Monthly Archives: April 2011

BMW Team RLL Wins at Long Beach

 Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 16, 2011… Joey Hand and Dirk Müller drove BMW Team RLL to the top of the GT class podium for a second consecutive time this season at today’s American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. The No. 56 M3 GT will be credited with the most laps led in the two hour contest, but not until the final minutes of the race were slowed by a caution flag was the outcome decided.

Hand started the race from the class pole and led for the opening laps, but lost the lead some twenty minutes into the race after an almost surreal set of circumstances. A few positions behind Hand, teammate Bill Auberlen, in the No. 55 M3 GT, was struck by a competitor and spun around 180 degrees in the tight confines of turn two. When he finally was able to get turned in the right direction Hand was back around and lost two positions as he avoided the accelerating Auberlen.

Hand gave chase and with a slick double pass in turn six regained the lead at the 40 minute mark. A second battle ensued with Patrick Long’s Porsche and Hand lost the lead only to regain it a second time as Long slid into the wall.

He built up a seven second lead before pitting just past the hour mark. Müller took over and held the lead for the final hour of the race and the duo’s second consecutive GT win.

Dirk Werner finished the race in the No. 55 M3 GT seventh in class, two laps in arrears.

“This was a great win by Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller in the No. 56 car today and a great position to be in going into the Le Mans break,” said Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director. “We are also confident that we had the possibility for a 1-2 victory today. Both cars are clearly very reliable, we have a strong team and strong drivers. With the result today, we are well positioned in both the ALMS and ILMC championships.”

Bobby Rahal, Team principal, added, “This was a big win for us as we didn’t want to come to Long Beach and lose the advantage we fought so hard for in Sebring. Back-to-back wins are tough to come by in any series, but especially here in the GT class of ALMS, and this is a big victory for our team.”

Following the traditional American Le Mans Series hiatus for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, BMW Team RLL will begin its defense the GT class lead at Lime Rock Park, in Lakeville, Conn., on July 9.


Video: Joey Hand and Dirk Müller, No. 56 M3 GT (win)

BMW Team RLL Finishes One-Two in Sebring and Kicks Off 2011 Season in Style

Sebring, 19th March 2011. BMW Team RLL started the 2011 American Le Mans Series season in style on a steamy Saturday night, storming to victory in the GT class of the famed 12 Hours of Sebring. The #56 BMW M3 GT, driven by Dirk Müller (DE), Joey Hand (US) and Andy Priaulx (GB), paced Dirk Werner (DE), Bill Auberlen (US) and Augusto Farfus (BR) to the checkered flag, making it a clean sweep for BMW Team RLL in the 59th running of this classic endurance race.

The lead changed countless times, and the field was brought together again and again during nine full-course yellows. Ultimately the BMW Team RLL combination of a perfectly reliable car, strong drivers, good strategy, excellent Dunlop tires and flawless pit stops carried the day. The two newly constructed BMW M3 GT racing cars completed the marathon in Florida without technical problems, passing their first major test with flying colors.

BMW Team RLL will try to build on this success in the second round of the American Le Mans Series which will be staged at Long Beach (US) on 16th April 2011. In the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup BMW Team Schnitzer will be in action for the first time this year at the 1,000-kilometer race in Spa-Francorchamps (BE) on 7th May 2011.

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): “This was a perfect start for us in the 2011 ALMS season. We won in a very hard-fought race against very strong competitors and celebrated a fantastic one-two with our BMW M3 GT cars. A big compliment not only goes to our drivers but also to the development team in Munich and BMW Team RLL. Everyone did a great job here in Sebring, from the first to the last pit stop.”

Bobby Rahal (Team Principal): “I have won this race as a driver and now also as a team owner. This certainly is a great honor. The drivers and the team worked exceptionally well, the Dunlop tires were excellent and the cars really didn’t miss a beat.. This is a great start to our season.”

Dirk Müller (Car number 56): “I’m incredibly happy now. It’s never easy to win a 12-hour race, but today it was extra tough. Over the entire race we were among the front-runners and believed in our chance. This victory is the perfect for reward for all the hard work which was put in by BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL over the winter.”

Joey Hand (Car number 56): “I came to Sebring with a really good feeling that we could win this – and now it really worked out. The victory belongs to everyone in BMW Team RLL. In the off-season the guys built two brand-new BMW M3 GT cars that worked well from the word go. I also want to say thank you to Dunlop. The tyres played an important part today and we had this advantage on our side.”

Andy Priaulx (Car number 56): “What a great result. The team did a flawless job and didn’t make a single mistake over the 12 hours. Following our bad luck in the first stint, we managed to work our way up front. Our team-mates would have also deserved victory. But I think that we can all be very happy with this one-two.”

Dirk Werner (Car number 55): “This really was a great race. I’m satisfied with second place and this fantastic overall result. The points we were able to score today, will be very valuable over the course of the ALMS season. Ahead of this race we were really confident to be competitive, but this one-two comes as a nice surprise to all of us.”

Bill Auberlen (Car number 55): “For the team and BMW Motorsport this certainly is a dream result. As a driver you always want to make it to the top step of the podium, but overall I only take positive impressions away from this race. The next ALMS event will in my backyard Long Beach. We now know exactly how strong we are, and I will again push hard there.”

Augusto Farfus (Car number 55): “Racing here in Sebring was a great experience. The BMW M3 GT showed a strong pace, which makes me very optimistic for the coming races in Europe. We suffered a dose of bad luck on several occasions during the race. Nevertheless I really enjoyed every stint. I did one of my first tests with the BMW M3 here in Sebring. To come back and make it on the podium is fantastic.”>

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Teams With Sam Schmidt Motorsports To Enter Jay Howard in Indianapolis 500

HILLIARD, Ohio (March 8, 2011) – Two teams that have had a great deal of success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will team up this May in hopes of giving a young driver his first shot at glory in the Indianapolis 500.

2004 Indy 500 winners Rahal Letterman Lanigan will partner with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, which has won a record-setting five Freedom 100 Indy Lights events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to campaign former Firestone Indy Lights champion Jay Howard at this year’s Indy 500 driving the #88 Service Central Indy Car.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan has made 22 starts in the Memorial Day classic, and has nine top-10 finishes to its credit including Buddy Rice’s victory in 2004. The Ohio-based team has had great success with young drivers at Indy as well, carrying Danica Patrick and Ryan Hunter-Reay to Indy 500 Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

Sam Schmidt is also no stranger to Indianapolis success with young drivers, having taken Thiago Medeiros, Wade Cunningham, Alex Lloyd and Jaime Camara to Victory Circle at Indy as part of his team’s series-record 37 Firestone Indy Lights victories.

“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a very special place and we have always taken great pride in performing well there,” said SSM owner Sam Schmidt. “Having the chance to work with a team like Rahal Letterman Lanigan gives us even more reason to be optimistic about our chances for success. Jay Howard is a very talented driver and we look forward to a promising month of May.”

The 2006 Indy Lights champion, Howard will be trying to qualify for his first Indianapolis 500, after narrowly missing the field in 2008 and 2010. The 30-year-old Englishman has nine IZOD Indy Car Series starts to his credit, including four last season with Sarah Fisher Racing while carrying the Service Central colors.

“I think Jay has always been right on the brink of breaking through in Indy Car racing and our plan is to provide him with everything he needs to take that next step,” said RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Between Sam’s team and ours, we have the experience, knowledge and ability to provide an entry that will allow Jay to show his skills.”

“We are excited to have a second Service Central® entry in the Indy 500 this year,” Said Orland Wolford, President at CEO TBC Retail Group. “The partnership between Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Rahal Letterman Lanigan will surely provide Jay with a great opportunity and a powerful entry. We look forward to watching Jay champion the Service Central car at the Indy 500.”

Practice for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 will begin on May 15, with qualifying set for the 22nd and 23. The 500-mile race will begin at noon Eastern Time on May 29 and will be seen live on ABC.

About Service Central:

Service Central® is the automotive service offering available exclusively at Tire Kingdom®, NTB-National Tire and Battery®, Merchant’s Tire and Auto®, and Big O Tires®. Available at nearly 1,300 locations nationwide, its trained and certified ASE technicians use state-of-the art equipment to provide quality service on cars or trucks. The nationwide warranty provides peace of mind while it protects consumers and their investment in over 40 states.