BMW cars have always had a reputation for performance. They are renowned for their exceptional steering feel, precise handling and exceptional engines, particularly the in-line 6 cylinders. The six bangers had turbine-like smoothness and excellent power for their displacement. The company did sell some diesels in the US market in the 1980s but hasn't offered them here in recent years. BMW diesels have remained available and popular in the European market and are now finally coming back to the US with a vengeance. BMW and Car and Driver magazine are going to be running a pair of twin-turbo 3.0L in-line six diesel 335d sedans in the upcoming Thunderhill 25 hour enduro.
The race takes place December 2-3 at Thunderhill Raceway Park in California. The driving team will include Csaba Csere, Tony Swan and others from Car and Driver along with professional racers Bill Auberlen and others. Auberlen has been racing BMWs in classes from SCCA regionals to LeMans since the early 1990s. This is not the first time diesel powered 3 series have gone racing. In 1998 a 320d won the 24 of Nurburgring endurance race which is run on the legendary Nordschleife. The new 335d uses a pair of turbochargers (one small and one large) to give maximum responsiveness and flexibility. The road version is rated at 286 hp and 427 ft-lbs of torque, even more than the new Mercedes E320 BlueTec. Given the performance of the Audi R10 this year, as long as the new BMWs are reliable, they should do pretty well in this enduro. The full BMW press release is after the jump.
Two 3 Series Sedans Will Compete in 25-Hour Endurance Race
Woodcliff Lake, NJ - October 9, 2006... BMW of North America, LLC announced today that it is teaming up with Car and Driver magazine to demonstrate the high-performance capability of its newest diesel engines. A pair of 335d sedans, equipped with twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel engines will compete in the 25-Hours of Thunderhill endurance race that takes place at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California on December 2-3, 2006.
"BMW's reputation for performance is well-known in the US" said Tom Purves, Chairman of BMW of North America, "but BMW's reputation as a technology leader in high-performance diesels is less well-known here, so we wanted to showcase that expertise at a time when more and more consumers are interested in the best possible combination of performance and fuel efficiency. BMW diesel technology demonstrates our EfficientDynamics philosophy at its best. On the one hand, it offers best-in-class performance; on the other hand, it offers outstanding fuel economy. These are ideal characteristics for endurance racing."
Car and Driver's editor-in-chief Csaba Csere agreed, "We've long admired the power and fuel economy that BMW has achieved with its diesel-powered cars in Europe. As the demand for fuel efficiency has made diesel engines more attractive to American buyers, many have wondered whether that efficiency could be combined with the responsive performance for which BMWs are justly famous. By entering this grueling race with these 335 diesel sedans, we expect to demonstrate that speed and efficiency can coexist together to deliver not only driver satisfaction, but also an excellent finish in an event that demands both qualities."
While this is a first effort at demonstrating BMW diesel performance on the race track in the US, this is not the first time that BMW has raced a production road car powered by a diesel engine. In 1998, BMW made history by winning the 24 Hour Nuerburgring race with the 320d, powered by a two-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine. The combination of high-performance with better fuel efficiency allowed the team to make fewer pit stops during the long endurance race.
The two 335d models that will race in the 25-Hours of Thunderhill embody the newest BMW 3 Series sedan, launched in 2006, and the most powerful inline, six-cylinder diesel engine in the world. In road-going specification, it produces 286-horsepower and 427 lb-ft. of torque. Boasting technology such as an all-aluminum crankcase, the latest generation of direct fuel injection and variable twin-turbocharging, the 335d offers impressive performance, as well as fuel economy. Variable Twin Turbo technology, allows the 3.0-liter diesel to deliver maximum performance without the lag that has been characteristic of many turbocharged engines in the past. Employing a small turbocharger, which, due to its low inertia, develops its power-boosting effect without delay, and a larger turbocharger which picks up the momentum, allows the engine to produce its maximum torque at only 1750 rpm. The two 335d sedans are race-prepared and run by Marshall Pruett Motorsports Engineering in San Jose, California. MPME has worked with Car and Driver on their last two 25 Hour programs.
The team of drivers for the two vehicles will be made up of editors from Car and Driver, professional racers, an up-and-coming young driver and the Motorsports Manager of BMW of North America. Editors Csaba Csere, Mark Gillies, Tony Swan and Larry Webster, will team with professional racers Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand, two drivers who have previously placed a BMW M3 in the winners' circle, driving for BMW Team PTG. Joining this group will be Martin Birkmann, Motorsports Manager for BMW of North America and Auston Harris, a young racer on the move.
The December 2-3 running of this endurance road race will be the 10th anniversary of the event and the fourth time since the duration was expanded from 12 hours to 25 hours, making it the longest endurance road race in the world. Car and Driver editors have competed in all three of the previous 25-hour Thunderhill races and have driven in 53 24-hour automobile races between them. The race begins at 11:00 am on Saturday, December 2 and concludes at noon on Sunday, December 3.