www.QV500.com - BMW (E26) M1 Part 5: Group 4 World Manufacturers Championship

Quester/Pironi, 1980 Mugello 6 Hours

After the disappointment of having to sit 1979's World Manufacturers Championship out, it must have come as a relief to BMW when they learned their Group 4 M1 would be able to race in 1980's new S2.0+ class. However, the car was not officially homologated as a GT until December 1st 1980 and when IMSA's governing body decided the car should run in their premier GTX class, we had the bizarre situation of these cars being re-classified for joint IMSA / WMC rounds held in North America (like the Daytona 24 and Watkins Glen 6 hour events). Irrespectively, its main opposition would come from crack-built prototypes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Kenper Miller and Dave Cowart gave the Group 4 M1 its WMC debut in 1980's opening round at the Daytona 24 Hours where, running their newly acquired ex-Osella Procar, they unfortunately retired. Despite this early setback, Dieter Quester's lightly modified Procar appeared at Mugello five weeks later and took a fabulous sixth overall for victory in the S2.0+ category, a result that encouraged BMW Motorsport's new competition boss, Dieter Stappert, to make use of a works car later in the season. This factory-backed machine took the Group 4 M1's second win of the year, Hans Stuck and Nelson Piquet dominating at the Nurburgring 1000kms in a stunningly liveried art car that finished third overall. A fourth and fifth in class at Le Mans followed along with a tenth overall at Watkins Glen, Red Lobster's entry being joined by BMW's works car which, like at Le Mans, was finished in Marlboro colours. A third class win for the M1 came at Dijon's 1000km, this in just the G4 BMW's seventh WMC race, a ratio that would improve yet further during the course of 1981 after the car was officially homologated (on December 1st 1980) and accepted into IMSA's GTO category. Seven class wins in eleven World Manufacturer Championship race's followed, Cowart and Miller's Red Lobster outfit taking wins at the Riverside 6 Hours and Mosport 1000kms (both joint IMSA / WMC events), individual victories going to Quester Bavarian Motors (Daytona 24 Hours), BMW Italia (Mugello 6 Hours), BMW Zol-Auto (Monza 1000km), Kurt Konig (Nurburgring 1000km) and Chuck Kendall (Road America 500).

Stuck/Heyer, 1981 Silverstone 6 Hours
By 1982, endurance races playing host to both the World Manufacturers Championship and IMSA were no more, BMW's quartet of M1 class victories in '82 coming at Silverstone's 6 Hours and the Monza, Nurburgring and Spa Francorchamps 1000km race's - all of which were won by the slick outfit of Dane, Jens Winther. Twelve more wins for the Group 4 M1 followed over the course of the next two years, six of these going to Winther, three to Helmut Gall, a pair to Racing Team Jurgensen and one to Rolf Goring, all of which left BMW's late starter with an enviable WMC race record comprising 26 class wins from just 40 races.

1980 World Manufacturers Championship
1981 World Manufacturers Championship
1982 World Manufacturers Championship
1983 World Manufacturers Championship
1984 World Manufacturers Championship