BMW Finishes 2nd and 6th at Long Beach; BMW Remains at the Front of the GTLM Driver and Team Points Standings

Third race, third podium: BMW Team RLL raced to a third consecutive podium in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, finishing second and sixth in today’s Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach.
 
John Edwards and Dirk Müller scored their first podium finish of the season, racing the No. 56 Z4 GTLM to second place. Completing 75 laps around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit, the duo finished 5.408 seconds behind the winning No. 3 Corvette in the 100-minute race. Edwards and Müller ran a flawless race with Edwards starting from third and moving to second on the first lap. A slower prototype car got in between the GTLM leader and Edwards effectively ending his chance to attack. He handed off to Müller on lap 31 and the BMW Motorsport driver had a great battle to hold off the No. 4 Corvette for the remaining hour of the race. Today’s result moves the pair to fourth in the GTLM points standings.
 
Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx had a disappointing finish to an excellent start, finishing sixth in the No. 55 Z4 GTLM. Priaulx started the race from the second position, dropping behind Edwards on the first lap. The teammates ran nose-to-tail for 40 minutes before Edwards pitted on lap 31. As Priaulx entered the pit lane on lap 32 he nicked the wall and knocked off the right side mirror. Auberlen had to wait an extra 15 seconds for the crew to replace the door, rejoining the race in eighth place. The defending race winner put his head down, passing the No. 62 Ferrari on lap 35 and the No. 91 Viper 16 laps later. The remaining 24 laps were not enough to make up one more position, with Auberlen finishing off the podium for the first race this season in sixth, but with enough points to retain the lead in the driver points standings.
 
“Second was a good finish for us today,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We got held up in the beginning by one of the prototypes, and that really was the difference. It was unfortunate that Andy just touched the wall when he came in and took the mirror off. By the time they replaced the door they had lost valuable time. I was disappointed for the 55 car, but they scored points and kept the championship lead.”
 
Gordon McDonnell, BMWNA Motorsport Manager added, “Overall, I believe we can consider this a good weekend for BMW. Fulfilling our objective of leaving Long Beach with the championship lead is important, as well as continuing our streak of podium finishes. Congratulations to Dirk and John and the No. 56 crew.”
 
John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “This is my first podium of the year and my first podium at Long Beach. It was a really hard fight, especially with the prototype at the beginning when we lost too much ground, and with no yellows throughout the race we could never make it up. I am happy with second considering all the variables, but I really think we had the pace to pressure Magnussen and Garcia if we hadn’t been delayed at the beginning.”
 
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “Sometimes there are second places that come easily, but this was not one of those. John did a fantastic job in the beginning and really had a good start and moved up to second. Unfortunately the prototype in front us slowed us and allowed the leader get away. There were no yellows, which was good for the spectators, but unlucky for us. I had lots of understeer, which meant I could not attack, but my car was quick enough to keep Tommy (Milner) behind me.”

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “That was certainly not the finish we wanted! All you can ask for is to have a car capable of winning. We had that today, but a bit of bad luck cost us. Fortunately, we did not lose the lead in the championship. If that was our bad luck for the year we’ll take it.”
 
Andy Priaulx, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “From the moment the Z4 left the pits to the moment I jumped out of it I felt really strong. Unfortunately, I had some bad luck. I got delayed by the prototypes and that cost us some seconds on the way into the pits. I lost the mirror and that cost us some more time. Unfortunately in a short race like this you can’t have that happen. There were no yellows and we just needed one to be back up there. It is just disappointing we are not where we wanted to be, but we are still leading the championship.”
 
Round Four of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the Monterey Grand Prix, will take place at Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, Calif., on Sunday, May 4th. The race will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.imsa.com.

BMW Qualifies 2nd and 3rd at Long Beach

BMW Team RLL equaled its best qualifying effort of the young 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Series by placing its BMW Z4 GTLM machines in the second and third starting positions for tomorrow’s Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach race.

Switching places from Sebring, today’s 15-minute session saw Bill Auberlen qualify the No. 55 Z4 in second with a lap of 1:18.091 minutes around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit. Auberlen’s lap was only .152 seconds in arrears of the pole sitter Jan Magnussen, in the No. 3 Corvette. Dirk Müller drove the No. 56 Z4 to third with a 1:18.246 minute lap.

Last year BMW Team RLL raced to a 1-2 finish at Long Beach in only the second race for the new BMW Z4 GTE. With podium finishes at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring this year BMW Team RLL leads the GTLM Team and Driver points standings.

“It was an excellent qualifying effort and I think everyone is pleased with the cars,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “A good day today should make for a better day tomorrow.”

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (2nd) – “Judging from last year, we have definitely made a step forward. We were on pole for most of the session, but at the end the Corvette went by. Today we were P2 in the first practice, P1 in the second and now P2 in qualifying. If we can just stay in that area tomorrow I’ll be happy. It’s always a tough race here and this is an extremely competitive field. We’ve been consistently at the front today and I hope that bodes well for another great finish.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (3rd) – “I had a lack of grip in the second practice so we lost valuable preparation time for qualifying. We were definitely behind, but well done to everyone on a great recovery. We can now focus all of our attention on the race.”

Part of the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach takes the green flag at 6:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 12th. Fox Sports 1 will carry live coverage of the race beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL @ on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.imsa.com.

BMW finished 3rd and 10th at Sebring

Second race, second podium: BMW Team RLL finished third and tenth in today’s 12 Hours of Sebring. The 62nd edition of the longest half-day in motorsport relinquished only a third place finish to the No. 55 BMW Z4 GTLM for the team’s second consecutive podium of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The result moves Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand and Andy Priaulx to the top of the Driver point standings.

The No. 55 Z4, co-driven by Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand and Andy Priaulx, took the checkered flag in third place – 5.144seconds from the second step of the podium – completing 286 laps of the 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway. The trio finished second at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and now stand first (unofficially) in GTLM driver points. The No. 56 Z4 finished tenth. Co-driven by John Edwards, Dirk Müller and Dirk Werner, the car experienced a number of problems during the race and finished nine laps in arrears of the class winning Porsche.

At the six-hour mark the No. 55 machine was running in third and the No. 56 in tenth after Werner was pushed into the wall by a competitor. Repairs over the next few hours ultimately cost the 56 machine nine laps.

The race was slowed by more than five hours of caution periods and the crack RLL strategy helped the No. 55 machine regain a lost lap caused by a malfunctioning pit speed limiter just past the midpoint of the race. With 2.5-hours remaining Joey Hand was in fourth, only two seconds from a podium position. He took over third on lap 276, putting a good chase on for second in the final ten laps of the race. The same could not be said for the No. 56 Z4 as the lost laps proved to be too many to make up and a tenth place finish was the result.

“Today was certainly a tough day for us in many respects,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “A third place finish by the No. 55 Z4 and now the points lead is a tremendous achievement given the ups and downs they went though the course of the race. Unfortunately, the day was ruined quite early for the No. 56 car. At the end we didn’t have the pace to catch the leaders, but now we head to Long Beach and a circuit much more suited to the strengths of the Z4.”

Gordon McDonnell, BMWNA Motorsport Manager commented, “Sebring reminded us it is always harder than expected, but at the end of the day it was a great result for BMW Team RLL. We head to Long Beach next month leading the GTLM driver points ready for the next step in the fight for the championship.”

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “We ran into some of the worst luck I have ever seen. We had a great car, we were up to second place and then we dropped to third place. Then we got a speeding violation coming into the pit lane, and then we got three more back to back before we determined the cause, which put us a lap down. We fought back to the lead lap. Our Z4 was great. We tuned it and adjusted it throughout the race. It sustained some damage early on and had a big understeer. We tuned that out and we had something to go racing with and my last stint was very strong.”

Joey Hand, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “It was an interesting race for sure. We just kept trying to make the car better and better. It wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be, but it all came right and during that last twenty minutes I was thinking, “Oh boy, this is turning into another dog fight!” It seemed the Porsche was too far gone, but I thought we could get to the Viper. It wasn’t our race to win today, but the reason why we have won championships in this program is because we get what we can get, and that is what we did.”

Andy Priaulx, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “My first stint was hardly a stint as I had so many safety cars. We had a bit of contact with a prototype which damaged the bodywork and there was then some understeer in the car. The team did a great job to re-balance the car, which luckily wasn’t badly damaged. Then Joey jumped in and had a great couple of stints. They bolted me in and I had a really good fast stint with good lap times. We had to come in a couple of laps early as the bonnet was a bit loose and had to be taped. We were in the ball park and not far off where we needed to be and I thought if we can get a couple of safety cars now we will be back in the hunt. I was also pleased that when I got out of the car I had set the fastest lap time in it up to that point. My job was to bring the car back in one piece, which I did. There were a couple of crazy re-starts as there were so many cars out there and you were locked in the battle from the moment you got into the car – I have never had it like that before. It is full ten tenths, it is fun and it makes you sharp and I am loving it.”

John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “There is not much we could have done today. Things that were not expected to happen ultimately put us in the situation where we were out of contention. It’s really too bad because we had a strong car. We saw the No. 55 finish on the podium and we think we would have been right up there too.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “This was one of those races which ultimately ended quite early for us. We stayed positive and were hoping that we’d get the laps back with all the caution periods. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Congratulations to the 55 guys!”

Dirk Werner, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “Unfortunately we had too many incidents today. The hit from a Porsche that turned us in the wall put us back a number of laps and we never really recovered. I hope the rest of the season will be better for Dirk and John.”

BMW Team RLL Races in P3 and P10 at 12 Hours of Sebring Mid-Point

At the mid-point of the 62nd annual 12 Hours of Sebring BMW Team RLL races in the third and tenth positions in the GTLM class. The first race at Sebring for the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship has been slowed by eight caution periods, the sixth bringing out a red flag that halted the race for six minutes, in the first six hours.

The No. 55 Z4 currently runs in the third position having had a relatively trouble free race so far. Bill Auberlen started the race from the third position, running two stints before handing off to Andy Priaulx, pitting from sixth. Joey Hand took over on lap 79 under the fifth caution period of the race at the 3.41-hour mark. He carefully picked his way through the field, reaching second place before pitting for fuel just before the six-hour mark.

Dirk Muller started the race in the No. 56 Z4 from the second position. Just before the 3-hour mark the No. 56 Z4, with Dirk Werner now behind the wheel, was swept up in a wreck started by the No. 62 Ferrari inflicting damage to the left front of the BMW. He pitted for repairs, a new wheel and tire, and returned to the race in the seventh position as the field circulated under the fourth caution period of the contest. Werner was back in the pits a few minutes after the green flag waved for continued repairs, falling four laps behind the class leaders. Additional pit stops cost him an additional three laps. At the mid-point John Edwards is behind the wheel of the No. 56 Z4, racing in the tenth position.

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “At the beginning quite a few drivers were bumping into each other. I took it pretty easy and laid back. On my second set of tires, which were a medium compound, everything was great with the car. We just started fighting our way up the leader board and I was catching the Corvette. I think we have a very good, strong car. After Andy got in the door wouldn’t shut! All that work and we had to come in for a pit stop to shut the door.”

Andy Priaulx, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “That was a very challenging time. I was driven off the road in Turn 16 by a competitor who seemed to be oblivious to any other car on the track. On top of that we’ve lost a bit of the handling we had earlier in the week, but the crew will work to get us back to the sweet spot.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “I had a brilliant start to the race. Unfortunately there was a mess in turn two and I got really hit hard from behind. We had minor damage to the rear of the car, but it was not affecting my driving.”

Dirk Werner, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “It was a wild experience, but also a very disappointing one. At one point a Porsche drove into me in turn one, putting me into the wall. The entire front fascia had to be changed. Before that, the Z4 was running really good, I think we were in P2 and now we have some laps to the leaders. Still six hours to go. It will be tough to get back to the front, but we will try.”

Saturday morning BMW Team RLL gets ready before the start of the race.