32 years on: Eric van de Poele and Marc Hessel reunited as teammates

32 years on: Eric van de Poele and Marc Hessel reunited as teammates

14.05.2019: 2.0 Automotive opens the Touringcar Classics season 2019 up with a bang. With the driver pairing Eric van de Poele and Marc Hessel sharing a former BMW M3 works car, entered in the German touring championship DTM by team Zakspeed and fully restored by the

2.0 Automotive opens the Touringcar Classics season 2019 up with a bang. With the driver pairing Eric van de Poele and Marc Hessel sharing a former BMW M3 works car, entered in the German touring championship DTM by team Zakspeed and fully restored by the German classic car experts, takes fans on a journey back in time to the 1987 season opener at Zolder, when one of them took pole position on his home circuit, but the younger of the two rookies took the race win. Fast forward to the 1987 season finale and the team-mates became protagonists of one of the most dramatic DTM title deciders of all time.

It was the year 1987, the DTM, or Deutsche Tourewagen Meisterschaft if you dig German language, had established itself in the public's favour after three seasons, especially as the attempt to even out the performance of Group A cars of all sizes and power outputs seemed to work perfectly well. The homologation of the BMW M3's racing version got accomplished just in time for the season opening race. With 315 bhp at an incredible 9,600 rpm and a roaring intake noise, the new challenger from Bavaria featured an engine sound that immediately hit a soft spot not only with the fans and heralded an era in DTM that formed the foundation for the success story of one of the world's most successful touring car series ever.

Zakspeed was assigned as BMW's works team in the DTM and got handed two hungry youngsters as factory drivers for the two M3s: Eric van de Poele and Marc Hessel. And the juniors did well from the outset, although they hardly had any opportunity to familiarise themselves with their new equipment beforehand due to a quarrel between BMW Motorsport GmbH and the FIA, regarding production tolerances in relation to the M3's homologation sheet. At the DTM season opener at Hockenheim the Belgian finished second, his German team colleague in fourth.

At the next race at Zolder circuit, Marc had to start from 23rd on the grid after losing a wheel on his qualifying lap. Promoted into a works driver status from Formula Ford, the tin top rookie flew past no less than 22 competitors on a wet track to take victory in his only second touring car race. His team-mate, who had started into the race as the local hero and pole-setter, ended up in tenth after clashing with an opponent. On the other hand, BMW rejoiced over the first victory of an M3 works car and Zakspeed over the traditional racing team's 100th race win.

The two Zakspeed boys fought for the top of the championship table from the outset - and thus unsurprisingly soon evolved to title contenders. After all, the two DTM newcomers were the only permanent entrants to score points in every race - in their first year as works drivers. Until the season finale at the Salzburgring in Austria Eric had clinched two podium finishes with a third and a second place respectively at the airfield races in Wunstorf and Diepholz, his 22-year-old team-mate finished just behind the respective winner at the Norisring and ahead of him in Wunstorf.

In the final showdown of that season at the Salzburgring the two BMW juniors and Ford driver Manuel Reuter were still in for a shot at the title. Eric started the race as the championship leader and in a nerve-wrecking race finally reaped the DTM championship title in 1987, even though he hadn't manage to clinch a single victory during the season. Reliability and constannt points scoring, plus some luck in the turbulent finale secured the 25-year-old the DTM in his first attempt.

A small consolation came for Eric a few weeks later with victory in non-championship race at Hockenheim, featuring the entire DTM grid but at the time not yet part of the calendar. It was Eric van de Poele's last race in a Zakspeed BMW M3 E30 for the time being. After 32 years, Eric's comeback at the wheel of the M3, rebuilt in detail by German race car restorers 2.0 Automotive from Düsseldorf, and as team mate of his old friend and companion Marc Hessel, during the DTM weekend at Zolder will be like an episode of DTM history coming alive again.


Sebastian Küppers, team principal 2.0Automotive:
"In 2017, when I first met Marc Hessel, I had so many questions about that legendary DTM finale in 1987. Along the lines we had countless conversations, the subsequent cooperation with Marc and the resulting friendship and trust, today I can understand what it meant for Marc to have a friend in Eric - and to lose sight of him for decades in view of the situation back then.

What impressed me most of all was that Marc always spoke openly about the backgrounds of that season and always praised Eric and that season they lived side-by-side. Having Eric visiting our garage during our first roll-out in April 2018 at the Nürburgring certainly underlined what I had been told. This year we suddenly found ourselves in a position to bring the two friends from their Formula Ford days back together in the same team.

Hessel and van de Poele.... Zakspeed M3.... DTM comeback... and all of that at Zolder circuit!

I was really excited when I called Eric to make him an offer. He was immediately thrilled by the idea, didn't hesitate to seal an agreement. For me personally a circle closes here, because Zolder 1987 was the first DTM race I was able to experience trackside as a spectator, watching Marc Hessel and Eric van de Poele driving their Zakspeed entered cars and the first victory of a factory M3 was really exciting to watch. Very soon we'll have the two team-mates reunited to drive for our team. To say I'm excited clearly is an understatement!"

Marc Hessel:
"There's a wonderful book called "Mon Ami Mate" about team mates and F1 rivals Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorne. Sharing an original Zakspeed BMW M3 with my friend and teammate Eric van de Poele after 32 years is something along those lines. I am incredibly grateful to Sebastian Küppers from 2.0 Automotive, who are entering their car for us, and made this long overdue reunion as a team possible for us and all long term DTM fans. Eric was fantastic as a friend and opponent in the early days of our careers in the hotly contested European Formula Ford scene.

The highly emotional time at BMW, when we fought each other for the DTM title, created a special bond between the two of us. It's impossible not to reminisce about 1987, especially about my victory at the DTM round at Zolder circuit, which I, of course, remember very well. I'm really looking forward to our reunion for the Touringcar Classics season opener and I'm sure that we'll have a lot of fun!

Eric van de Poele:
"A few weeks ago my friend Marc (Hessel) contacted me and asked if I'd fancy to drive the ex-Zakspeed-M3 alongside him. Of course I was enthusiastic about this idea. I quickly agreed a deal with Sebastian Küppers of 2.0 Automotive and now I'm really looking forward to it.

The collaboration with Marc was fabulous back in the day. At my home race at Zolder, where we will now share a car together, I was bumped off the track, while Marc drove a great race and won, which, despite all the frustration, made me very happy for him and the whole team. Of course I was delighted to win the championship in the final race, because the whole team had been working so hard all season long. But of course I felt sorry for Marc, that was a tragic finish. But while I'm looking forward to driving the M3 again and to compete in a team alongside Marc, the nice thing is that Marc is competing for the Touringcar Classics Championship in 2019. The best result I therefore could possibly achieve at Zolder would be to help him to win the championship this time around by scoring a top result. I hope for that to happen as a small reparation for events back in the day."

2.0 Automotive - former football professional and long-term car and race fan Martin Stranzl and business partner Sebastian Küppers, both an accomplished technician and business economist, but also a former test and development driver at Bentley and team boss in the German VLN endurance Championship with corresponding expertise, formed 2.0 Automotive back in 2012. At the company's headquarters in Düsseldorf-Grafenberg, the two are implementing premium projects for automotive enthusiasts with a competent team of technicians. The objectives right from the start: To offer top services with the highest degree of individuality and quality to lovers of extravagant and rare automobiles and to support interested parteis with their experience and competence in the search of rare automobiles throughout Europe.

In addition to day-to-day work such as maintenance, repair and care of vehicles, the 2.0 Automotive premises are above all a plattform for individualising and optimising customer vehicles, as well as for project development and assembly of extraordinary road vehicles and race cars of all kinds. One focus is the restoration of sports and competition vehicles. Body and paint work as well as engine building, and transmission and differential revisions are carried out in-house.

2.0 Automotive has also gathered competence in restoring noble interiors, carries out saddler work using leather and Alcantara. If so required, the company also offer the option of manufacturing carbon fiber parts for both interior and exterior application on more modern verhicles.

In 2018 the company's competence in chassis technology and corresponding development work came to good use as the 2.0 Automotive decided to form their own racing division, teaming up with strong automotive industry partners, above all Ravenol motor oil, H&R suspension springs and BMW Brandenburg. They entered the ex-Zakspeed BMW M3 Group A racing car, entirely restored in-house and as close as possible to the original standard, in the German Touringcar Classics. In 2019, 2.0 Automotive will not only tackle their second Touringcar Classics season with the M3, but will also support their clients with racing amitions and enter customers' race cars in other series.

2.0 Automotive BMW M3 E30 Group A (ex works car/Zakspeed) – Tech Specs

MOTOR Engine code S14, front mounted longitudinal four-cylinder in-line, two overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder.

Displacement is 2,302 ccm, bore 93,4mm x stroke 84,0mm.

Output 315 HP at 9,600 rpm, compression rate 10.5 : 1.

Bosch Motronic electornic engine management.

DIMENSIONS Length 4355mm, width 1680mm and height 1330mm, wheelbase 2656.5mm.

NET WEIGHT 960 Kg, net weight according to DTM regulations was 1.040 Kg.

FUEL TANK 110 litres.

SUSPENSION Front: single-joint aluminium struts with height adjustment option, central lock wheels, adjustable anti-rollbar.

Rear: independent rear suspension with reinforced links and spherical plain bearings for camber and toe-in adjustment.

Adjustable suspension struts for height adjustment, adjustable anti-rollbar, central lock wheels.

Brakes front: 4-piston alloy calipers, ventilated brake disc, 332mm diameter,32mm disc thickness.

Rear: 4-piston light metal fixed caliper internally ventilated brake disc, 332mm diameter, 32mm disc thickness, 2 main brake cylinders, manuallym adjustable brake power distribution, hydraulic parking brake.

STEERING Rack & pinion short geared

WHEEL SIZE Optional 9 x 16 or 9 x 17

PERFOMANCE 0 to 100 Km/h in approx. 4.6 seconds, approx. 300 Km/h top speed



Date and place of birth: 30 September 1961 in Verviers, Belgium
Residence: Incourt, Belgium
Height: 178 cm
Marital status: Married to Nadine
Children: Alexis, Kelly, Nicolas, Diego, Luana
Hobbies: motorcycling, tennis and golfing
Profession learned: electrical mechanic
Favourite food: Italian and Thai food
Favourite drink: water
Favourite music: variety of music styles
First own car: a dark blue Fiat 127


1981 6 hours of Mettet on a BMW 2002 Ti
1982 Group N races in Belgium
1983 Top finisher Avia Racing School La Châtre / hill climb in Namur with Formula Ford 1600
1984 French Formula 3
1985 Belgian & Benelux FF1600 Champion / Belgian Touring Car Championship / 24h Spa / F3
1986 British Formula 3 / European Touring Car Championship / Formula Ford Festival
1987 DTM Champion with Zakspeed / victory 24h Spa-Francorchamps / German F3, 2 podiums
1988 ETCC with BMW / Formula Opel Euro Race Spa-Francorchamps, Pole and P2
1989 FIA Formula 3000 International Championship, GA Motorsport, Lola T89/50-Cosworth
1990 Runner-up FIA F3000 Intl Championship, GA Motorsport, Reynard 90D-Cosworth, 3 wins
1991 Formula 1, one race for Modena Team with Lamborghini 291, P9
1992 Formula 1, one race for Brabham with BT60B, three races for Fondmetal, P10
1993 Formula 1 test driver for Tyrrell / Belgian Procar Series
1994 BTCC, 22nd (Nissan, only took part in half of the season) / IMSA Series
1995 Spanish touring cars, 3rd (Nissan) / victory at the 12-hour race of Sebring
1996 Spanish touring cars, 5th (Nissan) / victory at the 12-hour race of Sebring
1997 FIA GT Championship, GT 1 class Lister Racing / US RoadRacing Championship / WSC-8.
1998 24h LeMans, LMP winner (Ferrari) / victory at Petit Le Mans (Ferrari)
1999 ALMS (Riley&Scott)
2000 ALMS, LMP class, Cadillac / Grand-Am, SR class, Risi Competizione & Cadillac

2001 FIA GT Championship, GT class, Team Rafanelli / Grand-Am Series, SRP class, Robinson
Racing & Risi Competizione / ELMS, LMP 675 class, Dick Barbour Racing / ALMS,
LMP675 class, Dick Barbour Racing / GrandAm Series, Champion Porsche

2002 FIA GT Championship, GT class, Lister Racing / ALMS class, LMP900 class, Panoz
Motorsports / Grand-Am Sportscar Series, SRP class, Risi Competizione, Ferrari 333 SP

2003 FIA GT Championship, GT class, Konrad Motorsport / ALMS, LMP900 class, Doran
Racing / Grand-Am Sportscar Series, GT class, Remo Ferri Competizione / GrandAm
Series, GT class, Remo Ferri Competizione

2004 FIA GT Championship, GT class, Konrad Motorsport / LeMans Endurance Series
(LMES), GTS class, A-Level Engineering

2005 ALMS, P2 class, Horag Racing / LeMans Endurance Series (LMES), LMP2 class,
Horag Racing, 1 win / FIA GT Championship, GT 1 class, Bartels Motor&Sport, 1 win /
LeMans Endurance Series (LMES), GT 1 class A-Level Engineering

2006 ALMS, LMP 2 class, Horag Racing / FIA GT Championship, GT 1 class, Bartels
Motor&Sport , 1 win / 24h Nürburgring, class E1 / Grand Prix Masters, Team GPM

2007 FIA GT Championship, GT 1 class, Bartels Motor&Sport / LMS, LMP 2 class, Horag
Racing , 1 win / ALMS, LMP 2 class, Horag Racing , Lola R05/40-Judd

2008 FIA GT Championship, GT 1 class, Bartels Motor&Sport, 1 win, 24h LeMans & ALMS,
GT 2 class, Risi Competizione / Grand-Am Sportscar Series, class DP, Krohn Racing

2009 FIA GT Championship, Bartels Motor&Sport, Maserati MC12 GT1 / 24h LeMans, 3rd class
GT2 , Risi Competizione / ALMS, GT2, Risi Competizione / Grand-Am Sportscar Series,
DP class, Krohn Racing , Lola B08/70 - Ford

2010 24h LeMans, Risi Competizione , Ferrari F430 GT2, ALMS, GT 2 class
2011 Blancpain Endurance Series PRO Cup, Bartels Motor&Sport , Ferrari 458 Italia GT3
2012 Blancpain Endurance Series PRO-AM Cup, Boutsen Ginion, McLaren MP4-12C GT3
2015 Blancpain Endurance Series PRO-AM Cup, Marc VDS Racing Team, BMW Z4 GT3
2019 Touring Car Classsics with 2.0 Automotive, Ex-Zakspeed-BMW-M3 E30


Date and place of birth: 10 May 1965 in Bonn, Germany
Residence: Munich, Germany
Height: 181 cm
Marital status: Married to Ana
Children: Mika, Luka and Lina
Hobbies: classic cars, vintage mechanical watches, Jazz
Profession learned: graduated architect and civil engineer
Favourite food: Italian & Sushi
Favourite drink: Ginger tea
Favourite music: Miles Davies
First own car: Fiat Panda


1982 Runner-up federal karting cup C125
1985 EFDA Bridgestone EuroCup and German Championship Formula Ford 1600
1986 German and European championships runner-up Formula Ford, 17 victories
1987 DTM, BMW Junior Team, 1st factory BMW M3 win, 100th Zakspeed win, 3rd overall
1988 AMG Mercedes-Benz works driver DTM, Formula 3
1989 Opel works driver in German Formula 3 with Opel-West-Schübel team.
1990 German Formula 3 with own racing team HC Hessel Motorsport
1991 German F3, HC Hessel Motorsport, 1 win, 3 podiums, 3rd overall / VLN wins with Toyota
1992 German F3, AlfaRomeo works driver at RSM Marko, test driver MIS-March F3000
1995 VLN, 5 wins, among others class and group win 24h Nürburgring, lap record Nordschleife
1996 VLN, 24-hour race at the Nürburgring
1997 VLN, class wins, DTC, 1 win, ETCC, new lap record Nordschleife
2002 24h Nürburgring, class win Group A up to 3 litres as private driver (BMW M3).
2005 Demonstration laps for BMW Motorsport and BMW Group Classic.
2018 Touring car Classsics with 2.0 Automotive, Ex-Zakspeed-BMW-M3 E30
2019 Touring car Classsics with 2.0 Automotive, Ex-Zakspeed-BMW-M3 E30
Porsche Club Historic Challenge with 2.0 Automotive (1 class win)
2.0 Automotive GmbH, Grafenberger Allee 100, D-40237 Düssseldorf - Germany

Mario-Alberto Bauér - also photos

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/eric-van-de-poele-marc-hessel-reunited-32-years-on-touringcar-classics---190627.html

14.05.2019 / MaP

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