Ready, aim? BMW!

Text: Danie Botha
Photography: Jannie Herbst

Chris du Plooy, RFS Motorsport’s leader (and owner) and himself a seasoned off-road racer who ran at the sharp-ish end of national races in 2009, has a proud look about him.

We’re talking BMW X3 off-road-racing vehicle, and it’s a project close to his heart. And it is all coming together now, with the all-new X3 expected to be ready for racing very soon.

“We recently flew in a technician from Bosch Motorsport in Germany to help us with the engine’s electronic mapping,” says Chris.

“It’s the very same guy who did the mapping for Peugeot’s Le Mans-winning turbodiesel race cars, so he knows his stuff.”

Ah, a window of opportunity, and the perfect timing for the question: “So Chris, how much horsepower and torque are we talking here?”

Chris smiles.

“A lot.”

Okay, so it’s clear that we are not going to get any numbers out of Chris. So let’s talk BMW turbodiesel racing engines.

“The BMW X3 X-Raid machines used on the Dakar event cost about R20-million each. They use a specially developed 2,9-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine that churns out about 1000Nm of torque. But this engine, of which probably not more than 10 have been manufactured, plays a leading role in that R20-million asking price. Our local motorsport rules dictate that a production-based engine must be used for the premier Super Production class (SP). The rules also prevented us from fitting an independent rear suspension, so a solid axle is our only option,” explains Chris.

Hannes Grobler, motorsport legend and soon-to-be BMW X3 racing driver, chirps in.

“Some say that you can simply add a very powerful engine to an existing package and you’ve got a race-winning machine. But in off-road racing the suspension plays a vital role. Get it wrong and all the horses in the world won’t enable you to go fast over the rough stuff without breaking something. So it’s a combination of power, suspension and reliability that makes the difference. That’s why we haven’t cut any corners with the BMW. The shocks for instance, are Reiger items? the best money can buy. So we will have the handling and the speed,” says the multiple champion, as his eyes caress the spaceframe design that will soon be a full-blown class SP BMW X3 racer.

Ah-hah, window of opportunity number two, and the perfect timing for the question: “So Hannes, how much horsepower and torque are we talking here?

Hannes smiles his naughty-boy smile.

*Off course you want to know more! This is history in the making, so get your hands on the latest Leisure Wheels. On sale now!