All men equal - BMW M1 ProCar series

In 1979 and 1980 Didier took part in the so-called Procar series, races that were driven with identical BMW M1. Didier was not extremely successful, he even got a reputation as a crash-pilot but nevertheless these 470 PS cars looked great and they are a part of racing history as well as of Didier's career.

The Procar races followed the final qualifying session of a Grand Prix. In addition to a number of fix starters, mainly privateers, a works BMW was given to the first five drivers of Friday's Formula One qualifying session. If a driver refused to start the sixth, seventh... driver moved up.

Ferrari, Renault and Michelin didn't let their drivers start in the ProCar so there was no chance to see Scheckter, Villeneuve, Jabouille or Arnoux in an M1.

First round of ProCar was Zolder 1979 and sadly Didier qualified only twelvth so he was not allowed in the ProCar race that was won by Elio de Angelis, who replaced fix starter Eddie Cheever who had to drive an F2 race at Vallelunga.

At Monaco Didier qualified seventh but as the two Ferraris were on the front row he had accomplished a fifth place
on the ProCar grid. I'm not sure but he obviously didn't start the race.

At Dijon Didier qualified eleventh but was allowed to start the ProCar race that he finished with a fine third place behind Piquet and Jones. Due to his 15th starting place he didn't take part in the race at Silverstone that was won by Niki Lauda. Hockenheim finally saw Didier in fourth place but he surely didn't make friends with the other drivers especially not with Hans-Joachim Stuck who insulted him because Didier closed the doors wherever possible. At Zeltweg he reached another third place after a longlasting battle with Clay Regazzoni. He wasn't qualified for the races at Zandvoort and Monza and so he reached an eighth place overall.

The qualifying mode was changed for the 1980 season. Following the privateers' laments the F1 drivers had to start from the positions they accomplished in the ProCar qualifying session and not generally from the first five places on the grid. For the start of the 1980 season Didier qualified third at Donington. In the race he came up to second on lap 13 but at the end of the penultimate lap his BMW M1 suddenly stopped due to elctronic failure.
The second race took place on the Berlin Avus. Didier qualified a disappointing 8th but he took the lead from Manfred Schurti already at the middle of the race. Sadly he dropped out of the race five laps before the end due to a gearbox problem.

Another eventful race followed along with the Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco. In a really "crashful" race Didier pushed the leading Jan Lammers into the crash-barriers at Loews on the second lap and fell so far back that in the end he only accomplished a 9th place.

Fourth round was on the German Norisring at Nuremberg. Didier started as fourth but had a spin on the second lap and dropped back to the end of the field. Finally he got rammed by Nelson Piquet and gave up the race.

At Brands Hatch Didier even started from the first row, had a better start than pole-sitter Marc Surer but took the first corner very wide so that Surer tried to pass him on the inside but Didier shut the door, pushed Surer into the grass and out of the race at Druids. Didier managed to go on but spun on the same lap and fell back to seventh place. Later he drove the fastest lap but again didn't accomplish a good result.

Within the scope of the F1 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheim the sixth round of the 1980 ProCar Series took place. Didier starts as second on the grid. Together with Stuck and Surer he pursued the leading Manfred Schurti. On the fifth lap Stuck tried to overtake Pironi before the first chicane - with a collision as a result. Stuck spun at 250 km/h while Pironi took the emergency exit, got back on the track and followed Schurti again who he managed to overtake before the Ostkurve-chicane on lap 8. Meanwhile there was danger from behind as Marc Surer came closer and closer and finally attacked Didier and passed him before the Ostkurve on lap 13. Didier braked too late, willingly or not, and crashed into the rear of Surer's BMW that left the track and hit the crash-barriers. Didier's M1 stayed undamaged and he even reached his first win of this ProCar-season lifting him up to sixth place in the overall standings.

After the race Stuck's GS team protested but it was defeated. Nevertheless Stuck let himself be carried away during a TV interview to call Pironi a murderer - he later had to apologize for that at Zeltweg where Didier qualified second once more but couldn't start the race due to electrical problems that occurred just before the start.
He didn't start at Zandvoort either but this time because of his bad F1 qualifying session.

Then at Imola he was back again, qualified for the first row but spun due to a brake problem and had to give up. Altogether he reached a poor 10th, the championship was won by Nelson Piquet. Finally Didier was offered a Porsche 935 Turbo for the penultimate race of the DRM (German Racing Championship), he accepted enthusiastically but then didn't appear, probably his new employer Ferrari had intervened.

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