Road Atlanta (US), 3rd October 2014. In the final qualifying of the 2014 United SportsCar Championship (USCC) season at Road Atlanta (US), BMW Team RLL qualified seventh and 11th for the GTLM grid. Driving the number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM, Dirk Müller (DE) recorded a personal best time of 1:19.143 minutes in the 15-minute session. This put the German, who will share driving duties with John Edwards (US) and Dirk Werner (DE) in Saturday’s race, in seventh.
At the wheel of the number 55 car, Bill Auberlen (US) tackled qualifying for the classic Petit Le Mans. After completing seven laps, the experienced BMW driver had to make do with 11th on the grid. Auberlen will alternate at the wheel of the BMW Z4 GTLM with his team-mates Andy Priaulx (GB) and Joey Hand (US). It was Porsche’s Nick Tandy (GB) who secured pole position, setting a best time of 1:18.350 minutes.
In the GTD class, Turner Motorsport put itself in a promising position for the final showdown of the title fight: Dane Cameron (US) clocked a time of 1:22.682 minutes, earning him fifth on the GTD grid. He will race alongside Markus Palttala (FI) in the BMW Z4 GTD. Going into the season finale, Cameron is leading the driver standings, Turner Motorsport holds the lead in the team classification.
When the 11th race of the season starts at 11.15 local time on Saturday, the BMW Team RLL drivers can rely on a useful innovation, especially in the dark during the final stage of the ten-hour endurance race: For the first time, both BMW Z4 GTLM cars will be equipped with the BMW Laser Light technology that had its debut for BMW during the qualifying race for the Nürburgring (DE) 24 Hours in early April, becoming the first manufacturer to compete at a race with this innovation. The main benefits for the drivers are the perfect illumination of the track and the ability to adjust the headlamps to suit the driver’s preferences – and all without blinding other traffic.
On Friday all BMW fans had good reason to celebrate at the track near Braselton (US, Georgia: After finishing second in the final race of the 2014 season, Fall-Line Motorsports celebrated the title with its BMW M3 in the GS class of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Trent Hindman (US) secured the drivers’ title, Fall-Line triumphed in the team standings. The manufacturers’ crown also went to BMW.
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal, BMW Team RLL):
“I think it is the best we could have done. Unfortunately Bill Auberlen had a bit of an off there that flat spotted his tyres, and so he was really unable to get the most out of the car. For Dirk Müller I think he was happy with the car and that was about as fast as it would go. A lot can happen in ten hours, especially here.”
Dirk Müller (Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“To be honest I am happy as I couldn’t have done better. Normally you have your last practice in the morning and then qualifying at the end of the day, but today was different as we had rain wash out free practice and my last laps were yesterday at the beginning of the night practice. We have changed quite a bit on the car from then and I am happy with it. I think I matched my maximum lap time in the car, but we have to admit the balance of performance is not helping us.”
Bill Auberlen (Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“Something has been creeping up on us this weekend, and we have been a bit off the pace. I went out and had a very difficult time with the car. Right out of the gate I couldn’t make it do anything. The harder and harder I pushed the slower it went. We are all scratching our heads. We are actually going backwards as we had a light car with brand new tyres. This should have been the best it had been and by far it was the worst it had been. We have a lot of work to do tonight.”