BMW E30 M3 DTM

BMW E30 M3: Racing History and Specifications

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The BMW E30 M3 is an icon for every motorsport lover and the jewel in the crown of BMW Motorsport. As a tribute, the aim of this article is to offer you the most extensive content ever made.

In the first part, we will dive into the car’s development story with its different versions while the second part will cover its achievements in racing that are now part of motorsports history.

BMW E30 M3 DTM Steve Soper
Table Of Contents

According to the legend, the chairman of the BMW board management at that time, Eberhard von Kuenheim, gave the instruction of developing a sport version of the successful 3 Series. The man in charge of this project would be Paul Rosche, Technical Director of BMW M GmbH. What we know today as BMW Motorsport.

The project consisted of designing a Group A race car first, to lately add the features and comfort of a daily-use car. BMW M had only produced three models before: the M1, the E12 M535i and the M635 CSi. Moreover, Paul Rosche was the father of the BMW M12 Turbo engine, the powerplant that powered Piquet’s Brabham to its 1983 F1 title. 

Surprisingly, the engine was prepared in only two weeks. And I’m sure you may be thinking that they just took parts from previous models and put them together for the new engine. And that’s exactly what they did.

BMW E30 M3 SPECIFICATIONS

BMW S14 M3 ENGINE

BMW S14 E30 M3 engine
©BMW

The S14 engine was designed keeping in mind its application in motorsport. The 4-cylinder block was taken from the M10 engine, which they also used as a base to develop the M12 Turbo for F1. 

On the other side, the four valve-head was taken from an M88/S38 engine after cutting off two cylinders. This was possible due to the same distance between cylinders in the M10 and the M88/S88. The M88 was the 6-cylinder engine used by the BMW M1, another BMW Motorsport masterpiece designed for racing. The last step was to increase the engine capacity to 2.3 litres. 

You may be asking yourself why BMW Motorsport didn’t use a 6-cylinder or a turbocharged engine considering the experience and technology that they had available. And as you, many people made that question at that time, and this is what Paul Rosche explained:

“The M3 was primarily developed for motorsport purposes. It is a production racer of which we must build 5000 units within twelve consecutive months. Of course, BMW could have fitted a 6-cylinder engine, but in the end, we opted for the 4-cylinder unit based on the successful Formula 1 powerplant. This motor is not only lighter and more compact than a six, but it also provides us with a notably higher potential rev limit, vital when it comes to preparing the competition variants. While the power curve of the catalyst-equipped version peaks at 7100rpm, the race-spec engine will happily rev to 9000rpm.”

To summarize, the first technical reason was to reduce weight. And the second is that the crankshaft vibrations in the 6-cylinder were higher at high speeds than they were at the smaller option. 

Regarding the decision of using an atmospheric engine instead of a turbo charged, Rosche decided to not implement a turbo this time influenced by the Group A regulations. Unfortunately, the integration of a technically demanding and sophisticated turbocharger system was not compatible at that time with the idea of a daily-use car. 

During the production years of the S14 powerplant, BMW Motorsport built four different versions of the engine.

S14B23

The S14B23 was the “standard” version. A total capacity of 2,302cc litre with a bore of 93.4mm and a stroke of 84mm. The maximum engine speed of the road version was set pretty far from its limit, at 6750rpm with 200hp (DIN) without catalyst. The variation equipped with twin in-line catalytic converters produced 195hp (DIN).This would be the only version available for the North American and Japanese markets

In April of 1989. With the new Cecotto/Ravaglia editions, BMW M increased the power to 215hp (DIN) with catalyst. This increase was possible due to a reprogramming of the Bosch Digital Motor Electronics (DME). Since September 1989, this was the standard version for the European-spec E30 M3.

S14B20

This 2.0l with 189hp version was launched only for the Portuguese and Italian markets to avoid an increase in taxes.

S14B23 EVO 2

BMW S14 Evo 2 E30 M3 EVOII engine
©BMW

Introduced in March of 1988, this was the most powerful version of the S14 2.3l with 220hp (DIN). The new pistons raised its compression from 10:5.1 to 11:1 (without catalyst). The air intake was more efficient, the flywheel was lighter, and the engine was reprogrammed. You can recognize them easily under the hood due to its characteristic white colour with the traditional tri-colour M stripes.

S14B25 EVO 3

©Duncan Ireland

Exclusively used in the 1990 BMW E30 M3 Sport Evolution, this is the final version. This edition increased its bore to 95mm to reach the 2.467cc. Other new features were enlarged valves and a more aggressive cam and special nozzles spraying oil under the pistons for keeping them cool. Catalytic converters were also included in this version. With power increased to 238hp (DIN) at 7,000rpm, this engine is characteristic for its red spark plugs wires over a regular black cam cover.

TRANSMISSION

The transmission is a Getrag 265/5 dogleg and a hydraulically operated clutch with bonded lining. The box was a 5 gear close-ratio with the first gear is at the bottom left as it used to be in old school racing. Japanese and North American versions are equipped with a Getrag 260 with a standard “H” pattern shared with the E30 325i.

CHASSIS 

The M3 chassis is the same McPherson strut/semi-trailing arm design used on the E30 stock models. However, the E30 3 Series are cars that suffer from twitchy handling and lack of traction when driven to its limit. Therefore, at BMW Motorsport it was clear that the chassis required some work. 

One of the first proposed solutions was to equip four-wheel-drive hardware. But the solution was discarded due to its weight and fragility for the 320hp race-spec version. 

Thomas Ammerschläger was the person in charge of the suspension. Its work consisted of a complete redesign of the front suspension, stiffer front and rear anti-roll bars linked to the struts, thicker 19mm rear anti-roll bar, uprated springs (shortened by 6mm) and dampers, and a recalibrated power steering quicker and more precise.

The M3 was also equipped with “box flared” fenders to accommodate a wider track, with wider and taller wheels and tires up to 10″ wide racing rims supplied by BBS. It also had three times the caster angle of any other E30 3 Series model in order to enhance the straight-line stability and the steering response. Larger wheel bearings were also equipped.

To improve the weight distribution the battery was transferred from the engine compartment into the trunk. With some more reinforcement material, the front-to-rear axle load proportion resulted in 52/48 percent.

1986 BMW E30 M3

BRAKES

The E30 M3’s brakes system was equipped with thicker large-diameter discs (ventilated at the front, solid at the rear)and heftier and reinforced single-piston callipers taken from the BMW E28 5 Series. This brakes system worked together with a specially developed Bosch ABS system.

BODY

In order to improve aerodynamics, the cabin profile was altered with a larger and more steeply raked rear screen. Moreover, both front and rear windscreens were bonded to increase rigidity. The trunk lid sits over 1.5-inches higher than the normal E30 3 Series.

Regarding the body parts, the M3 shares just its bonnet with the 3 Series stock model. The front and rear fascias contain unique 2.5-mph bumpers. A raised rear deck and prominent wing were also added. All the aerodynamic refinements, deep front air dam, bumpers, and extended side sills, were fabricated from SMC composite. As a result, all these new features together improved the drag coefficient from 0.39 to 0.33.

COCKPIT

1986 BMW E30 M3 interior

The inside included adjustable Recaro seats, a 260kmh (160mph) speedometer, and 8000rpm tach, separated by a Motorsport logo. Individually contoured rear seats, tinted glass, and electric door mirrors were standard while air conditioning, electric windows, an electrically operated sunroof, and full leather trim were optional.

Regarding the steering wheel, BMW offered two designs for the cars that did not have equipped a driver-side airbag. The M-Technic I, built until September 1989, with a slimmer hub and the M tri-color stripe on the center spoke. The M-Technic II steering wheel, with a thicker rim and the M logo on the central spoke, was used after.

The shift knob is leather and includes an M stripe with the “dogleg” shift pattern (European-spec) or the standard “H” configuration (North American-spec). The parking brake handle boot, unique to the M3, is also leather. Moreover, all M3s were equipped with the check control vehicle monitoring system above the interior rearview mirror.

The standard BMW E30 M3 has a top speed of 230kmh (143mph) with the catalytic converter and 235kmh (146) without it, and fuel consumption around 9 litres per 100km.

As you can imagine, such a performance had a price, and not cheap. The M3 started in 1986 with a price of DM58,000 ($30,000). This is DM14,700 more in comparison with the most expensive version of the 3 Series, the BMW 325i convertible. However, BMW had no problem selling the required 5,000 units. In 1987, the customers finally received their units after a family picture of them all at the Münich-Freimann BMW parking.

Through the 5 years and a half that the M3 was in production, BMW Motorsport developed a total of 7 different coupe versions. Four standard models including European-spec without catalyst and 200hp (DIN), European-spec with catalyst and 195hp (DIN) first and 215hp (DIN) later, and the North American-spec with catalyst and 192hp (SAE). And the remaining three versions correspond to the M3 Evolution I, M3 Evolution II, and the M3 Sport Evolution.

On the other side, BMW M also launched additional special editions to commemorate diverse achievements in motorsport: the M3 Tour de Corse (only for the French market), M3 Europameister, and the M3 Cecotto/Ravaglia editions. Finally, four M3 cabriolet versions were produced as well from 1988 to 1991.

For the Japanese market, all the E30 M3 equipped the 195hp engine with a catalyst. Until 1987, the Japanese-market M3 was produced with the European-spec dogleg gearbox. While from 1988, they would share the gearbox of the North American-spec.

BMW E30 M3 LIMITED EDITIONS AND SPECS

BMW E30 M3 Road and Racing versions
BMW E30 M3 Road and Racing versions – ©BMW

1986 BMW E30 M3 Standard European-Spec

Engine:S14 B23 M-Power, cast iron inline four cylinder inline, 16 valve DOHC aluminum cylinder head. Displacement 2302 CC, Bore and stroke 93,4 X 84,0 mm, Compression ratio 10.5 : 1, Bosch ML Motronic Injection system.
Transmission:Rear-wheel drive front engine. Final drive ratio 3.25:1, 25 Percent differential lock, Five-speed manual gearbox, Gear ratios 1st:3.72 2nd 2.40 3rd 1.77 4th 1.26 5th 1.00 Reverse 4.23:1.
Suspension:Mcpherson, coil springs, and BOGE gas shock absorbers in front and rear suspension consisted of coil springs and BOGE gas shock absorbers.
Steering:Rack and pinion 19.6:1 power-assisted
Brakes:Power-assisted 284mm ventilated rotors front, 250mm rotors rear, ABS.
Wheels:BBS 7.0 X 15 aluminum rims with 205/55 VR 15 tires front and back.
Dimensions:Length 4360mm, Width 1675mm, Height 1365, Axle distance 2562mm. Weight 1200 Kg.

1986 BMW E30 M3 North American-Spec

Engine:192 HP at 6750 rpm, 230 NM at 4750 rpm. Catalytic converter.
Transmission:Final drive 4.10:1
Gear ratios:1st 3.38 2nd 2.20 3rd 1.40 4th 1.00 5th 0.81 Reverse 3.46:1
Weight:1302 Kg (about 2900 lb)

1988 BMW E30 M3 Europameister Special Edition

1988 BMW E30 M3 Europameister Special Edition

Due to a very successful 1988 campaign in European motorsport, BMW celebrated its triumphs launching a limited edition of 148 units. The M3 Europameister was based on the standard 1986 M3 with catalyst and 195hp. The differences are mainly optional features added as standards such as 7.5×16-inch alloy wheels, green-tinted windshield stripe, and power windows. You can also identify the M3 Europameister by its special plaque on the center console, signed by Roberto Ravaglia, and with an inscription that reads “Europameister 1988 auf BMW M3”.

1989 BMW E30 M3 Cecotto/Ravaglia Special Edition

1989 BMW E30 M3 Cecotto/Ravaglia Special Edition
©BMW

Like other special Editions, the Cecotto/Ravaglia M3 was launched to celebrate the success of these two BMW drivers. The model was equipped with the 215hp S14B23 that would be equipped since then in the standard-spec. The engine is easily recognizable in this version by its red valve cover. There was no mechanical variation in this version compared with the standard-spec while there were some body features taken from the M3 Evolution II. Front and rear spoilers, thinner rear window glass, chrome tailpipes, and 7.5×16-inch alloy wheels. However, this version didn’t replace the fog lights for brake cooling ducts. As always, this Special Edition was equipped with a distinctive centre console plaque signed by Johnny Cecotto or Roberto Ravaglia (only for the UK market).

Engine:215 HP at 6750 rpm, 230 NM at 4600 rpm, Three way catalytic converter
Styling:Extended front spoiler (as with EvoII), Ravaglia models also sported Double bladed rear wing. Offered in Nogaro Silver and Misano Red. The valve cover and plenum were painted in the same color as the car, lightened trunk lid (by 22 lb.)
Interior:On-Board Computer, heated windshield, Illuminated gearknob, Door sill plates with “M3” logo, Front electric Windows, Headlamp leveling system, cassette holder, and Motorsport design cloth interior.
Wheels:BBS 7.5 X 16 cross-spoke wheels with black painted centers, 225/45 ZR 16 tires front and back.

1987 BMW E30 M3 Evolution I 

BMW developed the first evolution of the E30 M3 to homologate some minor improvements that made its race-spec more competitive. The changes consisted mainly of a revised cylinder head that you can distinguish by an “E” cast on it, a bigger front spoiler, and a double-bladed rear wing. A total of 505 were produced in order to pass the homologation requirement to use it in competition.

Engine:200 HP with no Cat (center resonator)
Transmission:5-speed close-ration gearbox
Body:Bigger front spoiler, double-bladed rear wing.

1988 BMW E30 M3 Tour de Corse Special Edition

The M3 Tour the Course is a Limited Edition based in the M3 Evo I commemorating the victory at the 1987 Tour de Corse Rally by the French drivers’ Bernard Beguin and Jean-Jacques Lenne. Only 40 units were produced in exclusivity for the French market.

Each Tour de Course is equipped with central locking, power sunroof, power windows, headlight washer and wipers, interior headlight aim adjustment, on-board computer, and velour floor mats. While the additional distinguishable features added by BMW France are: 7.5×16-inch cross-spoke alloy wheels, an M footrest, door sill plates with the “M3” logo, and tri-color M stripe lapels on each seat. Moreover, you can recognize this M3 Limited Edition by its “Tour de Corse” badges on the grille and on the left side of the trunk lid, and by the plaque signed by the rally drivers Bernard Beguin and Jean-Jacques Lenne on the center console.

1988 BMW E30 M3 Evolution II

First of all, it is important to mention that this model is officially known as M3 Evolution. The reason is that BMW does not consider the 1987 M3 Evo as a separate edition but a slight variation of the Standard version. Therefore, we can easily understand that this evolution was a major upgrade.

The main change of the M3 Evo 2 is the new version of the S14 engine. As explained before, the S14B23 Evo 2 is recognizable for its white cover with the tri-color M stripes. But apart from the cosmetic change, the update consisted of engine reprogramming, lightened flywheel, an improved air intake, and new pistons increasing the compression from 10.5:1 to 11:1. Without a catalytic converter, the new S14 increased its power to 220hp (DIN) and 181lb/ft of torque.

The transmission remained unchanged except for a reduced final drive from 3.25:1 to 3.15:1 in the gearbox. Moreover, the optional (in the standard version) 7.5×16-inch alloy wheels with 225/45ZR16 tires were now included as standard to the M3 Evolution II. 

Visually, you can recognize the E30 M3 Evolution II by its deeper front airdam, an additional lip in the rear wing, and the foglights replaced by brake cooling ducts. Finally, a thinner window glass, and lightened trunk lid and bumpers, reduced the weight by 10 kilograms. 

Engine:S14 Evo M-Power, Compression ratio 11.0:1. 220 HP at 6750 rpm, 181 ft. lbs at 4750 rpm, lightweight flywheel.
Final drive:3.15:1
Styling:Front spoiler extension, double-bladed rear wing, Macao Blue, Nogaro Silver and Misano Red, valve cover, and plenum painted in Motorsport colors.
Interior:Silver cloth and silver leather on seats.
Wheels:BBS 7.5 X 16 aluminum rims with 225/45 ZR 16 tires front and back.
Body:Lightweight material in spoilers wings, rear and side glass, bumpers, and trunk lid.

1990 BMW E30 M3 Sport Evolution

1990 BMW E30 M3 Sport Evolution
©HKCarTrader

The Sport Evolution is the final and more radical version of the E30 M3 developed by BMW Motorsport. Once more, the goal was to be more competitive on the track, especially, in the growing DTM.

As in the M3 Evo 2, the M3 Sport Evolution came with a new engine upgrade. This time, under the S14B25 denomination, as the displacement was increased to 2,467cc after increasing the bore to 95mm and adding a long-stroke crank. Other new features were an enlarged cam, more aggressive valves, and special nozzles spraying oil under the pistons for cooling. The result was an increase in power to 238hp (DIN) at 7,000rpm. However, this new version presented a slightly decreased peak of torque (in comparison with the M3 Evo 2) to 177 lb/ft at 4,750rpm. Aesthetically, the new engine is recognizable because of its red spark plug wires in contrast with the black engine cover. The gearbox remained unchanged in comparison with the M3 Evolution II.

Due to homologation reasons, the Sport Evolution integrated new front and rear spoilers with adjustable extensions, wider front fenders, and reprofiled grille slats with sealed gaps. This new M3 version was equipped with a smaller fuel tank and lowered its height by 10mm. Keeping with the weight reduction, features like power windows, sunroofs, on-board computer, and air conditioning were all removed. 

In addition, the Recaro sport seats with integrated headrests, the M Technic II steering wheel, and red seat belts, were included as standard. Finally, “M3” insignias were added to the door sill plates and special Sport Evolution plaques on the centre of the console.

Engine:S14 B25 M-Power, displacement 2467 ccm, bore and stroke 95.0 X 87.0 mm, compression ratio 10.2:1. 238 HP at 7000 rpm, 240 NM at 4750 rpm, red spark plug boots, lightened flywheel, oil squirters for improved piston cooling, sodium-filled exhaust valves, modified camshaft timing, larger inlet valves.
Final drive:3.15:1
Suspension:front end dropped another 10mm
Styling:Adjustable front and rear spoilers. Fog lights were replaced by brake cooling ducts. Colors were Jet Black and Brilliant Red
Interior:M-steering wheel, illuminated gear knob and handbrake lever clad in suede, Motorsport front seats available in leather or Motorsport cloth, Motorsport driver’s footrest, M3 logo on the instep of both doors, a special placard on the interior console
Wheels:BBS 7.5 X 16 aluminum rims with centers painted Nogaro Silver. 225/45 ZR 16 tires front and back.

BMW E30 M3 Group A Specifications

BMW E30 M3 Group A Specifications

Regarding the race-spec, it is important to mention that there was not a standard specification of the race car in all its history. Due to the differences between championships regulations (even under the Group A-spec), evolutions and track necessities, the setup of the M3 varied over time. However, here you can find an approximation of what the BMW E30 M3 used to be in its DTM racing version.

Engine:Displacement:
2332 cc
Bore and Stroke:
94 X 84.0 mm
Compression ratio:
12.0 : 1
Fuel grade:
95 octane unleaded
Power output:
320 HP at 8200 rpm
Torque output:
205 ft lb. at 7000 rpm
Redline:
9300 rpm
Suspension:Front:
Fully adjustable struts made from magnesium with coil-overs, sway bars adjustable from the driver’s seat

Rear:

Fully adjustable with driver’s seat adjustable sway bars.
Brakes:Front:
Ventilated Rotors, 350 mm diameter and a thickness of 32 mm, six-piston caliper

Rear:

Ventilated Rotors, 300 mm diameter, and a thickness of 25.4 mm, four-piston caliper. Two master cylinders to allow bias adjustment from the driver’s seat
Steering:No power assist – manual rack and pinion, with two ratios of 17:1 and 14.7:1
Wheels:Single piece magnesium wheels either 9 X 17 or 9 X 18
Tires were 245/630 – 17/18
Mounted with central locking nut
Transmission:Five or six-speed gearbox depending on the track. (mostly the 5 speed was used by privateer teams, with fewer financial resources.)
Transmission oil cooler
Limited slip differential
Gear ratios (5 speed):
1st 2.337:1, 2nd 1.681:1, 3rd 1.358:1, 4th 1.150:1, 5th 1.000:1, Reverse 2.660:1
Final drives from 3.15: 1 to 5.28: 1
Measurements:Length:
4355 mm
Width:
1680 mm
Height:
1330 mm
Axle Distance:
2565.5 mm
Tire spacing:
1412 mm (front)
Tire spacing:
1424 mm (rear)
Weight:
2072 lbs. (as per DTM rules)
Fuel volume:
110 Litres (29 US gallons)

BMW E30 M3 RACING HISTORY

BMW E30 M3 Racing History

WTCC

1987

For the first time in history, a World Touring Car Championship was held during the 1987 season. Such an event was the perfect scenario to introduce the BMW E30 M3 for the first time in the competition.

Instead of entering the championship with a works team, BMW Motorsport decided to give support to some private teams such as Linder, Schnitzer, Zackspeed, CiBiEmme, and Bigazzi. At the wheel, some of the most illustrious names in touring car racing: Emmanuele Pirro, Christian Danner, Roberto Ravaglia, or Johnny Cecotto among others.

During the previous months to the start, the new championship concept gained popularity among teams and manufacturers. The calendar consisted of 7 races in Europe (including Spa Francorchamps and Nürburgring), plus three more events in Australia (including Bathurst), and one last race at Fuji (Japan).

However, things started to go wrong from the beginning. In order to take advantage of the growing popularity, Bernie Ecclestone (promoter of the championship) decided to set at the last moment a $60,000 entry fee to have the right of receiving points and prizes during the championship. Only 15 participants entered the championship officially.

Going back to BMW, the first race event at Monza was a complete disaster. After winning the race and the first 6 and 8th positions, the E30 M3s were disqualified because its roofs were too thin, and the bonnet material was Kevlar instead of the plastic used in the homologation version of the car.

BMW’s main rivals, the Eggenberger’s Ford Sierra RS Cosworth, were also disqualified after using a Bosch Motronic system instead of the homologated Marelli-Weber EMS. The smartest guy of the class was Andy Rouse, who replaced the Bosch sticker for one from Weber to pass the technical inspection. Unfortunately, he had to retire after blowing up a head gasket.

The following races, without any DQ, were more normal. The Sierra seemed to be faster in one lap, but on Sundays, the more light and efficient M3 was superior. BMW cars won four out of the first five races on the calendar. But this dynamic changed for the 6th round at Brno, where the new Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth demonstrated an important superiority.

The next two races, at Silverstone and Bathurst, showed different results for both title contenders. At Silverstone, BMW won with certain comfort while the RS500s suffered diverse failures. However, at Bathurst, the situation was reversed and the Eggenberger Sierras made a 1-2. Months later, a protest against Ford’s wheel arches, which were bigger than what was allowed, converted the win at the mountain into a DQ. This decision would favour Ravaglia and BMW, who would end up winning the championship.

The last three races were much more equal in terms of speed and performance. The Sierras would win all the remaining races, but always with the BMW’s very close. During the last race at Fuji, once the penalty from Bathurst was applied, Klaus Ludwig (Ford) needed to win the race while Ravaglia needed to finish no better than 3rd to get the championship. And that’s exactly what happened. Ludwig won the Fuji InterTEC 500, Soper with its Sierra was 2nd, and Ravaglia 3rd. However, Rouse was not allowed to get points due to the fact that he entered this race under a different team. Thus, Ravaglia scored points as second and, therefore, became the world champion!

ETCC

1987

Due to the gain in protagonism of the 1987 WTCC, the European championship was seen as a secondary one. However, this didn’t stop the BMW M3 to completely dominate the series. It is also fair to say that, in difference with the WTCC, the competition at the ETCC wasn’t that fierce.

Winfried Vogt (Linder Rennsport) was the new champion after winning more races than any other driver during that season. In fact, a total of 6 races out of 7 were won by a BMW M3. Only a victory at Zolder by the Eggenberger’s Ford Sierra RS Cosworth, who only entered a few events, interrupted a quasi perfect season. The second position in the manufacturers’ championship was for Toyota and its Corolla GT AE86, which didn’t score not even one podium during the whole season.

1988 ETCC BMW E30 M3 Bigazzi
©Richard G Hilsden

1988

Once the WTCC disappeared after only one season, the ETCC became again what it used to be. In fact, we can say that this was the continuity of the battle seen at the 1987 WTCC between BMW and Ford. And things seemed to be exactly at the same level at the first race in Monza. Ford won and dominated the race followed by the M3s.

The first half of the season was a monopoly of the Sierras, with BMW winning only one race out of the first 7. But things would change at the most important event of the calendar, the 24h of Spa Francorchamps. And it was the most important event not only for the prestige but also because points scored there were double. 

Roberto Ravaglia won at Spa and at the following race in Zolder, which made it possible for him to become champion in the next race at Silverstone, with still one more race to finish the season. Once again the BMW M3 won the drivers championship with Ford at the top of the manufacturer’s championship.

Sadly, there were no more European championships in 15 years.

DTM

1987

Eric Van de Poele – ©BMW

In 1987 the DTM was still a rising championship, little by little becoming the prime series in Germany. Not all the stars were racing the championship full-time yet, but the entries were increasing in comparison with previous seasons.

The first two races were dominated by the new BMW M3. However, from the third race, the organization decided to balance the weights to equal the competition. After that, the Ford Sierra XR4TI was competitive enough to win races and fight for the championship against BMW. A championship that would end up winning a young Eric van de Poele from the BMW Junior Program, who didn’t win any race during that DTM season.

1988

1988 dTM
©BMW

The 1988 season was very disputed at the DTM. Four different drivers in three different cars arrived at the last race with chances of winning the championship. BMW rivals were a more involved Mercedes with its 190E 2.3, and Ford entering with its Sierra RS500 Cosworth. Stars like Klaus Ludwig, Christian Danner, or Johnny Cecotto also started to compete during the entire DTM season.

By the end of the season, Klaus Ludwig would win the championship with its Sierra RS500 ahead of Roland Asch’ Mercedes. Regarding BMW, we would need to go to the 4th position to find the first M3 driver, Markus Oesterich.

1989

Roberto Ravaglia – ©BMW

After the disappearance of the ETCC, the DTM gained in repercussion and professionalism. The top teams Schnitzer BMW and Eggenberger Ford joined the DTM for another vibrant season of rivalry, but now also including the AMG Mercedes team in the battle. These were the early years of the DTM golden era.

This was a very good year for BMW. The M3 was present in almost all the podiums at the races held during this season. In fact, in the final top 5 standings, three cars were BMW: Soper 5th, Giroix 3rd, and Ravaglia 1st. Actually, all of them had the chance to win the championship at the last race, but it was Ravaglia who once again took the title.

1990

©Adrenalin

This season seemed to be very optimistic for BMW Motorsport. With no Sierras in the grid and with the introduction of the new M3 Sport Evolution, Mercedes seemed to be the only threat for a new title. However, after a very successful tour around the USA, Audi entered its Quattro with a V8 engine and ended up dominating the championship.

Johnny Cecotto managed to arrive at the final race at Hockenheim as the championship leader. However, every hope disappeared at the first curve of the first race when Michael Schumacher crashed into him and took him out of the race. This is still one of the most remembered moments in DTM history.

1991

©DTM

BMW had a promising start with 4 victories in the first 4 races. The E30 M3 remained the same car as the previous season. However, Audi introduced an evolution of its Quattro V8 and dominated again. BMW would win 3 more races only, a total of 7 victories out of 20 during the whole season. For the first time DTM, there was no BMW driver at the top 3 in the final DTM standings.

1992

The last DTM season under Group A regulations was also the last season of the BMW M3. After Audi’s withdrawal of the championship, the 1992 season was a duel between BMW and Mercedes. Unlike BMW, Mercedes kept developing the 190E Evo II and dominated the season. Again, Cecotto was the best BMW driver but like the previous year, its position at the final standings was fourth.

Spa Francorchamps 24h

As you may know, the 24h of Spa Francorchamps is one of the major motorsport events in the world. Despite it’s a GT event nowadays, back in the ‘80s used to be a race for touring cars. BMW is the most successful manufacturer in this race, and without any doubt, the E30 M3 era was the sweetest of them all.

The BMW E30 M3 took part in 6 consecutive editions between 1987 and 1992 achieving the glory every year except 1989 (Ford) and 1991 (Nissan). What’s more, the M3 was in the top 3 every year except in 1991.

It is especially remarkable the 1992 edition when Steve Soper won with its Bigazzi M3 over Van de Poele’s Schnitzer M3 by only half a second. The British driver starred a great comeback during the last laps of the race, to finally overtake Van de Poele at the Bus Stop chicane with only one more lap to go. The podium, as in the first M3’s participation in 1987, was full of only BMW drivers.

Nürburgring 24h

The Nürburgring 24h is held at the old Nordschleife layout and it is the main open endurance event in the world. Here, amateur and professional teams compete together for 24h hours like nowhere else.

As you may expect, this was also a territory dominated by the BMW E30 M3. As in Spa Francorchamps, the M3 won 4 editions out of 6. There was no other winner car between 1989 and 1992.

Wins

WTCC1987
ETCC1987 – 1988
DTM1987 – 1989
Spa Francorchamps 24h1987 – 1988 – 1990 – 1992
Nürburgring 24h1989 – 1990 – 1991 – 1992
Guia Race of Macau1987 – 1988 – 1991 – 1992 – 1993
British Touring Car Championship1988 – 1991
Italian Superturismo1987 – 1989 – 1990 – 1991
Australian Touring Car Championship1987

BMW E30 M3 RALLY

By the end of 1986, the FIA decided to cancel the Group B regulations in Rallies due to its danger and fatal accidents. Since the 1987 season, the FIA used the Group A regulations for rallying, which opened the possibility of many track racing cars of that time to compete in Rallies. This was the case of the E30 M3. In fact, although the M3 was conceived mainly for track racing, the E30 M3 chassis was also an incredible weapon for tarmac rallies. 

1987 Tour de Corse

1987 Tour de Corse

This was the last BMW victory at the World Rally Championship and also the first for Prodrive.  It is considered one of the sweetest victories for BMW Motorsport as evidenced by the fact that they decided to launch a special edition of the BMW M3 to celebrate such an achievement: the M3 Tour de Corse. In a time where the key for a car to be a winner in Rallies was to equip the 4WD technology, Bernard Beguin and Jean-Jacques Lenne achieved one of the last victories for a rear-wheel-drive at the World Rally Championship.

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