Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – July 6, 2012… Bill Auberlen qualified the No. 55 BMW Team RLL M3 GT on the GT class pole for tomorrow’s American Le Mans Series Northeast Grand Prix at LimeRockPark. Auberlen, who will be making his 100th ALMS start tomorrow, set his fast lap of 50.920 seconds around the 1.5-mile, 8-turn circuit on his fifth lap of the 15-minute qualifying session. The 17-year BMW racing ace will co-drive the No. 55 M3 GT with BMW Motorsport veteran Jörg Müller. Müller will be making his first start at BMW of North America’s home track.
Joey Hand qualified the No. 56 BMW M3 GT in the fourth position with a time of 51.334 seconds. Hand, last year’s LimeRockPark winner with co-driver Dirk Müller, tried a different qualifying strategy by waiting in the pits for the first half of the session. Unfortunately, a red flag brought a seven minute halt to the session with Hand setting his quick lap on lap six, just before the checkered flag waved.
BMW Team RLL M3 GT has brought a streak of three consecutive podium finishes in the first three races of the 2012 season, including a win at the 12 Hours of Sebring, to the Northeast Grand Prix. Since the team’s 2009 season debut, at least one BMW Team RLL M3 has finished on the podium at LimeRockPark. A third place finish in 2009 led to a double podium 2-3 result in 2010. Last year eventual GT driver co-champions Joey Hand and Dirk Müller won the race after starting from the pole and leading every lap.
Hand and Müller currently stand second in GT driver points following a win (with Jonathan Summerton) at Sebring, a second place finish at Long Beach and a fourth place finish at Laguna Seca in the No. 56 BMW Team RLL M3 GT.
Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller are coming off a season’s-best finish of third at Laguna Seca in the No. 55 BMW M3 GT. A fourth place finish at Sebring (with Uwe Alzen) and a disappointing 11th at Long Beach has the duo standing fourth in driver points.
“I am pleased for Bill to have scored the pole for his 100th ALMS race, “said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “He was clearly the quickest guy out there. Bill and Jörg haven’t had much luck this year. I hope they have nothing but good luck tomorrow starting from the pole. Lots of BMW people will be here tomorrow and having your favorite car on the pole is a great way to start the day. Joey did a good job too. His fourth place time is only a blink of an eye off of the front row.”
Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport director added, “We learned a lot in the two practice sessions and transferred that information to Bill. He put the lap together and the time held up to the end of the session. It is unfortunate for Joey that the red flag came out on his hot lap. I think P4 for him is still quite good. All together, the team is in a very good position for the race.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – BMWNA Motorsport video.
Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “We waited so we would have a clearer track because at LimeRockPark you can have a big mess in traffic. The risk you take was demonstrated today. The red flag got me. Still I am pretty happy with how far we have come with the No. 56 M3 GT. The methodical changes the engineers have been making are moving us in the right direction. I think we would have been P1 or P2 if not for the red flag.”
The 2.45-hour American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix race is the fourth round of the 2012 ALMS championship. The race will take the green flag at 3:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 7. ESPN2 will air the race same-day beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET. Live streaming coverage is available starting at 2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com.
The Series’ website offers additional content such as live in-car cameras, and timing and scoring for all users around the world. Viewers outside the U.S. can watch all ALMS races live on ALMS.com.
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.
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