ALMS News

BMW Team RLL Finishes Third at ALMS Monterey; Müller Takes GT Driver Points Lead

Wood­cliff Lake, N.J. – May 11, 2013… Dirk Müller and John Edwards, driving the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE, scored a third place finish in today’s four-hour Amer­ican Le Mans Monterey race. A second consec­u­tive podium finish for the No. 56 machine and a win for the No. 55 car at Long Beach in only the third race of the new program keeps BMW in second place in the GT class manu­fac­turer point stand­ings and moves Müller to the top of the GT class driver points.

Read More

BMW Team RLL Finishes 1 – 2 at Long Beach; Z4 GTE Wins in Only Second Race of Debut Season

Wood­cliff Lake, N.J. — April 20, 2013 … The streets of Long Beach, Cali­fornia continue to be the favorite stomping grounds of BMW Team RLL as they finished 1 – 2 in today’s Amer­ican Le Mans at Long Beach race. In only the second race for the new BMW Z4 GTE, the team beat a very compet­i­tive GT class field with excel­lent strategy set in place during the first hour of the two-hour contest around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn tempo­rary street circuit. BMW Team RLL has finished with at least one car on the Long Beach podium, including a win from the pole in 2011, for five consec­u­tive years. Today’s victory puts BMW in a tie with Chevrolet at the top of the GT Class Manu­fac­turer points. The win was also the first for the new BMW-Michelin partnership.

Bill Auberlen and Maxime Martin, driving the Frozen Black No. 55 Z4 GTE, won the race, finishing 6.578 seconds ahead of the No. 56 Z4 GTE of Joey Hand and Dirk Müller.

Martin started in the No. 55 car from the fourth spot. A spin on lap two dropped him to the rear of the field, but the first of three long caution periods in the first hour of the race gave the 55 crew the chance to reverse their fortune. Pitting Martin after 25 minutes, on lap 16, Auberlen got behind the wheel with a full tank of fuel and new Miche­lins. During the second caution period Auberlen pitted twice more for fuel only. When the race went green with 44 minutes run, the die was cast for the veteran to not return to the pits for the remainder of the race. A third caution during which the rest of field pitted allowed for a bit more breathing room for fuel conser­va­tion and Auberlen to cycle to the second posi­tion as the race went green just past the first hour. On lap 66 with 15 minutes left in the race, Auberlen took the lead and drove to his first win at the Long Beach.

The No. 56 Z4 GTE had an equally exciting race. Hand started the car from the seventh starting posi­tion. He pitted during the third caution period and handed the car to Müller who began his stint from the third spot as the race went green. Charging for the entire second hour he took over second place with two laps remaining to give BMW Team RLL its first 1 – 2 finish since the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2011.

This is a really good one,” said Bobby Rahal. “The 55 car called excel­lent strategy. We followed a different tact and at the end we put both cars at the front of the field and the Z4 GTE into the history books with a 1 – 2 finish in only our second race. We were able to run more than one stint on the Miche­lins and that was crucial to make our strate­gies work. There is nothing like winning at Long Beach. Sebring is the big one, but Long Beach is not far behind in my book.”

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – “Today the Z4 GTE took me to the top of the Long Beach podium and that is some­thing I have tried to do for a very long time. Great strategy by the team and the Miche­lins were an absolute plea­sure to drive on all day.”

Maxime Martin, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – “I had a little mistake in the begin­ning, but who was to know that it would set the stage for a great strategy call by Jay (O’Connell) and Bruno (Couprie). Today is a fantastic day for Bill and BMW.”

Joey Hand, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – “After qual­i­fying seventh I was not pleased, but I told the crew that I thought we could win. It wasn’t our win today, but I could not be happier for Bill to get his first win at his home track. Dirk did a great job to bring the car home second.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – “Congrat­u­la­tions to Bill for his first win at Long Beach. At the end Bobby was on the radio telling me to push, but to make sure I brought it home. It was not easy to get by Dominick (Farn­bacher), but being old team­mates I knew he would be fair. I am delighted for the entire BMW Team RLL family.”

The race will be broad­cast on ABC tele­vi­sion tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. ET. More infor­ma­tion on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.alms.com.

Round Three of the 2013 Amer­ican Le Mans Series will be held at Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, Calif., on May 11 with the running of the six-hour Amer­ican Le Mans Monterey race.

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: Photog­raphy for edito­rial purposes as well as 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.

BMW Team RLL Z4 Qualifies 5th and 7th at Long Beach

Wood­cliff Lake, N.J. – April 19, 2013 … BMW Team RLL will start in the fifth and seventh posi­tions for tomorrow’s two-hour ALMS at Long Beach race, the second round of the 2013 Amer­ican Le Mans Series.

Bill Auberlen, driving the Frozen Black No. 55 Z4 GTE, saved his best lap for last in this afternoon’s 15-minute qual­i­fying session. Only 0.218 seconds from the class pole time, his lap of 1:19.063 minutes on his ninth lap of the 1.968-mile, 11-turn tempo­rary street circuit was good enough for the fifth starting posi­tion. Always one of the most compet­i­tive races of the ALMS season, the entire GT class is only sepa­rated by 0.688 seconds. Auberlen will share the No. 55 machine with Maxime Martin.

Joey Hand strug­gled with the set-up of the No. 56 Z4 GTE and his fast lap of 1:19.258 minutes will see him and co-driver Dirk Müller roll off seventh. Hand and Müller won this race from the pole in 2011 and finished second last year.

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.

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – (5th) “I believe we made some good choices after this morning’s prac­tice and the No. 55 Z4 GTE was a plea­sure to drive. That I was able to set my quickest time on my last lap means we have some­thing for the race. A few tenths off the pole in such a compet­i­tive class means we’ll start fifth, but we have a car that can reach the podium tomorrow.”

Joey Hand, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – (7th) “We just were not 100% this after­noon. I’m not sure why, but I was not comfy and I could not produce the lap time to do better than P7. We’re racing at a compe­ti­tion level in this class that does not allow you to be off even a little.”

Live streaming of the race can be found on ESPN3.com. Follow us 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.

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.
 

Promising Race Debut: BMW Team RLL Finishes Fourth and Seventh as BMW Z4 GTE Makes First Appearance at 12 Hours of Sebring

Sebring (US), 16th March 2013. For more than eight hours a top result was in reach for BMW Team RLL at the Amer­ican Le Mans Series (ALMS) season opener at the “Sebring Inter­na­tional Raceway” (US). While in the end tech­nical prob­lems in the final third of the race denied Bobby Rahal’s (US) squad a shot at a possible podium finish, BMW Motor­sport was able to draw a posi­tive conclu­sion after the race debut of the newly devel­oped BMW Z4 GTE. The two cars showed a promising pace, finishing fourth and seventh in the GT cate­gory after 12 hours.

Bill Auberlen (US), Maxime Martin (BE) and Jörg Müller (DE) were able to battle it out at the front of the field with the Frozen Black No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE for most of the endurance classic, before the trio lost time and posi­tions due to an issue with the power steering. After 330 laps, final-stint driver Müller crossed the line in fourth. The No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE, driven by Dirk Müller (DE), Joey Hand (US) and John Edwards (US), deliv­ered an equally strong race, even leading for several kilo­me­tres in the BMW Z4 GTE’s maiden ALMS race. However, a problem with the front left strut with three and a half hours to go made repair work neces­sary. Dirk Müller lost many posi­tions, drop­ping down from second. Hand ulti­mately took the chequered flag in seventh. Corvette’s Oliver Gavin (GB), Tommy Milner (US) and Richard West­brook (GB) claimed victory in the GT class.

BMW Motor­sport and BMW Team RLL, never­the­less, had every reason to be satis­fied with the first outing of the BMW Z4 GTE in race condi­tions – on one of North America’s most chal­lenging circuits. All six drivers, including the series newcomers Martin and Edwards, were able to record compet­i­tive lap times with the new car and chal­lenge the strong compe­ti­tion at the front of the GT pack. In addi­tion, the engi­neers collected valu­able insights over the course of the weekend, which will now be used for further devel­op­ment the car and getting it prepared for the second ALMS race at Long Beach (US) on 20th April.

For the first time since 2010, BMW Team RLL had to cede GT victory at this 12-hour race to another team. The team had triumphed in both 2011 and 2012 with the BMW M3 GT at this event. Overall, BMW has scored four class wins in Sebring. On top of this, the BMW 3.0 CSL scored overall victory in 1975, as did the BMW V12 LMR proto­type in 1999.

Jens Marquardt (BMW Motor­sport Director):

We didn’t neces­sarily expect to be able to set our sights on top posi­tions with the new BMW Z4 GTE in the GT class of the Amer­ican Le Mans Series from the word go. The lap times and the consis­tency of our drivers was promising, both cars were able to fight among the front-runners in the first two thirds of the race. Unfor­tu­nately they lost ground due to tech­nical grem­lins. However, it hardly comes as a surprise that such prob­lems can occur on a car that hasn’t completed too many kilo­me­tres of testing. In any case, BMW Team RLL and the BMW Motor­sport crew proved their fighting spirit until the very end and deliv­ered a good perfor­mance. The BMW Z4 GTE proved its poten­tial, and that’s what we had all hoped for. In addi­tion we saw just how strong our driver line-up is. All six of them were running really well. Now we will draw the right conclu­sions from this race and are looking forward to our second ALMS outing in Long Beach. It’s all about getting closer to the limit of the BMW Z4 GTE on a race by race basis, and today we have taken the first step.”

Bobby Rahal (Team Prin­cipal BMW Team RLL):

Sebring usually puts the biggest demands on the cars, and that’s what we also saw today. This race was a true test for our new car. Obvi­ously there are still some issues that we need to sort out. But when the car was out on the track, it ran compet­i­tively. So that gives us a lot of opti­mism for the future. We were in a good posi­tion to do well in this race, but a better result just couldn’t be. We will be ready for the next race.”

Bill Auberlen (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

I think everyone is surprised about how good it went for us overall here in Sebring. BMW Motor­sport once more came up with a compet­i­tive car from the word go. Of course we need to improve in certain areas, but anything else would come as a big surprise. The whole team did a great job, never gave up and really deserved this fourth place finish.”

Maxime Martin (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

This has been a very exciting weekend for me. I really enjoyed my first ALMS appear­ance and instantly felt at home at BMW Team RLL. Fourth is a good result to start with. Maybe we could have scored an even better result under normal circumstances.”

Jörg Müller (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

During my first stint I hit another car with the front of our BMW Z4 GTE, which had a nega­tive effect on the balance. With every pit stop we managed to improve the situ­a­tion more. For many hours the car went like clock­work and we were able to push really hard. Finishing fourth is quite okay consid­ering the prob­lems we had.”

Dirk Müller (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

Obvi­ously it’s a bit of a pity we dropped back in the final stages of the race. However, things like that just happen at the debut of a brand new car. However, I walk away from Sebring with many posi­tive thoughts in my mind. I’m really happy that the new season is finally underway, and the BMW Z4 GTE makes me really look forward to the next races. Of course there’s still a lot of work to do, but the basis is defi­nitely good.”

Joey Hand (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

This has been a decent debut for our BMW Z4 GTE. We could really feel in the cockpit how ‘racy’ this car is. We gained a lot of expe­ri­ence, not just regarding the car, but also regarding our new Michelin tyres. After our victo­ries in the past finishing seventh feels a bit unfa­miliar. But I’m sure the BMW Z4 GTE has got every­thing that is needed to be back at the front really soon.”

John Edwards (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

It’s been just a great feeling to race this unbe­liev­able car here in Sebring. I managed to find a nice rhythm, and the BMW Z4 GTE really made life easy for me. I’m happy that I slotted in well in this new envi­ron­ment. The engi­neers and my team-mates helped me in a sensa­tional way. Expe­ri­ence is just such an impor­tant factor at this track. Normally we could have chal­lenged for a better result. Still we should be happy with this promising debut.”

BMW Team RLL Qualifies Eighth and Ninth for Sebring 12 Hours

Sebring (US), 15th March 2013. The new BMW Z4 GTE expe­ri­enced another first at Sebring (US) on Friday and took part in its maiden Amer­ican Le Mans Series (ALMS) qual­i­fying session. In the contest for the top grid posi­tions for the classic 12-hour race, Maxime Martin (BE) was in action driving the “Frozen Black” No. 55 car. Joey Hand (US) took to the track at the wheel of the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE. Martin clocked the eighth-fastest GT-class time, setting a 1:59.736-minute lap, while Hand was 0.111 seconds behind in ninth. Ferrari’s Gian­maria Bruni (IT) secured pole posi­tion for the 61st staging of the race, posting a lap time of 1:58.815 minutes.

BMW Team RLL had made full use of the previous days at the “Sebring Inter­na­tional Raceway” to gain further valu­able expe­ri­ence with the BMW Z4 GTE. The race, which will go green on Saturday at 10:30hrs local time, will be the first real endurance test for the newly devel­oped car. Martin will then team up with Bill Auberlen (US) and Jörg Müller (DE), while Hand will alter­nate at the wheel of the No. 56 car with Dirk Müller (DE) and John Edwards (US).

Bobby Rahal (Team Prin­cipal of BMW Team RLL):

We have worked really hard this week on preparing the car for the race, not so much for qual­i­fying. The other cars in the field are far more devel­oped, and the teams know them in and out. This is some­thing which has a big impact on a track like Sebring. However, the gap to the front-runners isn’t too bad. We should be well-prepared for the race and have a reli­able car. The whole team will go on pushing hard, and I’m quite opti­mistic for Saturday.”

Maxime Martin (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

Overall I’m happy with my first ALMS qual­i­fying. There wasn’t much more we could do today. It’s a long race though, and a lot of things can happen. The BMW Z4 GTE is quite good, although we are just at the begin­ning of its devel­op­ment. However, there’s still a lot of work to do. But we already knew this. I am really enjoying my maiden race weekend with BMW Team RLL. Every­thing is new for me, but I am getting along really well.”

Joey Hand (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

Of course we always want to start from further up on the grid. Intro­ducing a new car into such a tough series as the ALMS is a big chal­lenge. The BMW Z4 GTE feels really good already. It’s all about making the next steps now and getting the full poten­tial out of it. We have come a long way within a reason­ably short period of time. We are in the mix – and I’m quite confi­dent for the race.”

BMW Z4 GTE Race Debut in Sebring – BMW Team RLL Ready for Fifth ALMS Season

Munich (DE), 12th March 2013. The 2013 season of the Amer­ican Le Mans Series (ALMS) is not the only thing kicking off at the 12 Hours of Sebring (US) this weekend. The race also marks the start of a new era in BMW Motorsport’s programme in North America: This is the first time BMW Team RLL will line up against oppo­si­tion in the GT class with the newly devel­oped BMW Z4 GTE.

The BMW Z4 GTE debuts in the wake of an extremely successful Sebring score­card for its prede­cessor, the BMW M3 GT. BMW Team RLL won the GT class at the endurance classic in Florida in both 2011 and 2012. This year, the 61st staging of the race at the “Sebring Inter­na­tional Raceway” will serve as a marker to deter­mine the strength of the new car. At the wheel of a sinister No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE finished in BMW’s Frozen Black will be Bill Auberlen (US), Maxime Martin (BE) and Jörg Müller (DE). The No. 56 car – in classic, Alpine White BMW Motor­sport livery – will be driven by Dirk Müller (DE), Joey Hand (US) and John Edwards (US).

Jens Marquardt (BMW Motor­sport Director):

After all the months of devel­op­ment and prepa­ra­tion with the new BMW Z4 GTE, we are obvi­ously now looking forward to testing ourselves against the oppo­si­tion for the first time in Sebring. We have been very successful at this 12-hour race in recent years. I am excited to see whether the BMW Z4 GTE will cope as well with the specific demands of this race as its prede­cessor the BMW M3 GT did. We would like to start the season with a good result. However, the priority is to capi­talise on the poten­tial of the new car. This will obvi­ously take a while.”

Bobby Rahal (Team Prin­cipal of BMW Team RLL):

We had a reason­ably good test at Sebring. The new BMW Z4 GTE ran rela­tively reli­ably, which is the first battle at a place like Sebring. I don’t know how we stack up against the compe­ti­tion, because we didn’t run with many of them and track condi­tions changed. The drivers seemed to be happy with the handling of the car. I guess I’m never confi­dent going into any race – and partic­u­larly not going into Sebring. However, we can be quite happy with the way our prepa­ra­tion program went. Let’s wait and see what the season opener has in store for us.”

Bill Auberlen (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

This year will be my 20th time at the 12 Hours of Sebring and, after driving the new BMW Z4 GTE at our tests, I’m looking forward to my anniver­sary even more. I think we’re looking quite good, consid­ering the early phase in our devel­op­ment program. It’s a lot of fun to drive the car and my new team­mate, Maxime Martin, is fantastic. There are not many things someone can do for 20 years without it ever getting a little boring. Racing is one of those things. I am more passionate about it every year.”

Maxime Martin (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

I’ve heard many great things about Sebring. The track is completely ‘Amer­ican Style’. By that I mean it is very bumpy with walls every­where. It is quite different to the Euro­pean circuits I’m used to. The BMW Z4 GTE made a good impres­sion on me in our two-day test at Sebring. I’m really looking forward to the race.”

Jörg Müller (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

I really enjoyed my return to Sebring in 2012. The atmos­phere in Florida is simply sensa­tional. You can sense just how pleased the ALMS fans are that the winter break is finally over. The new season is welcomed with a big party. BMW Team RLL has prepared intensely for this weekend. We will do our best.”

Dirk Müller (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

I’m always excited to start the season, espe­cially at Sebring. This year almost every­thing is new, from the car and tyres to my two new team-mates. We are obvi­ously well aware it will be very diffi­cult to win the GT class three years in a row, espe­cially with a new car. However, I know everyone in the team is extremely moti­vated to do well.”

Joey Hand (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

Sebring has become a very special place for me with two consec­u­tive wins. In fact, I still hear from people about how exciting last year’s finish was. GT racing in the ALMS – espe­cially at Sebring — is outstanding. It is a race and a place that makes me drive every lap as hard as I can.”

John Edwards (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

I’ve raced in support races to the 12 Hours in previous seasons, but have not been here for four years. Because of this, it was very nice to be able to test here and famil­iarise myself with the Sebring circuit. I’ve kept my eye on ALMS compe­ti­tion in past years and I’m delighted to make my debut at Sebring with BMW and BMW Team RLL.”

Note to editors: To put you in the mood for the start of the ALMS season, you can find a video of the BMW Z4 GTE tests at Sebring here: http://youtu.be/oiDmIqd1iEU