Sunday, June 08, 2008

BMW: Toyota's worst nightmare

Back in December 2006, I wrote a post about how Toyota should really be so much better than they are, not just in F1 but in all forms of motorsport. Here we are, 18 months later, and Toyota's generally poor showing in F1 has been brought into stark contrast by the remarkable first win for the BMW F1 team in Canada.

BMW seems almost to be the opposite of the behemoth that is Toyota. Perhaps the most successful "small" independent carmaker, they've made a point of generally kicking tail in every motorsport they've been in. Robert Kubica's win today is simply the latest in a long string of racing successes for the Munich-based manufacturer. Back in 1998 after a failed two-car Le Mans effort they radically revamped their V12LM prototype, realizing that revolution, not evolution was the way to go, and brought in the expertise of the Williams F1 design and engineering departments to help out. Whilst requiring more work, and representing greater risk of failure, it was this move that set the ball rolling for a victory at the Sarthe in 1999.

Since the return of the World Touring Car Championship in 2004, BMW has taken both drivers and manufacturers championships, always in the face of very stiff competition. Between 1973 and 1988 they won seven European Touring Car Championships, and the '88-'91 E30 M3 is often considered the most successful production-based racing car of all time.

When BMW brought their E46 M3 to the American Le Mans Series it was utterly dominant. It's not often that you see Porsche crying foul about another manufacturer cheating, but the success of the M3GTR drove them to such action. The car was swiftly banned for not complying with homologation numbers requirements. Next year sees the return of the M3 to the ALMS. I wonder how it will do? They're also going World Superbike racing in 2009 with a clean-sheet design, no doubt with series designs on the title.

And there's always the small matter of two Nurburgring 24 Hours victories with the aforementioned M3 GTR in 2004 and 2005.

For such a relatively small company, BMW have generally done a splendid job whenever they've gone racing. Toyota on the other hand have nothing but a string of failures to show for the ungodly amounts of money they've spent on their racing activities. The only bright spot in their racing portfolio is recent success in NASCAR, but based on this season's results, much of that is due to a certain Mr. Busch.


Jimmy said...

Toyota kicked some ass in rallying, when they weren't too busy getting chucked out. The method they used for cheating by bypassing the inlet restrictor was a work of genius!

Arun S said...

Probably they became complacent with the high sales of Camrys and Corollas so they thought advertising in racing is not going to help them much. They have not improved the designs in either of their good selling cars for over a decade (very minor changes compared to Nissan's ever improving design/performance), one of the reasons I hate toyota.