BMW's greatest cars, 1927-1999
The 1994 season was less successful as Alfa Romeo stole a march on its rivals with its aerodynamically superior 155 TS. It was mid-season before BMW caught up with its own trick aero kit and the championship was out of reach by then, despite a slew of wins from Soper and Winkelhock.
Schnitzer withdrew to focus on other racing projects in 1995 and the season was a difficult one, with BMW UK failing to win a single race. In 1996, Schnitzer returned with Winkelhock and fellow tin-top racing legend Roberto Ravaglia claiming five wins. With BMW turning its focus the Le Mans and sportscar racing, that was the end of its first golden era in the British Touring Car Championship.
The comeback began in 2007, when West Surrey Racing (WSR) entered two distinctive orange examples of the 320si Super 2000 car under the Team RAC banner. Colin Turkington claimed pole position for the team in its first race at Brands Hatch, but the first win - BMW’s 42nd – had to wait until mid-season at Croft. Win number 50 was achieved by the same driver at the same circuit a year later.
A combination of the BTCC's switch to a three-race format and the rear-wheel-drive BMW’s enduring competitiveness against myriad opposition has meant the second 50 victories have come much more quickly than the first - 35 years for wins 1-50 against just nine years for 51 to 100.
Turkington has proven himself the stand-out performer in recent seasons. Champion in 2009 (in a Team RAC 320i) and 2014 (in an eBay Motors 125i M Sport), he has racked up 28 of BMW’s wins, so it was apt he claimed the 100th at Thruxton last Sunday.
One anomaly remains about BMW’s win haul in the BTCC. During a fraught 1983 season, Frank Sytner’s 635CSi battled for race wins against a gaggle of Rover Vitesses. Many months later, the Rovers were disqualified from the championship entirely for technical infringements. By rights, then, Sytner’s BMW could have been declared winner of as many as five races. However, while the Rovers were expunged from the end-of-season points records, it is unclear whether they were removed from individual race results. The season caused so much rancour at the time that few BTCC sages choose to dredge it up again…
As for the current day, with the Power Maxed Racing team still finding its feet with its new Vauxhall Astras, the onus is on Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo Ford Focuses, Halfords Yuasa Racing and Eurotech Honda Civics and Team BMW and BMW Pirtek 125i M Sports to add to their manufacturer's respective winning tallies in the BTCC. However, even with the three-races-per-weekend format, BMW would need to win every race for the next five seasons to catch up with Ford in the overall rankings…
BMW’s 100 BTCC victories
1 Silverstone 1973 Brian Muir (BMW 3.0 CSL)
2 Silverstone 1973 Derek Bell/Harald Ertl (BMW 3.0 CSL)
3 Brands Hatch 1973 Brian Muir (BMW 3.0 CSL)
4 Oulton Park 1978 Tom Walkinshaw (BMW 530i)
5 Oulton Park 1984 James Weaver (BMW 635CSi)
6 Silverstone 1985 Frank Sytner (BMW 635CSi)