BMW brings 3 Series back to the grid to defend BTCC titles

BMW brings 3 Series back to the grid to defend BTCC titles

BMW 3 Series NGTC
Image: Nick Moss Design

BMW will bring the 3 Series back to the grid of the British Touring Car Championship in 2019, after confirming that it will return to a saloon model to replace the BMW 125i which WSR has campaigned for the past six years.

The announcement means that the German marque’s best-selling car will once again be on the BTCC grid, with the 3 Series last appearing in the series back in 2012 when it was run by the then-independent WSR team.

The model is one of the most victorious in touring car racing history, and the car secured five Drivers’ and two Manufacturers’ titles between 1988 and 2009. The first came with Frank Sytner in 1988, being followed by Will Hoy (1991), Tim Harvey (1992), Joachim Winkelhock (1993) and Colin Turkington (2009).

The 3 Series has not featured on the BTCC grid since WSR built and developed the 125i M Sport for the 2013 season, with that car going on to secure a further two Drivers’ titles (with Turkington in 2014 and 2018) and three Manufacturers’ titles (2016, 2017 and 2018).

The car will be raced by reigning champion Turkington, new team-mate Tom Oliphant and Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan in the 2019 season.

The 330i has been built to BTCC specifications by WSR to complement the launch of the seventh-generation road-going car in March.

Graeme Grieve, CEO of BMW UK, is excited for the launch of the new car and the coming season in the BTCC.

“The BMW 3 Series has a rich and successful history competing in the BTCC and we are extremely proud to see that tradition continue,” said Grieve.

“This all-new BMW 3 Series is the road-going dynamic benchmark and we have a great track record working with our partners at West Surrey Racing, so 2019 looks set to be a very exciting year for us in the BTCC.”

BMW 3 Series BTCC 2019
Image: Nick Moss Design

WSR Team Principal Dick Bennetts says the team have been hard at work preparing the three new cars during the winter for the season ahead.

“We are delighted to be bringing the BMW 3 Series back to the BTCC,” said the New Zealander. “We achieved a great deal of success with the fifth-generation model between 2007 and 2012, so we are hugely excited to see what the latest version is capable of.

“A lot of hard work and countless hours lie ahead, but we are all confident of turning this car into a winner and reinstating it in its rightful place – at the front of the field in Britain’s premier motorsport series.”

Turkington himself is eager to get started with the new car, marking his return to racing a BMW saloon for the first time since 2011, when he raced a BMW 320si in Scandinavian and World Touring Cars.

“As far as pre-seasons go, it doesn’t get much better than this,” said Turkington. “Back in 2009, I clinched my first Drivers’ title in a BMW 3 Series, and to commence a new chapter with the new model for Team BMW is a dream come true.

“This exciting project has delivered a potent dose of motivation into an already dedicated team and we are inspired to get going.

“It’s a very busy time for the engineering team back at base as they build and develop the cars for the new season, but the expertise is there to get the job done.

“The new-look road car is stunning and the race car will be something else! It’s an amazing time to be involved and I’m honoured to have this role.”

BMW 330i BTCC
Image: Nick Moss Design