BMW se­ries to launch this year with shared grid

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Stephen Lick­o­r­ish

The BMW 330 Chal­lenge will be run by the 750 Mo­tor Club this sea­son after pre­vi­ous or­gan­iser BMW Race­days pulled out.

The one-make se­ries based around the 330 ver­sion of the BMW E46 was due to have its in­au­gu­ral meet­ing last June. But con­cerns over a lack of com­pleted cars and ex­tra devel­op­ment work meant no races ac­tu­ally took place in 2016.

Now BMW Race­days, which also runs the pop­u­lar Com­pact Cup, has de­cided that it’s not fi­nan­cially vi­able for it to pay for ad­di­tional track time with the BRSCC when a small en­try is still ex­pected for 2017. The se­ries will now share a grid with the Su­per Cooper Cup with the 750MC.

“Last year we put a huge amount of re­sources into cre­at­ing this new se­ries that we wanted to turn into another strong one-make cham­pi­onship,” said BMW Race­days boss Paul Mcer­lean, who still plans to race in the se­ries this year. “We did very well cre­at­ing a lot of noise and we sold a good num­ber of kits.

“The key part of it be­ing in its sec­ond year is it needed to be able to stand up fi­nan­cially but the build progress wasn’t as quick as we hoped for. We con­cluded in or­der for it to progress it would need to be grid shar­ing with some­thing else.

“As dif­fi­cult and painful as it was, we knew within the BRSCC port­fo­lio there wasn’t any­thing else we could mix it with. We had to do the right thing for the for­mula and the peo­ple in­vested in it al­ready. The in­dus­try is loaded with eight, nine, 10 car grids and that is not what we wanted to do with it. We got into talks with two or three dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions all able to of­fer it a fi­nan­cially strong place to race.”

The 750MC launched the M3 Cup last sea­son but com­pe­ti­tions sec­re­tary Giles Groom­bridge be­lieves the two BMW cat­e­gories can co-ex­ist.

“It shouldn’t be seen as try­ing to com­pete against the M3 Cup as the M3 is a higher per­for­mance car,” he said. “It’s com­pet­ing more with a se­ries like Pro­duc­tion BMWS.”

Groom­bridge added the 330 Chal­lenge could act as a step­ping stone to the M3 Cup and is con­fi­dent it can be­come a pop­u­lar se­ries.

“With some ad­just­ments to the con­cept I think we will make a suc­cess of it,” he said. “We will make some changes to the reg­u­la­tions to make it cheaper and give it a bet­ter chance.”

Pho­tos: Rachel Bourne, Steve Jones

330 Chal­lenge didn’t get off the ground in ’16

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