Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 15, 2016…Bill Auberlen continued his dominance of the Long Beach streets by scoring the pole position for tomorrow’s 100-minute Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix At Long Beach. Driving the No. 25 BMW Team RLL M6 to a 1:17.272 minute lap around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit he bested the GTLM field for the second consecutive year at Long Beach, and the second consecutive race of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Last year Auberlen and co-driver Dirk Werner won the race. Teammate Lucas Luhr qualified the No. 100 M6 in the sixth position with a quick lap of 1.18.105 minutes. Luhr will co-drive with John Edwards in tomorrow’s race.
BMW Team RLL has had more success at Long Beach than any other venue that has played host to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Since its inaugural season in 2009, the team has not failed to finish the race without at least one BMW on the podium at Long Beach. The Bobby Rahal-led team has won the race three times; once with the BMW M3 in 2011 and twice with the BMW Z4, in 2013 and 2015.
In this morning’s two-hour practice session the No. 100 M6 finished with the second quickest time (1:18.579) with the No. 25 M6 eighth (1:19.148). A 25-minute practice session led into qualifying with the No. 25 M6 third (1:18.091) and the No. 100 M6 sixth (1:18.508).
BMW Team RLL is looking to the race at Long Beach to celebrate the first win with the BMW M6 GTLM. Introduced at Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, the two new M6 machines showed strength, but succumbed to teething problems with the No. 25 car finishing fifth. The No. 100 car did not finish. At the 12 Hours of Sebring in mid-March the story was a different one as Bill Auberlen scored the class pole in the No. 25 M6, drove the fastest GTLM lap of the race, and finished second with co-drivers Bruno Spengler and Dirk Werner. The No. 100 M6 finished sixth. Both cars totaled to lead the GTLM class for 35% of the race. After two races, BMW stands third in GTLM manufacturer points.
“This is a nice way to end the day and I am very pleased for Bill, who is a local here in southern California and I know that gives him extra motivation,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “I am not sure we thought this circuit might be one of our better ones. On a tight, twisty race track like this for the car to perform like it did makes us happy, and I think we are going to be even happier when we get to the fast circuits. It is a nice place to start tomorrow, and now it is up to us to stay there.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “I had my doubts about a car as luxurious and big as the BMW M6 on the tiny streets with walls around you, and I think my doubts have been put to the side. I am so happy for the team, they know how to set up any car here and Michelin always give us the right choice of tires. In this mornings practice we were way off on balance, so we could not achieve what we wanted to in the session. We had to make a lot of changes from the front to the back of the car, then the track came to us and as soon as I drove it in practice before qualifying I didn’t want to change it.”
Lucas Luhr, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM: “For us, obviously a disappointing qualifying. I struggled with the balance of the car, and also with the rear grip. It never felt like it was on new tires, and then you have nothing to fight with on a street course. We have a lot of work to do for tomorrow if we want to move forward, but this is going to be difficult. When we see what our sister car did and Bill’s mega lap, we have to figure out what the situation is, because something is not right and it is not normal to have the two cars so far apart.”
The Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix At Long Beach takes the green flag at 4:05 p.m. PT Saturday, April 16 with the live broadcast beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.
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 and X4 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 340 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 153 BMW motorcycle retailers, 124 MINI passenger car dealers, and 36 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.
The BMW Group
With its three brands, BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce, the BMW Group is the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and also provides premium financial and mobility services. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 30 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.
In 2014, the BMW Group sold approximately 2.118 million cars and 123,000 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax for the financial year 2013 was euro 7.91 billion on revenues amounting to approximately euro 76.06 billion. As of 31 December 2013, the BMW Group had a workforce of 110,351 employees.
The success of the BMW Group has always been built on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy.
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, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan, has been competing for over two decades. Prior to the start of their 25th season of competition in 2016, the team has compiled 37 victories, 49 poles, 144 podium finishes, three series championships (1992, 2010, 2011) and claimed 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. The following year the team won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category and swept all three GT titles – Manufacturer, Team and Driver – in 2011. In 2012 the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. The 2014 season brought a new challenge with the creation of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the team finished on the podium six times including four second-place finishes. In 2015, the team earned three wins, two poles and a total of eight podium finishes to finish second in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships. Prior to the start of the 2016 season BMW Team RLL had won 13 races, 20 poles and 57 podium finishes.