Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – February 23, 2018… This week’s test at Sebring International Raceway saw a new face behind the steering wheel of the BMW M8 GTE as 17-year old Californian Colton Herta drove the No. 24 machine in his very first laps in a GT car as BMW Team RLL prepared for the 66th 12 Hours of Sebring. Herta has been named as a BMW Team RLL test and reserve driver for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Herta, son of IndyCar Series driver Bryan Herta, was recently signed to the BMW Motorsport Junior program where he will participate in many of the program’s disciplines that will support his growth as a young racing driver. Beginning in 1977, the BMW Junior program has proved foundational for many young American drivers; among them Eddie Cheever (1977); Tommy Milner, Graham Rahal, Jonathan Summerton (2004); and Trent Hindman (2015).
The drive at Sebring comes just one month after Herta participated in the Formula E Rookie Test driving a MS&AD Andretti Formula E racing car with BMW’s partner, Andretti Autosport, in Marrakesh, Morocco. This year will also see Herta race in his sophomore Indy Lights Championship season for Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing . He finished third in the 2017 Indy Lights championship.
“Having never driven a GT car before, it was a day of firsts for me,” said Herta. “I really enjoyed the experience and felt that I fit right in. While I was expecting to sense the weight difference from the open wheel cars I currently race but what did take some laps to really understand was the braking. You sit in a different relationship to the tires so your sense of the force is much different. I had thought that a GT car’s grip would be less in the high speed corners, but there was a surprising amount of downforce. On a scale of one to 10, I’d say I’m at a seven. With two or three more sessions I believe I’d be ready to push.
Continuing to comment on being named a BMW Junior he said, “I know Ricky Collard and Beitske Visser (2018 BMW Juniors) so I realize I am in strong company. I am super excited to have this opportunity and ready to take advantage of everything offered.”
“BMW of North America welcomes another young American to the BMW Junior program and we are excited to be able to allow Colton to participate with BMW Team RLL,” commented BMW NA Motorsport Manager Victor Leleu. “His very first laps in the M8 GTE showed the potential BMW knew was there.”
The two-day test offered 16 hours of track time divided over five sessions, including two hours of night practice. Drivers Bill Auberlen, Connor DePhillippi and Alexander Sims drove the No. 25 M8 and John Edwards, Jesse Krohn and Colton Herta in the No. 24 M8. Nicky Catsburg could not make this test and thus opened the seat for Herta who drove for more than one hour during the first day. The test was an opportunity for the team to use the latest BoP changes allowed by IMSA.
Led by Bobby Rahal, BMW Team RLL finished the 2017 IMSA season with four victories including consecutive wins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Petit Le Mans to close the M6 GTLM program in the biggest way. Since 2009, the team has totaled 17 GT class wins among 68 total podium finishes campaigning the BMW M3, BMW Z4 and BMW M6.
The 66th Annual 12 Hours of Sebring will take the green flag at 10:40 a.m. on Saturday, March 17th. 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; Designworks, a strategic design consultancy based 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 344 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 153 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.