BMW Bringing Le Mans, Dakar And European Hillclimb Winners To GP Ice Race
Remember the GP Ice Race that returned to Zell am See after a 46-year hiatus? Well, you really should, given that Will Broadhead froze off most of his extremities bringing you pictorial coverage from the Alpine resort last year. And if his images of Porsche 356s, Group B Audi Quattros, and Lancia Deltas tank-slapping their way across the ice aren’t enough to peak your interest, news that BMW will be joining the event for the first time with a first-gen BMW M3, a rally-spec Mini Cooper S, and a former winner of the Dakar Rally in tow really should.
The biggest of the three headliners is unquestionably the E30 M3 that took Francis Dosières to the European Touring Car Hillclimb Championship in both 1988 and 1989. One year after its achievements, the M3 was converted to rally trim to take on the French Rally Championship, now with Dosières’ compatriot Patrick Artru now at the wheel and with multiple class wins on the horizon. In Zell am See on 1-2 February, the M3 will be driven by former Daytona 24 Hours class winner, Philipp Eng,
Alongside the M3, the BMW Group will also be presenting one of the most successful vehicles in Dakar Rally history with the ’12 event winning ALL4 Racing. In 2012, event legend Stéphane Peterhansel, alongside co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, secured his 10th win on the Dakar, the first for MINI, and the first of an eventual four on the bounce for the ALL4 Racing. With Carlos Sainz’ latest win aboard the John Cooper Works Buggy in Saudi Arabia, that collectively puts MINI third on the list of all-time most successful car manufacturers on the Dakar.
At the GP Ice Race 2020, the ALL4 Racing will be piloted by Christian Menzel, a former class winner of the Nürburgring 24 Hours in 1998 aboard a BMW 320D.
Completing BMW/MINI’s rally contingent for the 2020 GP Ice Race is a replica of the Mini Cooper S that took epochal wins at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967, as well as two static exhibits. The first is the Walter Maurer-liveried BMW M1, which entered Le Mans in 1981. The other more historically significant is the BMW V12 LMR that took outright victory at the French endurance classic in 1999 with Pierluigi Martini, Yannick Dalmas, and Joachim Winkelhock. To-date, this remains the last outright win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for BMW.
The 2020 GP Ice Race itself meanwhile will be the second running of the event since its re-introduction last year. Inaugurated in 1937, and with Ferdinand Porsche himself helping to get the event off the ground, the event boasts roots date back to the 1928 Winter Olympics, when ‘Skijoring’ skiers were pulled across a purpose race course on Lake Zell at maximum speed by riderless horses. 10 years later, motorised race tandems were permitted to enter, and in 1953, the first cars arrived. After a near-50-year hiatus, the event was re-introduced in 2019 with two-time Le Mans winner Hans-Joachim Stuck at the helm.
*Images courtesy of BMW Group