Continuing fascination: the BMW M3 thrills Glock and Wittmann
When the unmistakable sound of the atmospheric four-cylinder engine echoes in the pit lane after ignition, many technicians of the current DTM teams make a little break to have a look. The fascination of the historic touring cars that again raced in the ‘Tourenwagen Classics’ on the support bill of the DTM at the Lausitzring remains invariably huge. The BMW M3 (internally referred to as E30 by BMW, a code that has long become part of the legend) has a particular status. For current DTM drivers, the original M3 has its fascination, too.
Last week, over 1,000 followers voted on the DTM Twitter account in a poll to determine the coolest touring car in DTM history. With 40 percent of the votes, the BMW M3 was the undisputed winner. With Eric van de Poele (1987) and Roberto Ravaglia (1989), two drivers won the DTM title with the ‘Ur-M3’. In 1987, Harald Grohs won the very first race with the new car at Hockenheim.
In total, the M3 racked up no less than 39 DTM race wins between 1987 and the end of 1992. The winning drivers were Harald Grohs, Marc Hessel, Olaf Manthey, Fabien Giroix, Christian Danner, Kurt Thiim, Altfrid Heger, Roberto Ravaglia, Steve Soper, Johnny Cecotto, Jacques Laffite, Jo Winkelhock and Emanuele Pirro.
Still very popular with the fans: the BMW M3 (E30)
At the time, BMW had built numerous M3s to Group A regulations for races and rallies (thanks to Bernard Béguin at Corsica, BMW even won a round of the World Rally Championship in 1987) and many such cars are still around as a result. That also becomes apparent in the races of the DTM partner series ‘Tourenwagen Classics’, in which the M3 is the best-represented car in the field by far.
Timo Glock feels the sheer driving pleasure
At the Lausitzring last weekend, a current BMW works driver from the DTM ranks stepped in: in Saturday’s qualifying of the ‘Tourenwagen Classics’, Timo Glock completed a few laps with the M3 normally driven by ex DTM drivers Marc Hessel and Christian Menzel. “I told him to be careful. If there is only a single scratch on the car, Timo won’t be racing in the DTM tomorrow,” Menzel had threatened beforehand, only half-jokingly.
“If there is only a single scratch on the car…”
After his outing, Glock brought the car back to the pits without any damage. The wide grin on his face when he took off his helmet made it clear that he had had a jolly good time. “That was pure motoring,” he emphasised. “You have to work really hard, but I massively enjoyed it! Especially the experience when shifting down, the sound, simply unique! The car was wonderful to drive, excellently prepared by Sebastian Küppers and his team. Many thanks also to Christian and Marc Hessel for letting me drive it. It really fills you with respect for what the guys achieved back in the day!”
For the German, it wasn’t the first time driving the legendary BMW touring car. “A few years ago, I already drove one in Budapest,” he recalls. “But now, I was able to drive a little bit longer, so I enjoyed it even more.” For Glock, the M3 is also bringing back childhood memories: “At the time, I used to sit in front of the TV to watch the DTM. I saw drivers like Steve Soper, Johnny Cecotto and Roberto Ravaglia being successful with the M3.” Since a few years, Glock has been the owner of an M3 in road-going version. “Even a Roberto Ravaglia Edition,” he explains. “I am always happy when I am able to drive it!”
“Especially the experience when shifting down, the sound, simply unique!”
Fun for the entire family
With Herbert and Nico Wittmann in the M3 with starting number 11, the ‘Tourenwagen Classics’ entry list also included the father and the brother of the two-time DTM champion. “For me, driving myself is impossible, because my scheduled on a DTM race weekend is simply too packed,” Wittmann, currently third in the DTM drivers’ standings, explains. “But of course, I am keeping an eye on it when my father and my brother are driving. The sound is unique! The car has a cool history. Back then, it was a really cool time. That doesn’t mean that our time now isn’t cool, but it was quite fascinating back then, when there were also some of those real old-school heroes in the field. The car is mega fun, both to watch and to drive myself. Fun factor