BMW Team RLL Qualifies Second and Third for 62nd 12 Hours of Sebring

Wood­cliff Lake, N.J. – March 14, 2014 … The intense compe­ti­tion the GTLM class demon­strated during the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January defi­nitely increased in today’s qual­i­fying session for the 62nd annual 12 Hours of Sebring. The top-seven cars of the 11-car class qual­i­fied within one second. The top three spots were even closer, seem­ingly only the blink of an eye covering the pole winning Porsche and the two BMW Team RLL Z4 machines.

Dirk Müller’s  lap of 1:59.024 minutes around the 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring Inter­na­tional Raceway put the No. 56 BMW Z4 only .091 seconds in arrears of the pole sitting No. 912 Porsche of Michael Chris­tensen. Müller will co-drive with John Edwards and Dirk Werner. The No. 55 BMW Z4 GTLM of Bill Auberlen qual­i­fied in the third posi­tion with a lap of 1:59.094 minutes – only .070 seconds behind Müller. Auberlen will co-drive with Joey Hand and Andy Priaulx.

We are obvi­ously pleased with the pace of the Z4,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Prin­cipal. “We are not the fastest, but we are right in the middle of it all. This race doesn’t depend on where you start, as it is a long hard race. It is all about having a comfort­able car that can be driven hard. So far — so good. We have been fortu­nate to win this race a couple of times, but there are twice as many cars in the race this year than there has been in the past, so the oppor­tu­ni­ties to hit some­body or get hit by some­body is far greater. It is really going to be about staying out of trouble. There is a big differ­ence in the speed of the cars and the caliber of the drivers, so you really have to be on your toes, drive defen­sively as much as you can and still be fast. It will be a balancing act.”

BMW Team RLL finished second and fourth in the Rolex 24 At Daytona — the only team in the GTLM class to finish both team cars in the top-five. Book-ended by the 2009 and 2013 seasons when it intro­duced the M3 GT and Z4 GTE, BMW Team RLL has five podium finishes at Sebring, including back-to-back victo­ries in 2011 and 2012.

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (2nd) – “Second and third is fantastic. When I came into the pits I was on pole and I hoped to keep that posi­tion right to the end of the session. This morning in prac­tice four I spent an hour in the car preparing for qual­i­fying and it was a lot of fun driving it then. Being less than a tenth away from pole is very close and Bill just behind. It’s amazing how close the times are. In reality qual­i­fying doesn’t count for that much at the end of the day because it is a very long race.”

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (3rd) – “I have never felt better going into this race. If I was to pencil in who I would want as my team-mates, I have got them. I have the car I want to be in and the team I want behind me. We have every element needed to win Sebring. We’ll have to stay smart to get to the end with the amount of inex­pe­ri­ence in this large field, but once there we’ll be ready.”

The 62nd annual Twelve Hours of Sebring takes the green flag at 10:15 a.m. ET tomorrow. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. Fox Sports 1 will carry live coverage of the first three hours of the race. The remainder of the event will be streamed live on IMSA.com and the FOX Sports Go mobile app. FOX Sports 1 will also tele­vise a three-hour high­light show begin­ning at 8:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 16th. More infor­ma­tion on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.imsa.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 339 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motor­cycle retailers, 119 MINI passenger car dealers, and 35 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.