Long Beach Next for BMW Team RLL Z4 GTE Debut Season

Wood­cliff Lake, N.J. – April 16, 2013… BMW Team RLL travels to Long Beach, Cali­fornia on April 20th for the second round of the 2013 Amer­ican Le Mans Series season and the next act in the debut season of the BMW Z4 GTE.

The new machines had an excel­lent first race at the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring in March. Running compet­i­tive lap times at the sharp end of the GT field for the first two-thirds of the race, the team ulti­mately finished fourth and seventh after mechan­ical prob­lems hindered any chance at chal­lenging for the podium. With some five weeks to inte­grate the find­ings from Sebring, the Bobby Rahal-led team is confi­dent the new cars are ready for Long Beach – a race the team has always finished with at least one car on the podium.

In 2009, the debut year of the M3 GT, Dirk Müller and Tommy Milner finished third in the No. 92 car. In 2010, Bill Auberlen and Milner drove the No. 92 M3 GT to third. 2011 saw Joey Hand and Dirk Müller win the race from the pole on the way to the season’s driver’s title. Last year, Hand and Müller finished second in the No. 56 car.

“We have had very compet­i­tive cars here over the last four years; we have been on the podium every year and won in 2011,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Prin­cipal. “While I think we are at a top-speed disad­van­tage currently with the Z4, the car has very good handling and on a street circuit that’s prob­ably the most crit­ical part. I suspect we can be compet­i­tive again this year even though the car is new. Certainly we are opti­mistic although, as we saw at Sebring, the compe­ti­tion is extremely tight and there are more players now that actu­ally have a chance of winning the race.”

Long Beach is one of the most unique venues on the schedule. The tempo­rary street circuit packs eleven turns in only 1.968-miles and includes Shore­line Drive, the city’s signa­ture road that runs along the harbor. Despite being the shortest race of the season – at two-hours – the Long Beach event chal­lenges the teams on every level – including the schedule. Because the weekend includes IndyCar, track time is limited to an early morning two-hour prac­tice and a fifteen-minute qual­i­fying session at 5:15 p.m. local time on Friday, April 19th. No other track time is avail­able before Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. start.

Since Sebring, all BMW Team RLL drivers have been racing BMWs in other series. Bill Auberlen (with co-driver Paul Dalla Lana) finished fifth in the Rolex race at Barber Motor­sports Park on April 6 in a Turner Motor­sports M3. The duo currently stands fifth in GT class points. Maxime Martin (and co-drivers Bas Lein­ders (BE), Yelmer Buurman (NL) finished eighth in a Marc VDS Racing Z4 GT3 in the opening round of the 2013 Blanc­pain Endurance Series, at Auto­dromo Nazionale Monza, on 14th April. Joey Hand partic­i­pated in four days of pre-season DTM testing in Barcelona, Spain and Hock­en­heim, Germany – the site of the May 5th opening round – in his BMW Team RMG M3 DTM. Hand set the quickest time of all DTM drivers on the third day of the test. Dirk Müller (with co-drivers Jörg Müller (DE) and Augusto Farfus (BR)) made an impres­sive start to the VLN Endurance Cham­pi­onship for the BMW Z4 GT3 securing BMW’s 34th overall victory at the at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife behind the wheel of a BMW Team Shubert BMW Z4 GT3.

On Thursday evening of race week, BMW of North America, LLC, will co-sponsor the Road Racing Drivers Club Evening with Brian Redman presented by Fire­stone at the RRDC’s fifth annual West Coast banquet. Redman raced for BMW in 1975 and ’76, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1975 (with co-drivers Hans Stuck, Sam Posey and Allan Moffat) in a BMW 3.0 CSL on the first year of BMW’s offi­cial foray into Amer­ican sports-car racing. He also won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1976 (with Peter Gregg and John Fitz­patrick) also in the BMW 3.0 CSL. “The BMW CSLs were fabu­lous machines, and the Sebring and Daytona wins remain the high­lights of my career,” said Redman, who actu­ally drove eight of the twelve hours to the ’75 Sebring victory.

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – “Long Beach is an amazing jewel on the ALMS calendar. I have never won my home race and enough is enough. I have been all over the podium, but a victory has been very hard to come by. I’ve driven more than a few BMWs in my career and I know the new BMW Z4 GTE has all the right moves to reach that top step.”

Maxime Martin, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – “I’m really excited to discover the Long Beach track! A street circuit is always diffi­cult to learn, but I’m looking forward to it! Bill is the perfect team mate for this race because of his expe­ri­ence at his home race. I’m sure I will be up to speed quickly!”

Joey Hand, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – “A key to success at Long Beach is to unload fast. We’ve been able to do that most every year and I don’t see any reason that we won’t do it again this year. With a lower center of gravity and a wider stance than our previous M3s, the new Z4 GTE should be more agile and easier to place in the confines of the Long Beach circuit.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE –“After a really successful debut with our new BMW Z4 GTE I am looking forward for the next high­light at Long Beach. The track suits my driving style and I love the street circuits. The team has been working hard following Sebring and I am excited to bring momentum from the VLN win at the Nurbur­gring this past weekend.”

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. Tele­vi­sion coverage will be broad­cast on ABC tele­vi­sion on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET. 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, 117 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.

Jour­nalist note: Infor­ma­tion about BMW Group and its prod­ucts in the USA is avail­able to jour­nal­ists on-line at www.bmwgroupusanews.com and www.press.bmwna.com.