prestigious cultural institutions for modern and contemporary art. It is the same place where Roy Lichtenstein back in 1977 first presented and signed his Art Car.

In the spirit of Calder, Stella, Lichtenstein, Warhol, BMW announced this year that the 17th Art Car created by Jeff Koons will race where the first rolling pieces of art by legendary artists raced – at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 12-13, 2010. Koons' canvas is a BMW M3 GT2, which was homologated to compete at this year's running of the world's most famous endurance race.

Jeff Koons has announced that he will donate his fee from BMW (two BMW cars of his choice) for the creation of the Art Car to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, which coordinates a global network of organizations fighting child-sexual exploitation and abduction, and the Koons Family Institute, a resource of ICMEC. Jeff and Justine Koons have announced that if the BMW Art Car wins at Le Mans in its class, they will double the amount of the donation.

The Design Process

As part of his creative process, the artist collected images of race cars, related graphics, vibrant colors, speed and explosions. The resulting artwork of bright colors conceived by Koons is evocative of power, motion and bursting energy. Its silver interior along wîth the powerful exterior design, the Art Car will impart a dynamic appearance even when it's standing still.

The challenge to create the BMW Art Car had to do wîth using a light material and a design that would not interfere wîth the racecar's aerodynamics and weight. Timing was also an issue, as there was only a two month window between the first design sketches and the Paris world premiere. This is why digital print on car wrapping vinyl was used covered by a double clear-coating to bring out the color. To apply hundreds of dynamic lines of Koons' design onto the car, CAD designs were translated from 3D into 2D for the printing process and then painstakingly applied to the entire car as well as onto individual spare parts. Koons design incorporates many bright contrasting colors to communicate the aesthetics of power. The concept design was transformed into hard eged lines of color. Graphics of debris were added to the rear sides and back of the car to simulate the power of the car. Furthermore, two graphic rings on the rear of the car represent supersonic acceleration.

Koons and BMW

The germination of Koons' collaboration wîth BMW began in 2003, when he expressed his desire to create a BMW Art Car. His relationship wîth BMW started more than two decades ago when he drove a BMW while residing in Munich, home to the BMW Group headquarters. Koons is known for his heartfelt appreciation of cars. Earlier this year he was even recognized by music icon Bono of Ú2 as one of the ideal artists to design a car that would make the world fall in love wîth automobiles again.

Koons' creative process for the BMW Art Car mirrors techniques, some borrowed from transportation design and development, which he regularly employs for his artistic production. For example, in the creation of Koons' monumental sculptures, his studio uses 3-D CAD models to evaluate the surfaces, assembles them via methods found in bike chop shops, and paints them in a manner based on sophisticated automotive painting techniques.

BMW Art Cars

Since 1975, artists from throughout the world have turned BMW automobiles into art signifying a particular period through the Art Car program. In 2007, the latest installment was revealed wîth Olafur Eliasson's 'Your mobile expectations: BMW H2R project.' Many of the cars by the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Stella, Rauschenberg, Hockney and Holzer have been exhibited in renowned museums throughout the world including the Louvre, the Guggenheim Museums, and the Shanghai Art Museum. They have been displayed at the BMW Museum in Munich, between 2006 and 2010 and many went on a world tour throughout Asia, Russia, Africa, India, the Únited States and Mexico. The Koons car number, '79,' pays tribute to the 1979 Andy Warhol car. The Warhol car was assigned the number '76,' an homage to the 1976 Frank Stella car, both of which raced at Le Mans.

The home of all BMW Art Cars is the BMW Museum in Munich. Starting in September, Koons' 17th BMW Art Car will be presented there together wîth some of its predecessors.

With over 100 major projects worldwide, BMW Group cultural programs have been an integral part of the company's contributions to society for almost 40 years. Besides contemporary art, architecture and design, classical music and jazz are key components of this engagement.

The BMW Group


The BMW Group is one of the most successful manufacturers of automobiles and motorcycles in the world wîth its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 24 production facilities in 13 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.

The BMW Group achieved a global sales volume of approximately 1.29 million automobiles and over 87,000 motorcycles for the 2009 financial year. The pre-tax profit for 2009 was euro 413 million, revenues totalled euro 50.68 billion. At 31 December 2009, the company employed a global workforce of approximately 96,000 associates. The success of the BMW Group has always been built on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy. As a result of its efforts, the BMW Group has been ranked leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for the last five years.

Source - BMW

Le Mans 24 Hours – 17th BMW Art Car. Jeff Koons: 'These race cars are like gladiators.'

Le Mans, 14th June 2010. BMW brought a tradition back to life when it lined up at the 78th staging of the Le Mans 24 Hours (FR) wîth an elaborately designed Art Car. American artist Jeff Koons' BMW M3 GT2 Art Car really caught the eye in France.

While the no. 78 BMW M3 GT2, wîth drivers Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR) and Úwe Alzen (DE), finished sixth in the LM GT2 class, the BMW Art Car, wîth Dirk Werner (DE), Dirk Müller (DE) and Andy Priaulx (GB) at the wheel, had to retire early.

Despite this, Koons drew a very positive conclusion from the endurance classic at the 'Circuit de la Sarthe', as he reveals in this interview.

Mr Koons, unfortunately the Le Mans 24 Hours didn't go the way all BMW fans had hoped for wîth the BMW Art Car. Did you still enjoy the experience?

Jeff Koons: 'This race has been a very invigorating experience. It's amazing to see the commitment of all the people involved. The fans sleep in tents and stay awake for far more than 24 hours to celebrate this event. This has me really going, as I understand that it is something truly special for all the people to be here. It's unfortunate that the BMW M3 GT2 Art Car had to retire early, but it's part of racing.'

Do you feel for the team you got to know well over the course of the Art Car project?


Koons: 'Yes, I would have loved to see the team win, but it wasn't to be. I know how committed they are and how much precision and care they put into their work. Of course we would have loved to see the car win. I would love to give it another chance and have it compete again.'

Power and dynamics are just two of the catchwords in motor racing. Do these terms also appear in the sphere of modern arts?

Koons: 'Yes, there are many parallels. Everything is a metaphor for human life. If we build machines, it's all metaphoric for our own bodies. These race cars are like gladiators out there. They are performing wîth full power and full impact.'

Úsually you create pieces of art that are made to last. The BMW M3 GT2 Art Car, however, went out into a fight against rivals on the track. Was this a new experience for you to see your art in danger?

Koons: 'That was really interesting for me and obviously a part of it. This project has felt so special to me, and working on it reminded me of human history. A history that you can trust the most is almost a biological narrative, it's our DNA. From the beginning of time to now. What people experience here is that life doesn't go so much through its physical form, but through the experience that is generated within people.'

Source - BMW

The story of an exception: the BMW M3 is 25.

The anticipation began in August 1985. That summer Germany's automobile magazines built up their readers' expectations for the fastest 3 Series BMW of all times. The key data revealed a sports car that would punch way above its class: 200 hp, top speed in excess of 230 km/h, sprint from a standing start to 100 km/h inside 6.7 seconds. However, the story was that 'the most dynamic BMW 3 Series drivers' would have to wait until mid-1986. The pundits were right on that count. But one prediction missed the mark by a mile: anyone who 'wants to be in the A Team needs to be turbocharged under the bonnet'. Not true.

The BMW M3 became the most successful touring car in motor-sport history. 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.

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. The rated speed for the road version of the BMW M3 was still significantly below the critical range at 6,750/min and therefore offered sufficient scope for further developments.

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.'

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
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