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BMW Involvement in road racing - Racing tradition for 84 years

Racing sport and racing success are inseparably linked with the boxer motorcycles from BMW. They have accompanied the marque with the white-and-blue emblem from the very beginning, making it world famous and providing a fundamental contribution to the outstanding reputation of the BMW series of motorcycles.

Even in 1923, the year of its inauguration, the first BMW motorcycle – the R 32 – completed the ride through the Bavarian mountains – a test of reliability on the open road and an event typical of the period. The machine, ridden by its development engineer Max Friz, instantly proved the superior dependability of its construction.

1929–1939: world records and first victory on the Isle of Man

Innumerable other sporting successes followed. The memorable race by Georg (‘Schorsch’) Meier who in 1939, with the BMW Kompressor, defeated the Nortons which had dominated on the Isle of Man until then. And the world speed record of Ernst Henne in 1929 (216.75 km/h) and again in 1937 (279.5 km/h) where the latter stood for almost 14 years.

1956: sub-World Champion

Later, solo racing machines and sidecar racing teams won countless national and international victories with the RS-engine two-cylinder boxer (in racing guise) with overhead camshafts powered by bevel drives. The sub-World Championship of Walter Zeller in the year 1956 marked the last success of the official BMW Motorrad works involvement in solo road racing. Afterwards, the RS 500 bevel drive continued to be used for a few years by private teams. But BMW was still regarded as unbeatable for many years in the motorcycle/sidecar World Championship. By 1974 BMW had been the world champion marque a total of 20 times.

1976: double success in Daytona and in the Tourist Trophy

The importer for BMW motorcycles in the USA at that time, Butler & Smith, provided a real sensation in Daytona in 1976: Under the direction of Dr. Peter Adams, Butler & Smith had prepared motorcycles for the production machine race of the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) and brought three racing machines based on the BMW R 90 S to the start line in Daytona.

The race was won by Steve McLaughlin in a breathtaking photo finish just ahead of his team comrade Reg Pridmore: It was a double victory for BMW in the world’s major superbike race of the time. Again, in the year 1976 Helmut Dähne and Hans-Otto Butenuth thrilled with their performances in the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man. With the two BMW 900 models and BMW support, the private riders covered the demanding road circuit of the Production TT not only with the greatest speed, but also in the shortest time.

1999–2004: BMW Motorrad BoxerCup

The BMW Motorrad BoxerCup was launched in 1999. The races in Belgium and France were held as purely national events for two years. Because of the great excitement that the races created, this series was further developed into a manufacturer’s cup with international status and the involvement of other European countries.

With the support of the BMW Group, BMW Motorrad took over the central supervision and organisation of all races in 2001. An intrinsic part of the programme of world championship meetings of MotoGP or international endurance and superbike championships, the races throughout Europe
attracted great attention. The leap “across the pond” was achieved in 2003 when the BMW Motorrad

BoxerCup was held for the first time in America.

The boxer sound and riveting battles by top international riders also thrilled the spectators in 2004.

2005: BMW Motorrad PowerCup

At the BMW Motorrad Markencup in 2005 the riders went out onto the
grid with a brand new motorcycle – the BMW K 1200 R – and the BoxerCup became the PowerCup. The high achievement potential, the high revving four-cylinder machine and the unmistakable appearance in the most powerful ‘naked bike’ series in the world provided supreme dynamics and excitement throughout the racing season.

2007: Sport-Boxer in the Endurance World Championship

BMW Motorrad returned to solo road racing with a works team in 2007. In the legendary 24-hour race of Le Mans, a specially constructed Sport Boxer carried on the racing tradition of the white-and-blues. Despite all the challenges the BoxerCup was still a “race among equals”, but now the BMW Motorrad motor sports team is taking on an internationally competitive field. Other long-distance races in Barcelona, Oschersleben and Magny-Cours followed.

Constant refinement for serial production

The dedication of BMW Motorrad not only took into account the great many wishes of the international community of fans. On the contrary, engineers and technicians also used experiences from endurance racing to advance engine and chassis technology for serial production. For example, the DOHC cylinder head or the CFK fairing components of the racing machine reappear today in the new BMW HP2 Sport. Today, the development constantly moves forward.

In 2008 BMW Motorrad will once again line up at the start with the HP2 racing machine – not least to put the components for serial production through their paces and to refine them. Other events are planned in the long-distance world championship as well as participation in other prestigious endurance races.

The long-distance racing machine of the BMW Motorrad team differs from

the serial version of the BMW HP2 Sport in a number of ways. With the aim of losing as little time as possible during pit stops, a quick-change system with swivel upside down telescope fork (typical of the endurance racing) was mounted on the front wheel. The clearance between the production-line stanchion and sliders was increased for this purpose. Together with the com-bination of standard swing arm and central nut system from Formula 1 on the rear wheel, this permits faster changeover of the forged wheels.

The larger aluminium tank with high-speed filling valve and a capacity of 23.5 litres is also a must for long-distance racing. Because racing regulations permit a louder exhaust system, a racing silencer from Akrapovic is at the rear and contributes to the higher maximum power output of the thoroughbred racing machine.