Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, a former executive at German carmaker BMW and Italian group Fiat, died August 17, 2013 following a motorcycle accident in the United Kingdom. Kalbfell spent 27 years working for BMW -- from 1977 until 2004 – and held a number of posts that included being chief of BMW Motorsport. He also had a major role in BMW's revival of the Mini brand from 2002 to 2004.
Kalbfell joined Fiat Group in 2005, serving as chief operating officer at Alfa Romeo. He was then named as chief executive at Maserati the same year. He left Fiat in late 2006 and started his own business, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell Consultancy and Project Management.
Kalbfell had served since 2007 as a consultant to Lotus, Magna Europe and GAZ. BMW said in a statement that it "mourns an amazing person and a passionate racer.” The German carmaker described Kalbfell as “a formative figure and a driving force” behind BMW Motorsport and BMW M.
According to a release from Brands Hatch, during practice for the British Motorcycle Racing Club's Lansdowne Classic Series at a racing circuit in Kent, Kalbfell ran wide while exiting Druids corner. He then lost control onto Graham Hill and fell from his bike. He was then struck by another rider.
According to the release, Kalbfell was then taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he died. Jonathan Palmer, chief executive of the Brands Hatch owner MotorSport Vision, said in a statement that Kalbfell’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."