BMW wins World Touring Car Championship and spins out a homologation special
By Mike Hanlon
November 24, 2005
November 25, 2005 BMW won the 2005 FIA World Touring Car Championship for Manufacturers and its driver Andy Priaulx won the Driver’s Championship, securing back to back victories despite an 18-year gap between events - BMW won the first World Touring Car Championship in 1987, with the second (2005) Championship finishing last week in Macau, China. Co-incidental with the Championship wins, BMW has announced a limited edition performance-enhanced 3 Series Sedan to comply with FIA homologation regulations and to promote the 2005 victories and the 2006 efforts. The new BMW 320si Sedan is a limited edition of the 2006 BMW World Touring Car. It boats 127 kW and a host of race-bred features. Only 2,600 will be built.
It is designed to comply with FIA homologation regulations and has a hand-built four-cylinder engine made at BMW’s engine plant at Hams Hall, United Kingdom.
The high revving 2.0-litre unit delivers 127 kW at 7,000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 4,250 rpm.
This engine powers the BMW from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.1 seconds and to a top speed of 224 km/h. Although inspired by the racetrack, the car still delivers excellent fuel economy and conforms to the EU4 emissions regulations.
The limited production run of the BMW 320si starts in March 2006 and ends in September 2006.
This high level of performance has been achieved using BMW’s motorsport technology. Compared with the regular BMW 320i, the engine has been significantly modified with larger induction and exhaust valves to increase airflow. The cylinder bore has increased by 1 mm to 85 mm while the stroke has been reduced by 2 mm to 88 mm.
The compression ratio of the engine has also been increased from 10.5:1 to 11.0:1, helping to boost power by 7 kW over the 320i. Additionally, instead of running with grey-cast-iron cylinder liners, the pistons run in special aluminium-alloy liners in the cylinder block.
In a direct link with BMW’s motorsport programmes, the cylinder head is cast at BMW’s Landshut foundry alongside Formula One engine blocks. Additionally, to save approximately 10 kg and lower the car’s centre of gravity, the cylinder head cover is made of carbon fibre.
The new BMW 320si mates its high levels of performance with World Touring Car looks. The specification of the 320si is based on the 3 Series M Sport model that includes front and rear aerodynamic body styling, sports seats, sports suspension and aluminium interior trim.
Additionally, the BMW 320si features Touring Car-style alloy wheels with BMW Motorsport motif. The front wheels are 8J x 18 fitted with 225/40 R18 tyres while at the rear the 8.5J x 18 wheels are fitted with 255/35 R18 tyres. Finally, mirror caps finished in satin chrome differentiate the car from a standard 3 Series.
Andy Priaulx scored a brace of second place finishes in his BMW 320si at the demanding street-based Guia Circuit, at Macau, a result which not only landed the 2005 world title but also secured the coveted Manufacturers’ World Championship for BMW.
Priaulx was understandably overjoyed with the result and commented: “It’s really just a strange feeling at the moment. Macau is so special. To qualify on pole meant a lot but I felt that only ten per cent of the work was done. After Race 1 was over and I learnt Dirk Muller had finished tenth and Fabrizio Giovanardi did not finish, it looked good for me. The pressure was still there though. It was great during the race when I heard I was world champion and it has been fantastic ever since!”
Priaulx won the title with a total of 101 points, with Dirk Muller of BMW Team Deutschland in second with 86 points and Fabrizio Giovanardi driving an Alfa Romeo in third place with 81 points. Priaulx scooped top honours courtesy of consistent driving throughout the season, making it to the podium 11 times.
BMW won the manufacturers’ title with a total of 273 points, 37 points ahead of its closest pursuer.
The new 2006 BMW 320si promises to be the latest in a long line of highly successful saloon-based Touring cars. The FIA World Touring Car title was Andy Priaulx’s second championship win in a row after his success in the 2004 European Touring Car Championship, again in a BMW 320i.
Historically, Touring Cars has been BMW’s most successful racing category, with success in 24 FIA European Championships as well as the only previous World Touring Car Championship in 1987.
The racing version of the BMW’s E30 M3 remains the most successful Touring Car ever, having won every official touring car championship in the world in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.