Published on August 15th, 2019 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


BMW celebrating ‘50 years of Turbo Power

Since 1969 BMW has been delivering forced induction power with much success

BMW is celebrating ‘50 years of Turbo Power in motorsport’ in 2019. From the first turbo engine back in 1969 to the latest P48 engine for the BMW M4 DTM, which already has six wins to its name this season, there have been many steps forward. Here’s an overview of the evolution of the BMW Turbo engine in motor racing.

 BMW M121 Turbo-Motor

1969: BMW 2002 TI – Engine: BMW M121.

As the first BMW Turbo racing engine, thisfour-cylinder, in-line engine with a two-litre capacity and turbocharger was ahistory-making pioneer. Dieter Quester won the European Touring CarChampionship in a BMW 2002 TI with turbo power. With 0.98 bar of overpressure,the first generation of turbo engine generated approx. 280 hp at 6,500 rpm. Theexhaust fan was theoretically capable of developing a boost pressure of 1.76bar, however, the pressure in the cylinder would have been so great, that thecylinder head would have lifted clean off.

 BMW 3.0 CSL – Motor: BMW M49/4.

1976:BMW 3.0 CSL – Engine: BMW M49/4.

The BMW 3.0 CSL art car designed by FrankStella (USA) raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1976 with the BMW M49/4 turboengine. With a displacement of 3.2 litres, the boost pressure of 1.72 barallowed the engine to generate roughly 750 hp at 9,000 rpm. It took the BMWMotorsport engineers a matter of weeks to assemble a test car, which made itsrace debut at Silverstone. However, as with the art car at Le Mans later,technical issues prevented a good race result.

 BMW 320 Gruppe 5

1977:BMW 320 Group 5 – Engine: BMW M12/12.

From 1977, Schnitzer Motorsport ran the BMWM12/12 engine in the BMW 320 Group 5. Just one year later, Harald Ertl won theGerman Racing Championship with that very engine. The four-cylinder unitgenerated just short of 400 hp, while a variant developed further by PaulRosche and his team in 1979 actually exceeded the 500-hp mark.

 BMW M1 Procar

1979:BMW M1 Group 5 – Engine: BMW M88/2.

In 1979, an impressive 1,000 hp of powerlay dormant in the BMW M88/2 engine for the BMW M1 Group 5. The mid-mountedengine could not really unleash this power until 1981, as the homologation ofthe car was delayed. By that point, the BMW M1 Procar, which was homologated inline with Group 4 regulations, had already achieved great fame with the M88/1naturally aspirated engine. However, the Group 5 version brought with it advantagesover the rivals from Porsche and Ford, who were very strong at the time. Thesebenefits ultimately helped Hans-Joachim Stuck (GER) to a prestigious victory atthe Norisring in 1981.

 Brabham BMW

1981-1987:Brabham BMW – Engine: BMW M12/13.

Based on the engine in the BMW 320 Group 5,Paul Rosche developed the 1.5-litre engine used in the Brabham BMW in Formula 1in 1981. The unit initially generated roughly 560 hp in races, but thisperformance was increasing all the time. In 1982, Nelson Piquet claimed thefirst Formula 1 victory with BMW Turbo Power. One year later, he was crownedworld champion in the Brabham BMW BT52. By this point, its engine wasgenerating 640 hp in race mode, with 2.9 bar of boost pressure. Its successor –the BMW M12/13/1 – was capable of up to 1,400 hp in qualifying mode, making itthe most powerful Formula 1 engine ever. As a customer engine, it was also usedby other teams, including ATS, Arrows and Benetton. Current ITR boss, GerhardBerger, took his maiden Formula 1 victory with this engine in 1986.


2011-2012:MINI WRC and BMW 320TC WTCC – Engines

P14 and P13. After the Formula 1 era, ittook until 2011 for BMW Motorsport to run another turbo engine: the P14, basedon the production engine in the Mini Cooper S, in the Mini Countryman WorldRally Car, and P13 in the BMW 320TC for the FIA World Touring Car Championship(FIA WTCC). The power was increased dramatically, to 320 hp from a displacementof just 1.6 litres. The cylinder block and cylinder head were largelyunmodified, showing just how robust the production engine was.

 BMW P63 Turbomotor, BMW M6 GT3

2016:BMW M6 GT3 – Engine: BMW P63.

In 2016, the BMW M6 GT3 was the next racecar to compete with turbo power. The P63 engine was based on the S63 productionversion and was slightly modified to meet the demands of motorsport. Thanks toM TwinPower Turbo technology, the V8 engine with a displacement of 4.4 litresgenerated up to 585 hp, depending on the classification. The BMW M6 GT3 isstill enjoying success with the P63 engine to this day. Among other successes,this combination has won the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps twice and the FIA GTWorld Cup in Macau.

 BMW P63/1 Turbo-Motor, BMW M8 GTE

2018:BMW M8 GTE – Engine: BMW P63/1.

In preparation for entering the FIA WorldEndurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with theBMW M8 GTE, the familiar engine from the BMW M6 GT3 was reduced from adisplacement of 4.4 to 4 litres to comply with GTE regulations. The P63/1engine consists of almost 2,300 components – 985 of which are unique. 181 partsoriginate from production projects, while over 700 were developed from scratchespecially for the P63/1 or transferred to this project from other BMWMotorsport racing engines. Depending on the classification, it generatesbetween 500 and 600 hp and was, at the time, the most efficient engine that BMWMotorsport had ever developed. Its greatest success to date came in the form ofa GTLM class win at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2019.

 BMW P48 Turbo-Motor

2019:BMW M4 DTM – Engine: BMW P48.

On the 50th anniversary of the BMW Turbo engine, turbo power returned to the DTM in 2019. Like the 1969 engine, the BMW P48 is a two-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine, which is now capable of developing more than 600 hp with boost pressures of up to 2.5 bar. As the regulations specify a maximum amount of fuel, the detailed development work focussed primarily on efficiency. In this regard, it not only surpasses the P63/1, but also most modern production engines.

At 85 kilograms, it weighs only half as much as its DTM predecessor. The lightweight unit boasts impressive figures compared to the DTM engines used previously: half the displacement, more power, less consumption. The P48 engine won on its race debut at the 2019 season-opener at Hockenheim.

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