The team will race as Team BMW on Turkington and Collard’s cars and as BMW Pirtek Racing for Andrew Jordan’s car.
It’s twenty one years since BMW last entered a manufacturer when the German Schnitzer team ran BMW 320i Super Tourers.
Graeme Grieve, the managing Director of BMW UK, spoke at the launch;
“The BTCC is undeniably the most significant race series in the UK with a huge and enthusiastic following. With a legendary record behind us in the Series’ history books, and partnering continuously with WSR for a decade, we are delighted to step up as a Manufacturer Team again after 21 years. BMW UK’s significant financial investment includes the funding of technical developments on all fronts, focused on the very latest BMW engine derivative.”
At the launch held at BMW Park Lane in London, Graeme Grieve joined WSR boss, Dick Bennetts, to take the wraps off one of the three BMW 125i M Sport team cars that will contest the 2017 BTCC.
With the cars having undergone some major changes over the winter and once again prepared and run by WSR, BMW’s return also coincides with a further anniversary, it’s been ten years since WSR first ran BMW’s in the BTCC starting with two S2000 3 series in 2007.
WSR was successful with BMW from that start, despite earlier S2000 BMW entrants trying and failing to find success, WSR took the independent driver and team’s championships in their first season with the marque. They then repeated the feat in 2008 before winning the overall title in 2009. When the NGTC rules were introduced, the team switched to the 1 series enjoying another drivers title with Colin Turkington and the Team championship too. They won the manufacturer/Constructor title in 2016 running as WSR, a feat which must’ve helped BMW make the decision to make the leap to a full manufacturer entry.
WSR Boss Dick Bennetts remarked: “I reckon that working together successfully as motorsport partners for ten years is the equivalent of a lifelong marriage. It’s a tribute to BMW’s product and commitment, and we are delighted to once again represent the marque as they return with increased commitment as a Manufacturer in the BTCC.”
Colin Turkington has won both of his championships with WSR and returns to the team this season rejoining Rob Collard. Collard was in the running for last year’s title until the final meeting and hopes to be challenging once again in 2017. Andrew Jordan is in a third Pirtek sponsored car which still receives full BMW backing. Jordan also hopes to be in the running for the title along with his team mates despite this being his first season in a rear wheel drive car;
“I’ll learn a lot from my teammates, who have lots of rear-wheel drive experience,” he said. “But we want to move the whole project forward together.”
This now brings the total of Manufacturer supported entries to five, the highest total since the end of the Super Touring era.
The championship commences at the opening rounds at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on April 1st and 2nd . The team’s three cars will also be at the championship launch day at Donington Park on March 16th. By Marc Waller