2006 BMW Le Mans Classic



Munich/Le Mans. From July 7th to July 9th 2006 the BMW Group Mobile Tradition is entering the Le Mans classic for the first time this year. This spectacular event in the honor of this legendary highlight in motorsport is for all cars entered in the race between 1923 and 1979, inviting them back to the north of France this year for the third time. BMW Group Mobile Tradition, in response to the invitation, is sending three outstanding racing cars with equally outstanding drivers to this unique parade of manufacturers and clubs.
Particularly the BMW 328 Touring Coupé will make a comeback, this legendary car returning to the venue of its first triumph after no less than 67 years: On June 17, 1939 this racing version of the BMW 328 made its world debut in Le Mans. Built by Touring, the Italian coachwork specialist, the BMW 328 Touring Coupé was the sensation right from the beginning in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the car weighing just 780 kg or 1720 lb and with engine output of 136 bhp, the two drivers Max Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe and Hans Wencher clearly dominated the two-litre class, finishing a sensational fifth in the overall ranking, ahead of much larger and more powerful competitors. This time the Touring Coupé is being driven by the Director of BMW Mobile Tradition, Holger Lapp.

The legendary BMW M1 Group 4 "Munich Car" is also making its comeback in Le Mans: When this BMW M1 entered the classic 24 Hours in 1981, it stood out in particular through its exceptional paintwork: Where other cars were covered by the large logos and the names of major sponsors, the BMW M1 beautifully styled by paintwork artist Walter Maurer boasted hand-painted motifs of old and traditional Munich inns and landmarks, creating a link unique to this day between a car manufacturer, on the one hand, and local sponsors, on the other.
Like in 1981, this year's driver will be Leopold Prince of Bavaria, a legendary racing expert and the representative of Bayerische Motoren Werke, taking his seat in the cockpit of this exceptional car. He himself refers to his years with the BMW M1 as one of the greatest times he ever experienced in motorsport. With the exception of Formula 1 and Formula 2, the Prince of Bavaria, truly an old hand in motorsport, was active in all disciplines and competitions. And contributing all his experience, he has also been an active driver for BMW in historical motorsport since 1993.

Recruiting Marc Surer for the event, BMW has been able to win over yet another driver with lots of experience in Le Mans. Apart from numerous touring car races, this Swiss driver, at the wheel of a BMW, won the 1979 European Formula 2 Championship and various other events before moving on to Formula 1 in the '80s. And now, in the Le Mans classic, Marc will once again be driving a BMW 320 Group 5, like in 1977.

Upon entering the motorsport scene in 1977, the BMW 320 made its appearance in the striped livery of the BMW 3.0 CSL Coupés raced by BMW Motorsport GmbH founded in 1972, that is the legendary Coupés which truly hit the headlines on international race tracks in the early '70s. As a Group 5 racing car, the BMW 320 stands out in particular through its extra-large wheel arches, the big front spoiler and rear wing. And beneath the engine compartment lid the car boasts a thoroughbred BMW Formula 2 racing engine, a two-litre straight-four developing maximum output of 300 bhp. Obviously, only a real racing suspension and numerous aerodynamic improvements are able to get this kind of power on to the track.

In the large pavilion in the pitlane, BMW Group Mobile Tradition will be presenting not only motorcycles and racing cars of the 1950s, but also the history of BMW's success in 24-hour events. And near the pavilion BMW Club de France will be proudly showing some selected classic BMWs.


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