In 1974 came a french driver, Daniël Brillat, in contact with me and asked me if we can build a “group 2″ racing car to drive the 24 hours of Le Mans.
He told me the amount of his budget and which companies sponsored him, included the French tyre brand Cleber-Colombes (Kleber) and Esso for the fuel.
Because his budget was not very high, I asked him to give me sometime to weigh all possibilities to fulfil his dream.
Pretty soon we found out that it was impossible to compete the cars of the fabric teams of BMW and Ford.
BMW’s CLS and the Ford Capri’s were not within our reach.
The budget was too low and it was not a good idea to buy an other car than BMW.
No other factory will approved when you go against their rules.
And after all for several years we are already BMW dealer.
But the factory team of BMW race their bets so high that we couldn’t follow.
That is why I suggested Mr.Brillat to build a car that was on one side pretty fast but on the other side was also very relaible.
Because we had a lot of experience in 2002 racing cars and because we are a company specialiazed in producing formula 2 engines, we thought of a combination of this 2. Our thought was “many roads lead to Rome”.
I explained to Mr.Brillat that a good BMW 2002 with an F2 engine was a racing car that was small, light, pretty fast and relaible. And one that he, and also us, could afford.
But our race could only be a good one if the big guys would get into trouble. I expected that the factory teams would fight each other til the bitter end.
I had heard that BMW Motorsport GmbH had developed a prototype,
a 2002 with a F2 engine, but that the car was long forgotten.
So I called BMW Motorsport asking them if they would sell the car to me,
because we had plans to modify the car to race it in Le Mans.
I suspect they had very big laugh about it,
but the next morning we got the approval what we were waiting for.
Immediately I contacted mr.Brillat and told him this.
I also explained to him what kind of adjustments we would do on the car, because Le Mans has its own rules.
He agreed with our offer. Then he paid his first payment, so we could start our “Mission Impossible”.
We got the BMW from Munchen. We stripped it totally and examined every part of it.
Next we made a list of all modifications we would do: brakes, fuel system, steering wheel house, dynamo driven by the cardan axel and of course modifications to the engine.
We bought all the needed parts and start building.
After everything was done and the car was rebuild, we went to France for the tire tests.
Cleber-Colombes, later bought by Michelin, had almost no experience with a small car like this,
but the tests went extremely well and everybody was very satisfied with the results.
To us the tests and the co-operation with Cleber-Colombes was totally new, because until then we needed to adjust the car to the tires.
Mr.Brillat was very satisfied with the car. According to him the car drove as like a go-kart, only a little faster…
I mean, a car from that time, provided with our 1000 kg engine with 260 hp at 8500 rpm was certainly not bad.
One week before the actual race, to get everything in order and to be ready in time, two of our mechanics went to the circuit with the car. We wished them all the luck in the world.
Unfortunately I was not able to join them, because at that same time it was extremely busy in my own company.
This was my living, so my friend and my chief went along with the mechanics to France.
They were in charge over the whole operation.
Later they said that when they arrived at the circuit, people laughed at them and began to ask silly questions.
There was even one who asked us if we in Liechtenstein really knew what Le Mans was all about.
Of course we knew, but we had no choice than to race with the given budget.
Eventually the day of the race was there so we could finally start.
The longer the race, the more my predictions came true.
The speed of the BMW’s and Ford’s was much to high for us.
But when the night fell, all 4 factory cars were already disappeared from the arena,
while our little flying machine was stil screaming over the circuit.
Imagine the sound of that 4 cylinder engine!
The factory teams closed their pits-boxes and went to their hotels.
To them the 24 hours of Le Mans was over.
Not to us…
After about 20 hours, the gentlemen of BMW saw that our little car was still in the race with the chance to win the race. They opened up their pits-boxes again and after 23 hours they cooled up the champagne and the beer, just in case…
In the end we won the race and our dream came true.
The team of Mr.Brillat, his friends and our mechanics were extremely happy.
I can’t describe the feeling. When I heard this fantastic news, for minutes I couldn’t believe it.
Looking back this probably is the most important victory in our racing history.
We arrived in Le Mans as the little David, but we came home as the incredible happy Goliath.