Former BMW motorsport boss Karl-Heinz Kalbfell was killed in a freak accident on Saturday during the British Motorcycle Racing Club at Brands Hatch.
According to a statement from Brands Hatch owner MotorSport Vision (MSV), “Karl-Heinz was competing in the Lansdowne Classic Series at the British Motorcycle Racing Club meeting when, during practice, he ran wide exiting Druids corner and lost control on the way down to Graham Hill.”
“He fell and was struck by another closely following rider who was unable to avoid the incident. Kalbfell was taken by land ambulance to Darenth Valley hospital where he tragically succumbed to his injuries.”
Kalbfell, who was 63, served as CEO of Maserati and was previously Chairman and CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, president of M Division and head of BMW Motorsport.
In recent years he worked as an automotive product and project consultant and was a board director of Group Lotus, while the company was under the leadership of Dany Bahar. He was also involved in German sports car maker Artega, which unfortunately ceased trading in July 2012.
During his 27-year tenure at BMW he was instrumental in the use of BMW’s V12 engine for the McLaren F1 as well as BMW’s entry in Formula One and the period of transition from DTM to Super Touring. He also played a key role in BMW’s revival of the MINI brand in 2002.
Jonathan Palmer, Chief Executive of Brands Hatch owner MSV, commented: “I am deeply saddened to hear of this tragic news. I knew Karl-Heinz, though not well, and had great respect for his achievements in the motor industry and particularly with BMW.”
“He was a really good guy who did a huge amount for motorsport during his time at BMW. Karl-Heinz’s passion for machinery and sport was demonstrated by his love for classic motor cycle racing and it is particularly cruel that he should lose his life enjoying his hobby, and one which has a good safety record too. I extend my deepest sympathies to Karl-Heinz’s family.”
In a statement issued by BMW on Sunday, it said “BMW mourns an amazing person and a passionate racer. For many years he was a formative figure and a driving force behind BMW Motorsport and BMW M.”