HTC Car & Driver Profile: Duncan MacKellar and the 1990 Italian Superturismo Championship Schnitzer BMW M3


HTC Car & Driver Profile: Duncan MacKellar and the 1990 Italian Superturismo Championship Schnitzer BMW M3

After a successful 2017 Heritage Touring Cars season in the ex-Anthony Reid Asahi Kiko JTCC BMW M3, Duncan MacKellar has returned to Heritage Touring Cars competition for 2018 and brought with him the 1990 Italian Superturismo Championship Schnitzer BMW M3 of Roberto Ravaglia.

The car, M3/1-154, was prepared by Schnitzer in May, 1990, to contest the Italian Superturismo Championship, along with a sister M3 that would contest the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft. Roberto Ravaglia was given the bulk of driving duties, with Johnny Cecotto and five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans-winner Emanuele Pirro also supporting the team.

Ravaglia had some spent some time in Australia in the late ‘80s, contesting the Bathurst 1000 three times as well as the 1987 Bob Jane T-Marts 500 at Calder Park in Melbourne. He came away with second in the 1985 James Hardie 1000 driving with Johnny Cecotto, had a rather infamous coming together with John Goss in 1986 and ended up collapsing after driving the ’87 race with bruised ribs that he earned in a crash during qualifying.

Ravaglia finished his Australian run on a high, at least. In 1987 the James Hardie 1000 and the Bob Jane T-Marts 500 at Calder Park were part of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship. Ravaglio claimed a second at Calder Park and went on to win the 1987 World Touring Car Championship – one of his seven touring car championship titles.

1990 Italian Superturismo Championship Schnitzer BMW M3

Fast forward to 1990 and, fresh from winning the 1989 DTM series in an M3, Ravaglia would have a monster season in the Italian Superturismo Championship. With the help of our car, M3/1-154, he won seven races and handily took the title.

Schnitzer and the M3 would then head to the streets of Macau for the Guia Race of Macau.  Emanuele Pirro piloted the car, driving it to second place. It’s from this race that the car takes its classic works BMW livery. Duncan MacKellar explains; “We went with the Macau livery because it’s quite rare to have an M3 finished with BMW Motorsport GMBH on the side, and they had that on the car for 1990.”

A week after Macau, the team was in Wellington, New Zealand, with the sister car, set to contest the Nissan Mobil 500. Pirro and Cecotto were behind the wheel, and deftly steered it to victory ahead of the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth of Peter Brock and Andrew Miedecke and the RS500 of Dick Johnson and John Bowe.

Duncan MacKellar has competed with Heritage Touring Cars since 2016, debuting in a Shinzu Japanese Touring Car Championship Sierra and going on to drive an ANZ Sierra and the Asahi M3. He became custodian of the Schnitzer car in 2017.

1990 Italian Superturismo Championship Schnitzer BMW M3

“We found out about the Schnitzer M3 through a BMW contact and were able to make it happen. I wanted a works car, so I was pleased to find this car. It’s also a later specification than my previous M3.”

“It’s pretty cool to have found a car that was used in winning a championship, and even more special to have that contact directly with Schnitzer in Germany. Through the car we were able to meet Team Principle Karl “Charly” Lamm, half-brother to Schnitzer founders Josef and Herbert Schnitzer. We met him at Bathurst, when he was busy putting an M6 on pole!”

“It was awesome to meet him, and through that meeting we were able to verify the logbook and the car itself.”

“The history of the cars is super important to me and Heritage Touring Cars is one of the best historic Group A categories in the world today. Our Group A and Group C history is unique, and in Europe everyone knows the special Aussie cars.”

“I like the international flavour of Group A and think it brings something special to the category. Back in ’87 the world’s best were out here racing with our cars in the World Touring Car Championship. That was a truly amazing time in history.”

“Our car ran consistently in historics in Germany and was in good racing shape when we bought it. The previous owners had restored it to the 1990 Macau livery, but the paint had seen its fair share of races so we had the outside repainted. That was nearly all we had to do. We left the interior and everything else original.”

“In its Group A touring car form, the M3 is a true stand-out. Having driven the Shinzu and ANZ Sierras for a while, I appreciate the M3 even more. The Sierra is more of a sledgehammer, whereas the M3 is a scalpel.”

“Last year we had a good run and found ourselves leading the championship going in the last round. The M3s are good at Lakeside and we had a wet race at Sydney that we were able to capitalise on.”

“I take the events one weekend at a time. It’s fun travelling and racing with your mates, and bringing some friends along when you can. The Heritage Touring Cars guys are an awesome group, and great to race with. Plus you have friends along in the pit garage giving you a hand. Barry Lock has become a good friend of mine and is instrumental in setting the car up. He’s also an ex-Formula 1 engineer, which helps!”

“Jason ‘Shaggy’ McLean is the head mechanic on the car. He’s a BMW Master Tech and his knowledge is invaluable.”

We’d like to send a big ‘Thank you!’ to Duncan MacKellar for chatting with us about the car, life and racing. We’re looking forward to seeing more of the Schnitzer M3 as we progress through the 2018 Heritage Touring Cars season and beyond.

Stay tuned to for more from the Legends of Bathurst. Heritage Touring Cars will take to the track again at Muscle Car Masters at Sydney Motorsport Park over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, June 9 – 10.

Images thanks to Duncan MacKellar

Round 2 – ARDC Muscle Car Masters at Sydney Motorsport Park, New South Wales, June 9 – 10

Round 3 – HRCC Historic Queensland at Morgan Park, Warwick, Queensland, July 14 – 15

Round 4 – HSCC Baskerville Historics, Baskerville, Tasmania, September 22-23

Round 5 – VHRR Historic Sandown, Sandown Raceway, Victoria, November 10 – 11