The new BMW 3 Series that reigning champion Colin Turkington will drive in this year’s British Touring Car Championship has been revealed.
Multiple title-winning squad West Surrey Racing will run three of the new machines in this year’s BTCC, with Turkington joined by rising star Tom Oliphant in the Team BMW racing line-up, and 2012 champion Andrew Jordan racing under the BMW Pirtek Racing banner.
The new 330i M Sport race car is based on the recently launched new model, but uses the underpinnings from the 125i M Sport cars WSR ran last year. It returns the 3 Series to the championship for the first time since 2012.
The two Team BMW cars will be run in the Bavarian firm's classic BMW M Motorsport colours. Graeme Grieve, BMW's UK boss, said: "The 3 Series is our best-selling model worldwide, and to bring it back to the grid clothed in the classic M Motorsport colours is very special indeed. We are all very excited to see what it can do.”
BMW has a long history in the BTCC, with many of its highlights coming when fielding 3 Series models. Five drivers have claimed the overall BTCC title driving a 3 Series: Frank Sytner in 1988, Will Hoy in 1991, Tim Harvey in 1993, Joachim Winkelhock in 1993 and Turkington in 2009.
WSR switched from the 3 Series to the 125i M Sport in 2013, with Turkington adding titles in 2014 and last season. Under current BTCC regulations, all cars must use turbocharged 2.0-litre engines, mated to a six-speed sequential shift gearbox. A series of common and control parts are used.
WSR boss Dick Bennetts said preparing the trio of 330i M Sport cars in time for testing was a "Herculean effort", adding: "The attention-to-detail that has gone into the build is second-to-none."
Turkington said: “I know how hard everybody at BMW and West Surrey Racing has worked to pull everything together over such a short space of time, and to now see this car in the garage and ready to take to the track is a source of immense pride, satisfaction and a job well done."