In 1987 Frank Gardner’s JPS team built 6 car.
Car 1. This was a dressed up M3.
Car 2. Owned by Jim Richards
Car 3. Now a BMW Art Car
Car 4. Now a BMW Art Car
Car 5. My car
The old 635 CSi finally retired as BMW’s flagship touring car racer. It was replaced by the BMW M3, which unlike the 635 CSi was much more of a purpose built race car, powered by a high-revving 2.3 litre, 4cyl Formula 2 engine. JPS Team BMW built a total of 6 M3s for a full assault on the 1987 Australian Touring Car Championship for Richards and Longhurst, with Richards marking the M3’s world debut by putting the little car on pole for the opening round of the ATCC at Calder Park.
The 2.3L M3 was in theory only a middle class car that was built for the longer races of the World and European touring car championships, however due to the combination of the M3’s high revving engine (which produced approximately 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS)), light weight (940 kg (2,100 lb)), large brakes and superb handling saw it easily match and often beat the outright class cars in 1987.
After a tight struggle with the Nissan Skyline’s of George Fury and Glenn Seton in the 1987 ATCC which went down to the last race at Oran Park, Richards emerged victorious with four wins from the nine rounds. The team then competed in Australia’s end of season endurance events as well as the Australian and New Zealand rounds of the 1987 World Touring Car Championship season. Richards and Longhurst combined to win the Pepsi 250 at Oran Park while repeating their 1985 result by finishing 4th at Bathurst. The teams second M3 was driven by 1986 ATCC winner Robbie Francevic from New Zealand and the teams engine builder who had also driven in the last two rounds of the ATCC, Ludwig Finauer. Francevic & Finauer finished in 5th place at the Sandown 500 and 6th at Bathurst.
The win in the Pepsi 250 would prove to be the final ever race win for JPS Team BMW. Its first win came when Allan Grice won the opening race of the 1981 AMSCAR series.
Following the 1987 season team boss Frank Gardner decided to retire from motor racing at the age of 57, although he would make a comeback of sorts in 1988 when he became Team Manager/consultant for Longhurst’s newly formed team Tony Longhurst Racing running a Ford Sierra RS500. When Gardner retired he effectively shut down operations of JPS Team BMW. The team assets, including the BMW M3s were then sold to Peter Brock who ran them in the colours of Mobil in 1988 under the Advantage Racing banner. Brock’s team also took over as the factory supported BMW team in Australia. Jim Richards joined the Mobil 1 team for 1988. By this time the M3 was no longer competitive in the shorter sprint races of the ATCC against the high powered Ford Sierra RS500 and Richards finished fourth in the championship.