Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – May 12, 2012… Although both BMW Team RLL M3 GT’s lead the GT class for a significant part of the six-hour American Le Mans Monterey race, they ultimately finished in the third and fourth positions.
Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller completed 232 laps of the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Laguna Seca circuit bringing the No. 55 BMW M3 GT home in third place, scoring their first podium together and delivering the team’s third consecutive podium of the season.
Joey Hand and Dirk Müller finished just behind their teammates in fourth place. Both drivers were on the receiving end of aggressive contact by competitors during the race with Hand getting the worst of it while leading. Rear ended by the second place Corvette just past the mid-race mark the No. 56 M3 GT would ultimately lose the rear fascia and diffuser affecting the car’s aerodynamic balance for the remainder of the race.
Slowed by multiple caution periods during the first five-and-one-half hours, the race was ultimately decided in the last 15 minutes after the green flag waved following the last full-course yellow of the contest. With Müller firmly in control of fourth, Auberlen restarted the No. 55 M3 GT from second. Before the experienced Californian could make a charge for the lead he was blocked by a prototype entering turn one allowing the third place Corvette to squeeze by for the second spot. Losing more ground on the exit of the corner he had to settle for third.
BMW now stands second in Manufacturer points. Hand and Müller are second in Driver points with Auberlen and Müller moving into a tie for fourth.
“Our competitors certainly are not making it easy,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We hung in there despite being hit many times and came away with valuable points.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT (third): “This was a six-hour race and we treated as a 45 minute sprint. It's unreal how competitive this series has become. On the last restart I got hung out to dry by a prototype car and Magnussen took advantage of it. It is great to make the podium, but we still have two more steps to climb.”
Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT (third): “I am happy to be back at Laguna Seca. This was a brilliant week. This was not an easy race, but Bill and I leave with our first podium together.”
Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GT (fourth): “We really got knocked around today. Losing the rear bumper loosened the car up in a big way. The car got so free in the high speed stuff that Dirk and I really had to hang on and work hard. This championship is tightening up only three races in. We will leave in second place in the driver standing but a number of the tracks coming up have been very good to us.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT (fourth): “Even though our car was damaged we still had the potential for a top-three finish, but just missed it. Congratulations to our teammates for their first podium of the season. I look forward to the next race at LimeRockPark where Joey and I can try to regain the lead in driver points.”
Following the traditional break in the ALMS season for teams competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, round four of the series, the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix, will be held at LimeRockPark, in Lakeville, Conn. on July 7th.
About BMW Team RLL:
BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls- Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls- Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 338 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 113 MINI passenger car dealers, and 32 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
BMW’s partner, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, has been competing for nearly two decades, compiling 22 victories, 31 poles and two series championships (1992, 2010) as well as claiming an Indianapolis 500 victory (Buddy Rice in 2004). In 2009 the team joined BMW of North America to campaign the new BMW M3 in the American Le Mans Series. In 2010 the team won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category. In 2011 the team swept all three GT titles – Manufacturer, Team and Driver.