Road Atlanta (US), 4th October 2014. The inaugural season of the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) came to a close with a turbulent Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (US) on Saturday. BMW Team RLL’s Dirk Müller (DE), John Edwards (US) and Dirk Werner (DE) came seventh in the GTLM class with their number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM after 388 laps. The 11th round of the year was won by Porsche drivers Wolf Henzler (DE), Bryan Sellers (US) and Marco Holzer (DE).
For the number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM, however, the USCC finale came to an early end: After less than three hours, Joey Hand (US) was forced to retire the car due to engine problems. Alongside Hand, the team’s regular drivers Bill Auberlen (US) and Andy Priaulx (GB) had shared driving duties in the black BMW Z4 GTLM.
Another BMW team had reason to be happy after the ten-hour race near Braselton (US), Georgia: Turner Motorsport. The number 94 BMW Z4 GTD, driven by Dane Cameron (US), Markus Palttala (FI) and Christoffer Nygaard (DK), took the chequered flag fourth in the GTD class. This result secured Cameron the crown in the drivers’ classification as well as the team title for Turner Motorsport.
The first United SportsCar Championship season had led the BMW teams to some of North America’s nicest and most spectacular race tracks following a successful opening at the Daytona (US) 24 Hours. BMW Team RLL recorded two pole positions and six GTLM podium finishes in 2014. Turner Motorsport has celebrated a total of four GTD wins since January.
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal, BMW Team RLL):
“It was disappointing obviously to have a mechanical on the 55 car, and actually both cars had some mechanical issues. With the 56 car we were sort of competitive and it was looking good in the first part of the race, then we had a broken damper which cost us three laps, and that is very much where we ended up. All in all it was a disappointing way to end up the year, but everybody gave it their best shots today and we will just start getting ready for next year. Looking back at the year, there were some good races and not so good races. We gave it our best shot every weekend, and ultimately that is what you have to do. We had some good runs earlier in the year in Daytona and Sebring, but as the season went on it just became more difficult for us. I hope over the winter time we can find some improvements with our competitiveness.”
Dirk Müller (Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“I have had kind of a tough day. My first stint was brilliant and the car felt really good. I was pushing and doing qualifying laps for nearly two hours. Then I had a couple of issues. In my second stint a huge piece of debris all of a sudden knocked off my mirror on the left side. The traffic was a big problem and I was stopped behind a PC car for two laps, but everybody was having the same traffic problem. Then three or four laps before the end of my final stint suddenly I went over the crest at turn 11 and the damper broke without any contact. That was a real shame as I was P3 at that point and looking really strong.”
John Edwards (Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“I have had a busy weekend and it started off great driving with Trent Hindman and winning the GS championship in the BMW M3 for Fall-Line Motorsports and BMW. With BMW Team RLL we struggled in Austin and we had a feeling we wouldn’t have the pace today, but it is a ten-hour race so we were hopeful. Even at Daytona we didn’t have the pace, but both cars were in contention and one was on the podium. We were optimistic, but unfortunately we had a broken shock. That was a bit of a mystery but those things happen in long races. It made for a bit of a frustrating day, but that is endurance racing.”
Dirk Werner (Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“The race has now turned out to be a tough one for the whole team, and it is a shame as we were running pretty well considering the performance issues we had this weekend, especially because of the BoP. We stayed in the race, made no mistakes and have done everything right up to the point where the car had a problem. I was definitely happy to be part of the team again and support it at the last race. I enjoyed it a lot and thanks to them for supporting me very well. This was not the last race of the season I wanted to have, but that is racing.”
Bill Auberlen (Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“On my second lap I went over turn four and the engine shut off for about three seconds and then just turned back on, so I wonder if the two are going to be related. It was just nice and easy. I was cruising and letting everybody else do what they do and they just did – they all hit each other in the pit lane. They go behind the wall and we think we are going to be able to move up to sixth place. No sooner do we move up than we encounter our own problems.”
Andy Priaulx (Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“It is a disappointing end to the year, as we have been leading the championship at times and have come here still in with a chance of it. I think everyone in the team has done a great job. My issue was with the clutch, as under the safety car I went to depress it and there was nothing there. We could run the rest of the race with no clutch, but it would have been impossible with this engine problem. Nevertheless, I have had a fantastic first year in America.”
Joey Hand (Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“We were looking okay and the boys were saying the car was the best it had been all weekend. I was looking forward to it and have wanted a good result in this race for a long time. The clutch had failed already, and we had to get it going on the starter in the pit box. I did one lap on the restart, got on the back straight and pulled fifth gear and it just stopped running. That is the way it goes in racing.”