Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – May 5, 2017… BMW Team RLL returned to the sharp end of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship field in today’s 15-minute qualifying session for Saturday’s Advance Auto SportsCar Showdown as John Edwards scored the first pole position of the season for BMW. Edwards, driving the No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM he shares with Martin Tomczyk, lapped the 3.4-mile, 20-turn Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas, with a 2:02.833 minute lap to top the very close GTLM grid and record a new qualifying record. The entire field was separated by less than one second, with only two-tenths of a second between the first six cars. The pole was the 23rd of the BMW Team RLL program and the third for Edwards as a BMW Team RLL driver (Lime Rock Park, 2013; Road America, 2014).
Alexander Sims, driving the No. 25 M6 GTLM, qualified in the third position with a 2:02.990 minute lap – only .157 seconds from Edwards. Today’s results represent a turning point for the BMW M6 GTLM program that has taken strong steps since the 12 Hours of Sebring in March to increase the competitiveness of its effort.
“Getting the first pole of the season with a qualifying record has meant a lot of hard work with everyone involved within BMW Team RLL and to see this result brings a boost of enthusiasm to the team,” said Neil Fife, BMW Team RLL Race Engineer. “COTA is a very abrasive track, so maintaining the performance of the car over the long run is really going to be the key for tomorrow. We are looking optimistic but we know it is going to be a tough race.”
John Edwards, driver No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM (P1): “It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a pole, so it is really gratifying to see number one after I stepped out of the car. It was nerve racking but ultimately I was able to stay on top and keep the pole. COTA is a challenging place as it has a little mix of everything. There is less than a quarter of a second separating the first seven cars so we know tomorrow is going to be a very tight race. Managing the tires and traffic are going to play a key role and we’ll do everything we can to close it up tomorrow for a win here at COTA.”
Alexander Sims, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (P3): “Congratulations to the sister car that got pole! It was a very close qualification session and I think we did a pretty good job. The car felt well balanced and we were able to have some clean laps with just the GTLM field out at the track. We are looking forward to the race and I think we are in good shape of scoring a podium finish.”
The Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown takes the green flag at 1:35 p.m. CT Saturday, May 6. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the race on a tape-delayed basis that evening beginning at 7:00 ET. 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.
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.