APRIL 14, 1997
Williams and BMW
WILLIAMS and BMW are going to work together in the future, but rumors suggesting that this will be in Grand Prix racing are wide of the mark. The intention appears to be for Williams to continue to race Renault-based V10 engines in Formula 1 but to switch Williams Touring Car Engineering's activities in the British Touring Car Championship from the current Renault cars to BMW products.
In addition we believe that Williams is about to set up a completely new company and factory in the Didcot area to prepare BMW sportscars for the FIA Grand Touring Championship. This is likely to be called Williams Sports Car Engineering.
The new GT series has seen Mercedes-Benz and Porsche throw down the gauntlet and produce competitive sportscars which are making life very difficult for BMW's current GT machinery, the McLaren F1 GTR sportscars which are run by Team BMW Motorsport (Schnitzer) for JJ Lehto, Steve Soper, Peter Kox and Roberto Ravaglia and the Gulf Team Davidoff entries of Ray Bellm/Andrew Gilbert-Scott, Thomas Bsher/John Nielsen and Jean-Marc Gounon/Pierre-Henri Raphanel. It remains to be seen who will be involved in the new project, although we understand that McLaren GT designer GordonĘMurray no longer has a contract with McLaren and may be involved in the new Williams operation. Murray has been involved in the McLaren sportscar operation since March 1989 although in recent months BMW's BTCC program has been run from the old McLaren Cars factory in Woking. The project is now being overseen by another former F1 engineer FrankĘCoppuck.
The new BMW sportscar is expected to feature a new 3.5-liter BMW V10 engine, currently being secretly developed by Paul Rosche's BMW Motorsport engine department in Munich.
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