Franz Engstler is a German former racing driver and current team owner who spent the most of his career in touring car races all over the world.
The highlight of his career was the World Touring Car Championship title for independent drivers in 2014. He ended a racing career in 2015, focusing on running his team in different touring car competitions.
Three seasons in the Formula 3
Franz Engstler was born on July 25, 1961, in Kempten im Allgäu, Germany. After gaining some success in the European Hillclimbing Championship and the German Long Distance Cup, he entered the German Formula 3 in 1988. He spent three seasons in the open-wheel competition.
While racing in the Formula 3, Engstler recorded occasional appearances in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM), driving a BMW M3 in a couple of races in 1989 and 1990.
Two full seasons in the DTM
In 1991, Engstler completely switched to touring car racing, spending a full DTM season with Opel Team Irmscher. He and Volker Strycek were driving Opel Omega 3000 Evo 500 for the team.
In 1992, Engstler joined Vailer Motorsport to drive BMW M3 Sport Evolution but without notable results. He finished 16th in the points.
Early in a career, Engstler was driving Alfa Romeo
Engstler Motorsport was founded in 1996
In 1993, Engstler switched to Alfa Romeo 155, continuing to drive in the DTM but also in the German Touring Car Championship and FIA Touring Car Challenge. He was the German Class 2 champion.
In the following years, he competed with different teams and cars (Alfa Romeo, BMW) until he founded his own team in 1996. With his own Alfa Romeo 155 TS, Engstler was racing in the Italian and German Supertouring Championships for two seasons.
German Touring Car Challenge champion in 2000
In 1998, Engstler rejoined Irmscher Motorsport to drive an Opel Vectra in the German Supertouring Championship. Next year, he was driving his own Alfa Romeo 155 again and then he joined Schäfer Motorsport to drive a BMW 320i in the 2000 German Touring Car Challenge. He won the championship title.
He spent three more seasons in the German Touring Car Challenge, driving his own Alfa Romeo 147 or Schubert Motorsport's BMW 320i. In 2004, he was again in his own car, a BMW 320i in the German Production Car Championship.
Three Asian Touring Car Championship titles
In 2005, Engstler started one of the most successful periods in a career. He moved to the Asian Touring Car Championship, dominating in his BMW 320i. After ten wins in twelve races, he was the ATCC champion for the first time.
Engstler added two more ATCC titles in his account in 2006 and 2007. The victorious car was a BMW 320i.
WTCC debut for Engstler in 2007
Besides racing in Asia, Engstler participated in different touring car competitions in Europe and Germany. The best result came in 2007 when he was the ADAC Procar Series Division 1 champion with BMW 320i.
The season 2007 was also a milestone year because Engstler debuted in the World Touring Car Championship. In November, Engstler Motorsport fielded three cars in the last championship round at Macau Guia Circuit. Engstler finished two races in 19th and 16th place.
Regular WTCC entrant since 2008
The Liqui Moly Team Engstler became the regular WTCC entrant since 2008. In his first full season, Engstler was driving the #42 BMW 320i. His teammate in the #43 car was Andrey Romanov. In the last race of the season, at Macau Guia Circuit, Engstler recorded his first win in the Independent class and sixth place overall.
At the end of the season, he was second among independent drivers and the team was second among independent teams. Engstler also won the BMW Sports Trophy for independent drivers, ahead of one hundred and forty other BMW drivers around the world.
Constantly on the top among independents
For the 2009 WTCC season, Engstler was joined by Kristian Poulsen in the team. With two independent wins and sixth place as the best overall result, Engstler was third in the Yokohama Independents' Trophy. The team was also in the third place. The season 2009 was marked by a bizarre incident at the WTCC meeting at Pau, where Engstler had a crash with a Safety Car.
In 2010, for the third year in a row, Engstler was among the best independent drivers. With one victory, he was the championship runner-up, losing a title to Sergio Fernandez. Andrei Romanov rejoined the team, which finished in the third place among independent teams.
First overall WTCC victory in 2011
In 2011, Franz Engstler and Kristian Poulsen were teammates again, driving a new generation of BMW 320 TC cars. In the German round at Oschersleben, Engstler scored his first ever overall WTCC victory. He finished 8th in the final WTCC classification and third among independent drivers.
His teammate Kristian Poulsen was an Independent WTCC champion, beating Michel Nykjaer by just two points. Liqui Moly Team Engstler also took the title for the independent teams.
Franz Engstler's championship winning BMW 320 TC
Independent WTCC champion in 2014
Charles Ng was Engstler's teammate in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, the team was seventh in the points, Engstler finished fourth in the Yokohama Trophy standings. The season 2013 was even worst, as Engstler finished 8th among independent drivers while the team was in the eleventh place.
And then, in 2014, the TC2 field in the Yokohama Drivers' Trophy was small and Franz Engstler managed to win the championship title. He was driving the #6 BMW 320 TC, scoring twenty independent wins in 23 races.
Engstler ended a racing career in the TCR International Series
For the 2015 season, Engstler moved to newly introduced TCR International Series. Liqui Moly was one of the leading teams in the series, running with three different manufacturers (Audi, Volkswagen, Seat) during the inaugural TCR season. The team was using services of seven drivers. Franz Engstler himself participated in three rounds (six races) before he switched his focus on managing duties in the team.
In 2016, Engstler became one of the organizers of ADAC TCR Germany, continuing to run cars in different touring car competitions all over the world. One of the drivers is Luca Engstler (born in 2000), Franz Engstler's only son.