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Touring Car Racing Career

1986 RAS Volvo ETCC
1988 AMG Mercedes DTM
2002 Irmscher Opel V8Star
So he had to switch to touring car racing. Eleven months after the accident he raced in a BMW 635i for the first time at the Salzburgring, Austria in 1985. Two weeks later Johnny drove at the 24 hours race of Francorchamps in Belgium where he finished 2nd. In 1986 he raced for the RAS Volvo team with a Volvo 240 Turbo in the European Touring Car Championship. He did fine and was in good position for the championship title when they were withdrawn in Sweden for championship ranking. The fuel in the Volvo was seen as illegal and so he lost a lot of points and a possible championship with this in 1986. With the CiBiEmme team he took part in 1987 with a BMW M3 for both the World- and European Championship Touring Cars. The very first race was won together with Ricardo Patrese but all top 6 cars were disqualified. Johnny Cecotto did win a total of 4 races with his team-mate Gianfranco Brancatelli. For 1988 Cecotto was to be transferred into the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft) series in Germany. He was taken away from BMW for a lot of money to drive for AMG Mercedes, a team which participated for the very first time ever. With the Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 Johnny won both races at the Avus and also in Budapest and he would finish in 6th position overall at the end of the season. Johnny was recruited to BMW though in 1989 and drove in both the DTM and Italian Touring Car Championship. He missed 3 races in Germany which coincided with the Italian races and finished 7th at the end. But Johnny Cecotto gained the Italian championship title by winning seven heats with his Schnitzer BMW M3. It was his first championship title in car racing in his career. In 1990 he was again in both championships but now he did prefer the German DTM title instead of the Italian from last season. With a BMW M3 he battled till the end for the championship. Before the last race at Hockenheim Cecotto was well ahead of Stuck with 18 points. But still he lost the title in the last race because being pushed off from the track by Mercedes "guest driver" Michael Schumacher in the very first corner. He restarted from the back of the field but couldn't make it to the front. In the second heat Johnny wasn't able to pass the "Audi-train" of Stuck, Jelinski and Röhrl and finished only 4th in the race. It wasn't good enough to be DTM champion and so Joachim Stuck took his title away. It was a great disappointment for him. Johnny stayed in the DTM series for 1991 with the Schnitzer team of team manager Charly Lamm. Cecotto started very well with two victories in Zolder with his BMW M3 but later on in the season his results dropped back. He finished the season in 4th place overall. In the season 1992 we saw Johnny Cecotto with a BMW M3 for the FINA-BMW team but the first 5 races were a disaster and he gained very less points. He escaped uninjured at the Norisring after a big crash when pushed from behind during the start of the race. Cecotto lurched through the field and flew into the guardrail with miraculously nobody hitting him. In the second part of the season he recovered and got 6 times a top 3 result and therefore he managed to finish in a 4th position. But after 1992 BMW retired from DTM series because of the regulations. Johnny competed with a BMW M3 GTR in 1993 for the team of Warsteiner FINA in the ADAC GT Cup. With 6 victories from the total of 8 races he outclassed everybody and won the championship title. Even in Zandvoort when he stepped in the old normal M3 he won the race easily. Johnny Cecotto got the title because of his driver skills and not because of having a BMW M3 GTR. In the Italian Touring Car Championship he ended on 5th position in the championship. Friend Roberto Ravaglia was champion there.
In 1994 Johnny raced the ADAC Tourenwagen Cup with a Warthofer-BMW 318is. With three wins in the last 3 races he claimed the championship title of the Tourenwagen Cup in front of Frank Biela in his Audi. In the same year he finished 7th in the Italian Touring Car Championship in which Emanuele Pirro won the title. He went to England in 1995 to take part in the BTCC. The Warthofer BMW 318is was not very competitive against the Ford, Renault and Volvo all because of mostly tire problems. He only reached 12th position at the end of the season. In 1996 Johnny raced again in the Italian Touring Car Championship with a BMW 320i and finished 2nd overall only 6 points short to become the champion there. He also drove some races for the German Super Tourenwagen Cup. In Brasil he won at the end of the year both races at the circuits of Curitba and Brasilia together with Nelson Piquet in a BMW McLaren F1 GTR in sports car. A Bigazzi BMW 320i was to be driven by Cecotto in 1997 in STW (Super TourenWagen meisterschaft) in Germany. Johnny was in battle for the championship but at the end he finished 3rd behind Laurent Aiello (Peugeot) and BMW teammate Joachim Winkelhock. He won the 1000 miles sports car race in Brasilia together with Nelson Piquet and Steve Soper in their BMW McLaren F1 GTR. 1998 was a successful year again. With some help from BMW team-mate Winkelhock he managed to get the STW title in Germany. He had to fight till the last race at the Nürburgring with his Schnitzer BMW 320i against Laurent Aiello in a Peugeot 406. Johnny had a leading advantage of 2 points before the race but while finishing 4th behind Aiello in the sprint he was 1 point behind. In the race he came from the start in front of Aiello and kept his 3rd position till the end. Aiello finished 5th and so Johnny got the championship title with 3 points advantage. After this BMW was to be withdrawn from STW so Johnny didn't race for BMW anymore. He went to Venezuela to take part as guest driver in the Ferrari Challenge in 1999. He won all 4 races he competed. Also in 2000 there wasn't much activity for Johnny Cecotto. He did one race for the Isert team in a BMW 320i for the European Super Touring Cup in Vallelunga. He managed to get the best result ever for Isert with a 6th and 5th place. He also raced at the Ferrari Challenge race in Hockenheim, Germany which he won. But for 2001 Johnny was back in business. He did two races for the FIA GTN-championship with a Porsche 933 but did withdraw because of not being competitive. Nevertheless he won the first race at Monza. Only a few weeks before the start of the season of the brand new V8-Star series in Germany, Cecotto was contracted by the Irmscher team. He drove the Irmscher Opel Omega silhouette to the championship title on October 13th 2001 in Oschersleben. Also in 2002 Johnny was racing for the Irmscher team in the V8-Star. The glorious fact of 2002 was that Johnny Cecotto had been active for 30 years in motor sports now!!!! Although the competition was heavier in V8-Star than in 2001 he managed to get the championship title again on September 21st at the Nürburgring. Also Cecotto raced after absence of 10 years as a guest driver in the DTM series at Hockenheim on October 6th for the Opel Euroteam and finished in fine 10th position. In 2003 Johnny did talk to Irmscher again to compete the V8-Star series again but it never got to a deal. So 2002 was the last official year in which Johnny Cecotto competed in a championship. Sometimes he did some separate races after 2002 but Johnny’s career got more into supporting and helping his sons in their racing careers and maintaining his own racing team JC Racing. Read more by clicking below here at “Life after a racing career”.....

Life after a racing career  >>>>>