Original BMW E36 328i Group N Race Car

Restored: Anthony Taylor's A9 BMW 328iYears Raced: 1995 - 1999
Owner: Peter Kaye-Eddie
Built and prepared by: Evolution 2 Motorsport
Drivers: Geoff Goddard, Anthony Taylor, Steve Wyndham, Shaun van der Linde

Current Owner/ Drivers:
Rui and Keegan Campos (of Campos Transport)
Restored by: Evolution 2 Motorsport

The car that could have been: When the E36 shaped 3 Series was first launched and then raced in a 325i guise, there was much disappointment among those drivers who were tasked with racing them. The car was labelled to heavy and under powered, not surprising seeing that the car had to live up to the legacy left by the E30 3 Series and the BMW 325is Evo II.

However when the 2.8 litre straight six BMW 328i was launched in 1995, many of the issues experienced with the 325i had been overcome. During this period the Class A Stannic Group N Championship was hard fought by a gaggle of BMW’s driven by Robbi Smith (Firestone Firehawk), Geoff Goddard (Firestone Firehawk) and Grant Van Schalkwyk (Transtech Batteries). There opponents were two Mazda MX5’s driven by Ben Morgenrood and Roelf Du Plessis running under the Sasol colours. In the 1995 and 1996 seasons Van Schalkwyk had the upper hand and would be crowned Class A champion in both years.

In 1997 Van Schalkwyk’s BMW 328i was put up for sale, in an instant Peter Kaye-Eddie and Alec Ceprnich were visiting the car at Grant’s fathers workshop. The deal was done and the Beemer was purchased, along with plenty of spares and a pedigree of being an outright race and championship winner. However the 1997 would present various challenges in the form of factory backed Nissan Maxima’s, who were big and bulky, but did have a mighty 3.2 litre V6 motor that had a significant power advantage over the BMW’s.

The BMW 2.8 litre straight sixAt the beginning of the year former BMW works driver, Geoff Goddard, was asked to drive the car while Alec Ceprnich was responsible for all preparation. Running as a privately run team against far more established competitors such as the Craig and Juby Nissan's and the Firestone Firehawk BMW of Robbi Smith, the first few races were a learning curve for the team who were trying to understand the car and work with it’s strengths. In a one off appearance at Killarney in Cape Town touring car ace Shaun van der Linde was invited to drive the car. From the word go the white BMW with minimal support set the pace over the weekend and proceeded to win both races with relative ease.

“Geoff helped shake off the cobwebs, Peter and myself had been out of racing for a year,” explains Alec. “We needed time to understand the BMW 328i, however data passed down from Van Schalkwyk did help in the beginning. The car was consistent and we achieved podium finishes, however a win was missing. When Shaun drove the car in Cape Town we realized the potential of it and our need as a team to have a younger, fitter and far more aggressive driver behind the wheel. Geoff filled a void and got us going in a respective way, his set-up expertise really helped providing a fantastic basis for more race fit drivers to take us to the next level”.

After much thinking Ceprnich recommended that Anthony Taylor, who had been racing touring cars but had no drive, be giving a test session at the old Zwartkops raceway. Many who were present on the day can remember Taylor taking to the track and setting competitive lap times. When bringing the car in and seeing his lap times displayed on the pit board Anthony told the team he did not think that he was suitable for the drive. Shocked and disappointed Ceprnich and Kaye–Eddie inquired why this was the case, Taylor remarked that his times were not competitive enough, reason being that he was comparing times he used set in his BMW touring car to the Group N BMW 328i.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree...Taylor accepted the offer and drove the car now sponsored by Auto Bavaria for the rest of the 1997, showing plenty of aggression and winning a couple of races. In 1998 the team switched over from Goodyear tyres to Firestone examples, much focus was placed on optimizing the handling of the car as the team new that playing catch up to the Nissan’s in the power output stakes would not reap them any advantages. This philosophy came good at the Killarney race circuit where Taylor comprehensively won both races. Knowing that they were in with a chance for the Class A title the Evolution 2 Motorsport team built a second BMW 328i. Experienced campaigner Steve Wyndam was asked to drive the second car for the remainder of the year, while Taylor took over the new one. The championship battle with John Craig went down to the last race of the year. After countless incidents between the BMW and Nissan entries, one so extreme where Devon Juby blatantly took out Taylor earning him a ban for the rest of the year. In the end Taylor and his Auto Bavaria BMW lost the title to Craig by half a point, the championship may have been if Nissan had not employed aggressive and unsportsmanlike tactics.

The two BMW 328i’s went onto to race in the 1999 season with Wyndam taking the Class A title, while in 2000 the E36 made way for the E46 3 series. Although raced against the E46, the older 3 had an inevitable disadvantage over the new car, leading to it being withdrawn from racing in 2001. A couple of years on and after various owners for different purposes the older of the BMW 328i’s initially raced by Van Schalkwyk, then Goddard, van der Linde and the Taylor, arrived back at it’s ancestral home, Evolution 2 Motorsport.

The car had been purchased and the owner wanted it restored in its original Group N livery. Much work was needed and what made all the difference in the outcome was the small touches that Ceprnich gave the car to ensure it looked similar to how it raced in 1998. When the 'A9' BMW 328i with Anthony Taylor’s name on the side window was finally finished quite a hype was created. The car was taken to a show at the Cedar Isle BMW dealership attracting plenty of attention. Anthony Taylor was reunited with the car that may have been responsible for reigniting his career, needless to say he was itching to get out on the track with it. The test was arranged and Taylor was fittingly provided his wish, immediately he once again set fast lap times, this time he did not make the same mistake of remarking that he was not suited to the car.

If there ever was a driver he took the fight to the Nissan’s it was him and if he and the Evolution 2 Motorsport team managed to win the 1998 championship it would have made the world of difference to the car’s history and pedigree. For this reason the E36 BMW 328i nearly made a name for itself as a great car. Today the car is owned by Rui Campos (of Campos Transport) and is used to taxi clients around the track at track days, and campaigned in some historic racing events by Rui and Keegan.

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