APRIL 14, 1997
Williams and BMW
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 GordonÊMurray 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 FrankÊCoppuck.
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.