Race of My Life: Roberto Ravaglia

DTM Hockenheim – 11th October 1992

This article first appeared in the 10th July edition of Autosport magazine

“Motor Racing is all about emotion and I will never forget the range of them I felt at Hockenheim in 1992. It was the last race weekend for the BMW M3 and after six years of developing and racing the car, it felt like I was saying goodbye to a great old friend.

Ravaglia with former Schnitzer GT team mate Peter Kox at Silverstone in May

“I was the first to drive the M3 at the end of 1986 and I went on to do a lot of development work for the Schnitzer team. I was lucky enough to have guys like Emmanuele Pirro, Roland Ratzenberger and Ivan Capelli as my team mates in the BMW M3, so I remember those times as my ‘golden years ‘ in the sport.

“Between 1987 and 1992 I won many races in the BMW M3 and always stayed true to Charly Lamm and the Schnitzer team. We won the one-off World title in 1987 and then we won the European crown too before the DTM went our way the following year. It was a remarkable three year period for us and everything seemed to bond perfectly between me as the driver, Charly as team manager and of course the great M3.

“In 1992, BMW announced that they would be finishing in the DTM so it was a really tough season. The Mercedes-Benz was quicker for most of that year as we had stopped development of our car. But something magical happened on that day in Hockenheim as we went to write the final beautiful chapter for the M3.

“I actually cannot remember full details of the race but I know I qualified in third position. The race was a dogfight all the way between the pole sitter I and Kurt Thiim, but also Klaus Ludwig was right there too. Klaus though was not getting too involved as he was fighting for the title and needed to guarantee a finish for crucial points.

“The final few laps were completely over the limit. I got in to that mental zone where the focus and instincts are so well concentrated that all you see is the back of the car that is in front of you. There was simply no way I was not going to win that race and seeing the look Kurt gave me in the mirrors! Well, he knew it too!

“By the last lap I had caught the Mercedes and as we came in to the ‘Motordrome’ section I dived in to the left hand hairpin and snatched the lead. All I remember is hearing the crowd roaring from the grandstands. It was unreal, like a fairytale. It made me so happy.

“I got back to parc ferme and I remember just sitting for a few seconds in the car on my own. I was really emotional. The team were very happy but also crying at the same time because it was the last race weekend for the BMW M3. The car was just so special and to do the first few kilometres in it and then come right around to take the last win was a nice accomplishment. It is definitely the best race car I ever drove and I think it will become an icon of motor sport in the future, if it is not so already.”

Roberto Ravaglia

After a brief F3 career in the early 80s, Roberto Ravaglia became one of the most successful Touring Car drivers of all-time winning the ETCC twice in 1986 and 1988, as well as the first ever WTCC in 1987 as well. A DTM crown followed in 1989 followed by three Spa 24 Hours wins. After retirement the Roman set up his own team –  ROAL Motorsport which continues his close links with BMW in the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2013.

 

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