Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – July 1, 2013 . . . The American Le Mans Series re-starts its 2013 season at Lime Rock Park, in Lakeville, Conn. on July 6th after an eight week hiatus for teams competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Western Connecticut circuit BMW of North America, LLC calls home has been the site of many important races and wins for the brand and the two BMW Z4 GTE racing cars will roll out of the BMW Team RLL transporters for this weekend’s race ready to address some unfinished business from one year ago.
Last season, the Lime Rock Park event marked Bill Auberlen’s 100th ALMS start and the BMW ace put the No. 55 BMW M3 GT on the class pole ready to continue the team’s unbroken record of podium finishes at Lime Rock Park. Unfortunately, a mechanical problem forced Auberlen to start from the pit lane and further bad luck for both cars ended the team’s podium streak.
The team recently completed two days of testing at Road Atlanta, site of the season-ending Petit Le Mans, to test the latest updates and add more data on the Michelin tires that are new to the team this season. BMW currently stands second in Manufacturer points, seven markers behind Chevrolet.
Currently, Dirk Müller leads the driver points by a narrow three-point margin following a seventh at Sebring co-driving with Joey Hand and John Edwards, a second with Hand at Long Beach and a third with Edwards at Laguna Seca. John Edwards will co-drive with Dirk Müller in the No. 56 machine for a second consecutive race as Joey Hand prepares for the DTM event at the Norisring on July 14.
Auberlen and Maxime Martin scored the first victory for the Z4 GTE at Long Beach in the No. 55 car, but a broken differential at the next round at Laguna Seca saw them finish out of the points. They finished fourth (along with Jörg Müller) at Sebring and stand fourth in driver points, eight points behind Müller.
“We’re looking forward to Lime Rock because I think that of all the circuits we will race on this year in our current spec, this track probably suits us best because it’s really a handling circuit,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We continue to operate at a real top-speed deficit to Porsche, Corvette, Ferrari and the Aston but Lime Rock is mostly corners, yes it has a fairly long straight, but it’s got a very fast corner at the bottom that leads onto it that’s not easy so I think a good handling car can have a stronger performance relative to other circuits. Having won there before in 2011 and having qualified well there over the years, I think that Lime Rock can be a good circuit for us. Of course the other manufacturers have been working hard; the Viper has really shown a lot of speed lately. I think the race is going to be a real challenge. I think that what makes us competitive frankly is the braking and handling of the car and at Lime Rock that is pretty much what it is all about.”
He continued, “BMW is a big sponsor of the track and it’s the closest race that we have to BMW of North America headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey so there will be a lot of people that work there who come up to watch the race. For sure it’s always a race we want to do well in for those very reasons.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – “I have some unfinished business at Lime Rock Park. I qualified on the pole, but a problem with the fuel cell had me start from the pit lane. We should have been on the podium last year and I’m aiming to be back on it this year.”
Maxime Martin, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – “I’m looking forward to racing in the US again after this long break. Lime Rock Park is a new track for me, but I’m sure Bill will show me all the tricks to be quick. I think the race strategy will be critical due to the short length of the track.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – “After the long Le Mans break I am really thrilled to get back to the ALMS season. Leading the championship is nice, but there is still a long way to go and the competition is really strong. We were able to charge our batteries as we were able to analyze a lot of data from our new BMW Z4 GTE to improve the whole package. Lime Rock Park is our BMW home track and I am expecting another great race there.”
John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – “It’s been a long break since the last ALMS race at Laguna, so I’m getting antsy to get back in the Z4! Dirk is now leading the driver’s championship, and I stood on an ALMS podium for the first time at Laguna Seca, so I hope we can keep the momentum headed into Lime Rock. Since Lime Rock is a flowing track with short straights, I think it should suit our Z4 well. I expect us to be faster this weekend than we will be at some other events, so it will be important to capitalize on that and hopefully move BMW to the top of the manufacturer’s championship standings.”
Qualifying and live streaming of the race can be found on ESPN3.com. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 6th. ALMS.com will stream in-car footage throughout the race and the full live feed for international views. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.alms.com.
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, 118 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.