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Silverstone Classic 2017: JPS BMW 635CSi to make European debut

Published 07 June 2017

One of the most exciting touring cars from recent years will be making its European debut at this summer’s Silverstone Classic on 28-30 July.

It will be the first time that the JPS BMW 635CSi has ever been seen outside its native Australasia. The black and gold icon will be piloted by none other than Jim Richards - its original driver.

As a seven-time winner of the legendary Bathurst 1000 race and multiple Australian touring car titles, Richards is well known to motorsport fans.

Richards first got behind the wheel of the BMW 635 CSi in 1983, driving for the renowned Frank Gardner Racing team. Back then, Australia had its own Group C touring car regulations permitting more freedom than the widely-adopted Group A rulebook.

But it wasn’t a dream start as the car struggled against Fords and Holdens with more powerful V8s engines.

JPS BMW 635 CSi (2)

But when Australia finally adopted the international Group A formula in 1985, things changed for the better. Richards won seven of the ten rounds and, with them, the inaugural Australian Touring Car Championship title. In a golden year for JPS Team BMW, Richards also went undefeated in the AMSCAR Series and then added the Australian Endurance Championship crown by winning five out of six races.

The BMW was still in this de-tuned Group A specification when acquired by its current owner - New Zealand collector Peter Sturgeon. However, Richards and Pip Baker, who had worked with Frank Gardner back in the day, convinced Sturgeon to put the 635 CSi back into its more dramatic Group C guise.

‘Pip adopted the project and it took him almost 18 months to complete. It was worth all the effort, though, as the final result is utterly amazing,’ enthused Sturgeon who is now flying the car halfway around the world to be at the Silverstone Classic.

Sturgeon said, ‘The sound of the straight-six, twin-cam engine revving at more than 8000rpm is something all petrol heads should hear,’ he continued. ‘In Group C form, this is the one and only 24-valve engined BMW 635 ever raced and to have Jim back driving it is very, very special.’

Richards and BMW will be competing on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the event in the two Super Touring Car Trophy showdowns, which will feature two grids racing simultaneously. The more modern Super Tourers from the nineties will line up in front and take the first rolling start. Then, 30 seconds later, a combined grid of Group 1, Group A and now Group C racers will flash across the line.

All tickets for the event must be purchased in advance. Adult admission starts at £43 and weekend camping and hospitality upgrades are available. Full details available at: silverstoneclassic.com

Silverstone Classic

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