Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 3, 2017… The Long Beach, California street circuit has been the site of many BMW Team RLL successes since the team’s first season racing for BMW in 2009. The team has finished the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race, for a second consecutive year sponsored by BUBBA® burger, with at least one BMW on the podium every year except last season. The Bobby Rahal-led team has won the street race three times; once with the BMW M3 GT in 2011 and twice with the BMW Z4 GTLM, in 2013 and 2015. Last year, Bill Auberlen qualified the new M6 GTLM racer on the class pole position, but finished a disappointing fifth after multiple contact with competitors ended another podium opportunity.
The Long Beach street course is only 1.968 miles long and the race is the shortest of the season at 100 minutes. Far different than the season’s opening 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring endurance events, success is often dictated by how the caution periods fall and how a team executes the race’s one planned pit stop and driver change.
To date in 2017, the team has scored a season’s best sixth place finish at the 12 Hours of Sebring. At Long Beach, season-long drivers Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims will be in the No. 25 M6 and John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk will pilot the No. 24 M6.
The GTLM class Balance of Performance was adjusted by IMSA following Sebring and the M6 GTLM will benefit from an increase in boost in the rev range from 2000 to 7250 rpm. The fuel tank volume was also increased by 3 liters to total 108 liters of E20 fuel.
“It’s been a challenging year,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “However, if you look back at how we did at Long Beach last year – being on pole with Bill, with the car in its third race at that stage, the race was very positive for us. I would like to think that we can repeat that performance this year. It’s a very big car and of course it’s a very narrow track so that gives our drivers an extra challenge. If you look at our history at Long Beach, we’ve been pretty successful with BMW Team RLL having won three times and earned a number of podiums beyond that so we go there with a positive outlook based on past performance from both BMW and the team.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “Long Beach is the highlight sprint race of the year. I always look forward to the weekend for two primary reasons. First, it’s my home track and, secondly, I’ve won twice in the last few years. Last year, I qualified on the pole, setting a new lap record in the BMW M6 GTLM. This year I hope for a repeat of that, but also to be standing on the top step of the podium at the end of the race.”
Alexander Sims, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “I am thoroughly looking forward to the Long Beach weekend. It will be my first time there and having watched the onboard videos, the circuit looks to be a brilliant challenge. I’ve been enjoying working with the team and am just looking forward to getting to Long Beach and trying to exploit all we can from our M6 GTLM.”
John Edwards, driver No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM: “I always enjoy racing at Long Beach because it’s the only street circuit we go to in the GTLM season. The walls are closer and consequences are higher, but we can feel the fan support more on a street circuit, even as we walk to pit lane to get ready for every session. I’m also looking forward to the first sprint race of the season, as the intensity is higher and mistakes are more costly when we only have one pit stop in a 100 minute race.”
Martin Tomczyk, driver No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM: “It is always exciting to race on a street circuit. Long Beach will be my first in the States. I know the nine hour time difference between my home in Germany and California will not make it easy, but I am up for the challenge. After two disappointing races at Daytona and Sebring we are ready to prove the performance of our M6.”
The Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix At Long Beach takes the green flag at 1:05 p.m. PT Saturday, April 8th, with the live television broadcast beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET on FOX. 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 341 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 152 BMW motorcycle retailers, 127 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 31 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.
In 2016, the BMW Group sold approximately 2.367 million cars and 145,000 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax was approximately € 9.67 billion on revenues amounting to € 94.16 billion. As of 31 December 2016, the BMW Group had a workforce of 124,729 employees.
The success of the BMW Group has always been based 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 26th season of competition in 2017, the team had compiled 38 victories, 51poles,151 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 IMSA 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 and added two poles and three podiums in 2016. Prior to the start of the 2017 season, BMW Team RLL had won 13 races, 22 poles and 60 podium finishes.