TEAM BMW heralds a new era for BMW UK in the 2017 British Touring Car Championship
A further chapter in BMW’s illustrious history in touring car racing unfolded on 24 February as BMW UK, in partnership with West Surrey Racing (WSR), announced a three-car team that will again bid for victory of the 2017 British Touring Car Championship.
The announcement of TEAM BMW is a landmark occasion, marking BMW’s return to the country’s best-watched motor race series as a manufacturer team. It has been 21 years since the marque last contested the series in this manner, when BMW Team Schnitzer fielded a BMW 320i line-up.
Graeme Grieve, CEO of BMW Group UK, commented: “The BTCC is one of the most significant race series in the UK and has a huge and enthusiastic following. With a history of success and the continuous support of WSR for the past decade, we are delighted to step up as a Manufacturer Team again after 21 years.”
BMW UK’s significant financial investment in the BTCC team includes the funding of technical developments on all fronts, focused on the very latest BMW engine derivative.
At the launch at BMW Park Lane, London, Graeme Grieve joined WSR Team Principal, Dick Bennetts, to unveil one of the three BMW 125i M Sport team cars that will contest the 2017 BTCC. With the cars freshly-developed, prepared and run again by WSR, BMW’s return to the series as a manufacturer coincides with a further landmark, marking a decade since WSR first contested the BTCC with BMW, which has endured to this day.
The BMW relationship with Dick Bennetts’ Sunbury-based operation in the BTCC was established in 2007, where they claimed both the Independent Drivers and Teams Championships. They repeated the feat in 2008 and went on to take the overall BTCC Drivers’ title in 2009, and added a driver and team double crown in 2014.
Significantly, the driver roll of honour for each of the three BTCC Independent, Overall and Teams Championship victories fell to Northern Ireland’s Colin Turkington.
Turkington has spent nine of his 12 BTCC seasons with the WSR-BMW team, during which he scored 26 wins over five seasons. Andrew Jordan joins Turkington, the 2013 BTCC Overall Drivers Champion and three-time Independent Drivers Champion. Completing the trio is Rob Collard, a BTCC followers’ favourite and the Series’ legendary overtaker who, after his most competitive season to date in 2016, marks the tenth consecutive year he has driven a BMW in the BTCC, the last seven with WSR.
The series commences at the opening rounds at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on 1-2 April 2017.