BMW Team RLL Finishes Third and Fourth at Circuit of the Americas; Müller Moves to Second in GT Driver Points

Wood­cliff Lake, N.J. – Sept. 21, 2013 … BMW Team RLL finished third and fourth in today’s inau­gural Amer­ican Le Mans Series race at the Circuit of the Amer­icas. Both BMW Z4 GTE machines ran strongly for the majority of the race, only to fall victim to the top speed advan­tage of the Corvettes and Vipers in the closing stage of the 2.75-hour event.

John Edwards and Dirk Müller claimed third in the No. 56 Z4 GTE for Müller’s second consec­u­tive podium appear­ance. The result, combined with the with­drawal of the No. 4 Corvette during the race, moves Müller (prelim­i­nary) to second in the GT driver point stand­ings, 13 points behind the leaders.

Despite qual­i­fying fourth, Edwards had to start the No. 56 car from the rear of the entire field of 33 cars due to a miscue of the team with the qual­i­fying tires. He charged back to fifth in class before pitting on lap 24, some 50 minutes into the race. Müller rejoined the race in ninth and drove an equally strong first stint to be in third before making his final pit stop on lap 48. Müller then charged to second posi­tion and hounded the leading Corvette for the remainder of the race. On the last lap, he was unable to defend the Viper on the long, uphill front straight and was forced to settle for the last step of the podium.

The No. 55 of Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand finished fourth. Auberlen started the race from the pole posi­tion earned by Hand in yesterday’s qual­i­fying session. When the green flag waved, the car expe­ri­enced a mechan­ical issue that, despite clearing up within minutes, cost Auberlen six posi­tions. He kept his head down and moved back near the front before pitting on lap 19. Hand rejoined the field in ninth and at the one-hour mark was fifth. One half-hour later he was in second, only five seconds from the lead. He made his final stop on lap 49, at the 1.45 hour mark. He ran strongly behind Müller for the remainder of the race before being rele­gated to fourth by the faster top speed of the Viper, only four laps from the check­ered flag.

I’m disap­pointed for the team,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Prin­cipal. “There’s such a deficit in straight-line speed, it just hurts our ability to race those other guys. But the Z4 ran beau­ti­fully and handled well. The pit strategy was solid; we passed the Ferrari and both Vipers in the pits, so we made up a lot of places. We did our best; and 3rd and 4th are not so bad, and we’ll try again at VIR. The Circuit of the Amer­icas is fabu­lous… world class. I haven’t been to anything else built like this in this country, perhaps ever. It’s great to come to race tracks like this because you really feel like they have invested in the sport. It was fun to start the race, but of course you know I’d rather be in one of the cars.”

There’s no doubt in my mind that The Ulti­mate Driving Machine was the best-handling car in the race today, but unfor­tu­nately that’s no replace­ment for the horse­power disad­van­tage we face,” said Gordon McDon­nell, BMWNA Motor­sport Manager. “Joey and Dirk did a great job trying to hold onto their posi­tions but it’s quite evident that Corvette and Viper have a lot more top speed, and that’s some­thing we just can’t fight against.”

John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – (3rd) – “It was a pretty intense day at the office today. We had a little mix up with the tires and so we had to start last in the GT field. I could tell our car was really quick and I started moving up through the field. The team called a great race and put us in a posi­tion to chal­lenge for the win at the end, but at the end of the day there’s no replace­ment for pure horse­power and we saw what happened. The Z4 is unbe­liev­able in the corners and through the Esses. It’s a dream to drive and I could see myself gaining on any car around that wasn’t a proto­type, but those corners are the toughest places to pass people.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – (3rd) –  “What a race. It was like a roller coaster. Just shortly before the race I got the message that we were starting from the back of the grid, and at that point I was really down and wanted to go home. But when I saw John chal­lenging through traffic to the front, and absolutely on top of it, he really showed me that his mind was switched on, and I was fully moti­vated by that. When I got in the car after he did 55 minutes, I knew it had to be maximum attack. I did what felt like one hour, fifty-five minutes of qual­i­fying. I had that yellow machine in front of me, but first I had Joey in front of me. It was a lot of fun to race him and I really enjoyed it. Then I was just trying to chase the corvette down and I wanted to catch him, like a terrier… and I did it, tenth by tenth. I got caught in traffic a bit and used all my expe­ri­ence, but in the end the Viper passed me in the straight like it was a GT1-class car. I wanted to win, but I’m happy with P3 because I gave it my all.”

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – (4th) – “It’s kind of unusual but I had a crazy start in the first few laps and I dropped back quite a bit. But then it straight­ened out and we were quick enough to stay with the others. Then, Joey did the two next stints and earned P2, but even­tu­ally we just got run down by these competi­tors that are so fast it’s just ridicu­lous… they’re in a whole different world speed-wise. Some­times it feels ridiculous.”

Joey Hand, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – (4th) – “I’ve had a good time all week. I’m glad I had the chance to be here with BMW Team RLL. I got comfort­able really early at this new race track, including the laps in the rain. Bill had a tough go of it in the race with some tire pres­sure issues at the start. I got in the car and got a good roll going in the first stint, and the strategy was good too. On the second stint, the heavy fuel load started putting a lot of heat into the brakes and we basi­cally ran out of front brake pads at the end. All I could do was try to save it to come home. It’s a shame because the race got really good at the end and my car was improving overall. I had tried to save my car for the end but that’s the way it goes. I appre­ciate the effort every­body gave here and that’s all we had.”

Round Nine of the 2013 ALMS season will be held at Virginia Inter­na­tional Raceway, in Danville, Virginia, on Saturday, Oct. 5th. The 2.45-hour race will be broad­cast Sunday, Oct. 6th on ESPN2 tele­vi­sion at 5:30 p.m. ET.

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, 119 MINI passenger car dealers, and 34 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.

Infor­ma­tion about BMW Group prod­ucts is avail­able to consumers via the Internet at:  www.bmwgroupna.com

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 over two decades, compiling 28 victo­ries, 42 poles and three series cham­pi­onships (1992, 2010, 2011) 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.

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