Daytona (US), 25th January 2014. The 24-hour race of Daytona (US) is on: The number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM, driven by Dirk Müller (DE), John Edwards (US), Dirk Werner (DE) and Graham Rahal (US) is running sixth in the GTLM category after six hours. Bill Auberlen (US), Andy Priaulx (GB), Joey Hand (US) and Maxime Martin (BE) hold seventh place in the opener of the maiden United SportsCar Championship (USCC) season. At 2:47 hours into the race the endurance classic had to be red-flagged for more than an hour following a serious accident between Ferrari’s Matteo Malucelli (IT) and Corvette driver Memo Gidley (US). At the wheel of his Daytona prototype, Gidley hit Malucelli’s car, which was running slowly on the outside line, at high speed. Both drivers were transported to the nearby Halifax Health Medical Center. In the GTD category, BMW works driver Augusto Farfus (BR) is ranked 21st along with his fellow Turner Motorsport drivers Paul Dalla Lana (CA), Dane Cameron (US) and Markus Palttala (FI) in the BMW Z4 GTD. A collision early in the race had cost the yellow number 94 car several places. Meanwhile, the drivers are racing in the dark at the “Daytona International Speedway”. Martin is currently on duty at the wheel of the number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM, while Werner is driving the number 56 car.
Andy Priaulx (Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM): “We didn’t take any risks, just circulated consistently and stayed out of trouble. It is clear to see we are not the fastest out there, so we are just going to stay out of trouble to be there at the end and see what we can pick up in the last hour. Obviously it was a strange session due to the accident and the long stoppage out on the track. You never want to see another driver have an accident, so I am certain all of us drivers are thinking of the two guys and hoping they are okay.”
Bill Auberlen (Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM): “The start was pretty crazy, cars were spinning, I just had to avoid the accidents and that put us back a bit. We came up nice and easy, as we don’t want to do anything crazy right now. Eventually, because of the strategy we were on, we led six laps. Now we are just waiting for it to come our way.”
Dirk Müller (Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM): “The start was fantastic. I came from P7 and by the first corner I was P3, that was lovely and I liked it. Afterwards we lost a little bit, as it’s not so easy to keep up with the other guys. Nevertheless the car is going fine with no problems. We are having our own speed we want to go, and so far everything is running to plan, so let’s see where we are at the end. I hope that the two drivers involved in the accident were not seriously injured.”
Graham Rahal (Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM): “That accident was nasty. I hope that both drivers are okay. As far as our race is concerned, we knew we would struggle with straight line speed here. But in this race there’s still a long, long way to go. I’m happy with my pace during my stint, and I had a nice fight with a Porsche. However, it’s not so much about the pace, as it’s more important to get through the traffic well.”