Schnitzer Motorsport - Winning squad from Bavaria
The Schnitzer Motorsport is one of the best-known German racing teams with a long and successful history in motorsport.
Winning team since 1966
The team was founded in 1963, in Freilassing near Munich in Bavaria. Brothers Josef and Herbert Schnitzer bought a damaged Fiat, restored it and began their racing career. In 1966, the team had its first victory when Josef won the German Touring Car Championship driving a BMW 2000ti tuned by himself. That was the beginning of the long and fruitful partnership with BMW and the start of the team’s breakthrough to the racing stage.
In 1968, both Josef and Herbert retired from active racing and focused solely on team management. The same year the team won European Hillclimb championship with Ernst Furtmayr driving a BMW 2002ti. He won another two titles for the team in 1969 and 1970, while in 1971 the European Hillclimb championship title was won for the fourth time in a row, this time by Walter Brun who was behind the wheel of BMW CS 2.8.
European Formula 2 champions
The season of 1975 brought a completely different challenge for Schnitzer Motorsport – the Formula 2. However, the foray was successful and Jacques Laffite won the European Formula 2 Championship, driving a Martini Formula 2 powered by an engine prepared by Schnitzer Motorsport. That was team’s maiden title in the single-seaters.
The next major success was achieved in 1976 when the team won the prestigious race 1000 km of Nurburgring with Dieter Quester and Albrecht Krebs driving a BMW 3.5 CSL. The season of 1978 seemed quite successful after Harald Ertl won Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft driving a BMW 320i Turbo, but sadly, the year was overshadowed by a death of Josef Schnitzer who was killed in the traffic accident.
1983 ETCC champions
His death was a big blow for the team. Schnitzer Motorsport remained present at the racing stage but the team needed some time to recover and to win the titles again. In 1983, Dieter Quester won the European Touring Car Championship driving a BMW 635 CSi Group A.
In 1985, Schnitzer scored its first 24 hours race. Roberto Ravaglia, Gerhard Berger, and Marc Surer won the classic at Spa-Francorchamps, finishing ahead of the second Schnitzer BMW 635 CSi that was driven by Dieter Quester, Markus Ostreich, and Johnny Cecotto.
An era of Roberto Ravaglia
In 1986, the new era has begun for Schnitzer Motorsport. Roberto Ravaglia became the European Touring Car champion and won the second ETCC title for the team. That triumph was an introduction for the title won in the inaugural World Touring Cars Championship in 1987. Driving a BMW M3, Ravaglia wrote his name in the team’s and series’ books holding the title for 18 years until 2005.
The stream of the successes has continued next year. Ravaglia again was in the main role as he won another ETCC title. In 1989, the Italian added another trophy to his and the team’s collection as he managed to win DTM title in his first attempt. For the first time in team’s history, two trophies were won in one year after Johnny Cecotto triumphed in the Italian Touring Cars Championship. Ravaglia later succeeded Cecotto with two consecutive ITCC titles in 1990 and 1991, establishing himself as one of the best touring car drivers of all time.
Conquering the world
At the same time, Schnitzer Motorsport’s BMWs conquered the tracks all around the world in the prestigious endurance events. From 1988 to 1991 team dominated in Wellington 500 race with Ravaglia, Emanuele Pirro, Cecotto, and Joachim Winkelhock. In 1990, the team won 24 Hours of Spa with Cecotto, Ostreich, and Fabien Giroix behind the wheel of BMW E30 M3. During the next season, Winkelhock, Armin Hahne, and Kris Nissen triumphed in 24h of Nurburgring driving a BMW M3 Evo 2. However, one of the greatest wins was in 1992 at Macau Guia Race when Schnitzer Motorsport’s pilots occupied the podium – Pirro was the winner, followed by Winkelhock and Ravaglia.
When BMW retired from DTM, Schnitzer Motorsport was looking for the new challenge and the choice was the British Touring Car Championship. Joachim ’Smoking Joe’ Winkelhock won the title right away and added another trophy to the team’s already big collection. Winkelhock then was moved to Asia where he became the FIA Asia-Pacific Touring champion. The Schnitzer Motorsport was literally conquering the world at that moment.
Schnitzer Motorsport BMW Team scored multiple wins in Nurburgring 24h
Two trophies were won in 1995. Steve Soper became the Japanese Touring Car champion driving a BMW 318 is, while Joachim Winkelhock won the Super Tourenwagen Cup. In the next two years, Schnitzer’s winning stream has stopped but not for a long time.
In 1998, Schnitzer Motorsport’s BMW 320d with Hans-Joachim Stuck, Marc Duez, Andreas Bovensiepen, and Christian Menzel, won the Nurburgring 24h race. It was the first Diesel victory in a major 24h race. Also, it was the second win for Stuck, the first winner of the race, after 28 years. The same year, Johnny Cecotto won the Super Tourenwagen Cup driving a BMW 320i.
The first and only Le Mans victory
BMW scored its first and only win at Le Mans in 1999. It was the BMW V12 LMR car prepared by Schnitzer Motorsport and driven by Joachim Winkelhock, Yannick Dalmas, and Pierluigi Martini. They triumphed at Circuit de la Sarthe. That victory stands as a cherished win in the team’s history.
After winning the races and championships across Europe, Asia, and Australia, Schnitzer Motorsport “attacked” the United States in 2001. Jorg Muller won the GT title in the American Le Mans Series in a BMW M3 GTR, while JJ Lehto was the runner-up, helping the team to win the title.
Narrowly missing the WTCC title
In 2004 and 2005, Schnitzer scored 1-2 finishes in 24 Hours of Nurburgring, both with BMW M3 GTR. In 2004, the winning line-up was Pedro Lamy, Dirk Muller, Hans-Joachim Stuck, and Jorg Muller, while in 2005, in the winning squad were Boris Said, Duncan Huisman, Andy Priaulx, and Lamy. It was the final race for the BMW M3 GTR.
From 2005 to 2009, BMW Team Schnitzer competed in the WTCC with a considerable success. During those five years, the team won a total of 25 races and despite being in a contention right down to the grand finale in Macau on several occasions, the Bavarians missed to win another trophy.
After ceasing its operation in the WTCC, Schnitzer Motorsport decided to try other competitions. Before entering the DTM, the biggest achievement was a victory in 24h of Nurburgring in 2010 with Augusto Farfus, Pedro Lamy, Uwe Alzen, and Jorg Muller in a wheel of BMW M3 GT2.
DTM became a priority for a while
From 2012, competing in DTM became the main occupation of the Freilassing-based team. As many times before, Schnitzer Motorsport won the title in its comeback year. Canadian driver Bruno Spengler won the title, while the second driver Dirk Werner helped in winning the Teams’ championship. In 2013, Spengler was 3rd and that was the last notable result.
From 2014 until the end of 2016, Schnitzer Motorsport struggled a bit and scored only one race win and a couple of podium finishes. Unfortunately, after pretty unsuccessful years, Schnitzer Motorsport decided to leave the series at the end of 2016 and to focus on other competitions.