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Wednesday, May 22, 2024


A FORMER Bathurst race-winning factory BMW Motorsport Australia Super Tourer has popped up on the market – in Norway!

The 1995-built chassis 318i (chassis E36 STC 95/035) has appeared for sale online this week in its European base colours, however it enjoyed a long racing history Down Under, firstly with the Diet-Coke factory team and later with privateers Luke and Troy Searle.

The car reportedly raced in the 1995 German ADAC Super TourenWagen (Super Touring) Cup and that year’s Spa and Nurburgring 24 Hour races before being imported to Australia in 1996 by the BMW Motorsport Australia squad and initially used as a test car.

It became Charlie O’Brien’s race chassis when he joined the Lyall Williamson-run team partway through the season and ran as the team’s third car (with backing from sponsors including Sizzler and Crown Casino) alongside its entries for Paul Morris and Geoff Brabham.

Kiwi Craig Baird took over the chassis for the non-championship AMP Bathurst 1000 support races that year (with Castrol backing). He took pole position, won the first two races and finished fourth in the wet Sunday morning race.

PODCAST: We go down Super Touring memory lane

WATCH: Super Tourers under lights at Calder, 1995

The car was sold off to the privateer Searle team of father David and sons Troy and Luke and spent many years in their hands.

Troy and Luke shared the car over the following years in the Australian Super Touring Championship and it made two Bathurst 1000 starts, finishing seventh in the brothers’ hands in 1998 – that race is now available to buy on DVD.

The Searles regularly started at the rear of the grid for races in the BOC Gases-backed Super Touring Championship, their Seventh Day Adventist religious beliefs precluding them from competing in qualifying sessions on Saturdays.

Their BMW initially ran in a plain white livery with backing from Roadchill Express, though a change in sponsorship from SAE meant a change to black and blue livery in late 1999.

The Searles ran the car through to the end of the era of TOCA Australia operating the Super Touring Championship and into the subsequent Super Touring Series and Touring Car Challenge.

The BMW in action at the 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour, the last time a Super Tourer competed in a period Bathurst endurance race. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

Alan Gurr drove the car to win the 2002 Australian Super Touring Series in the post-TOCA era and teamed with Geoff Full (who had shared it in the ’97 Bathurst 1000 with Troy Searle), Alex Yoong and Luke Searle in the car in the 2003 Bathurst 24 Hour.

It was sold off to Norway at the end of 2010 and, according to the advertisement on Racecarsdirect here, the car comes with a totally rebuilt engine and a complete spare 1995 powerplant.

The BMW as it sits now. Photo: Racecarsdirect
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