Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Aug. 22, 2017… The August 27th Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway will feature a GT only race for the second time in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship providing a spotlight on BMW Team RLL’s GTLM class points chase. No. 25 M6 GTLM drivers Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims currently stand third in Driver points, only one point from second and nine points from first. No. 26 M6 GTLM drivers John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk stand seventh, 30 points in arrears of Auberlen and Sims. BMW stands third in Manufacturer points, nine points behind Chevrolet and 10 behind Ford.
A run of six podium finishes by the team, including two wins by Auberlen and Sims, in four consecutive races ended with sixth and eighth place finishes at Road America. The classic 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit, in Alton, Va., has only surrendered one podium to BMW Team RLL (Edwards, Dirk Mueller – 2014) so, with only three races remaining this season, the two-hour-and-forty-minute race at VIR takes on increased significance. Adding pressure, a two-day test at the track in June had to be aborted following an accident so the team will have to rely on data from the 2016 event where they finished fifth and eighth.
“We haven’t won at VIR but have certainly run competitively,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We have had a troubled history where we have qualified well but have been taken out. There is a lot of contact in this race traditionally which has happened quite a few times so it’s been a little bit of a frustration for us. It’s a hard race and largely a track-position race in a lot of respects. Traffic plays a huge role in the race and there are long straight-aways so acceleration off the corner and top speed is pretty critical at VIR. We feel pretty good about our chances. It’s just a matter of putting good laps together in qualifying and staying out of trouble so we can be in the hunt. We look forward to it and hopefully we can overcome the disappointment at Elkhart Lake and bring home another win for BMW.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “VIR is an amazing track that should suit the M6. It’s almost a 4 way tie for first in the championship with 3 races to go. We need perfection from here to the season’s end.”
Alexander Sims, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “Virginia should be good fun, as having had a few laps in testing to get used to it, it certainly had a great flow to it and hopefully our BMW will work well there. It’s a bit slower than some of the other circuits we’ve been strong at so we’ll have to be at the top of our game to take it to our competitors, I go there though feeling optimistic we can get a bit of momentum back to our championship challenge.”
John Edwards, driver No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM: “VIR is one of the best circuits in the US, and it’s a GT only battle which means the competition will be as fierce as ever in GTLM. Usually we can try to use prototype traffic to our advantage, but with no prototypes on track we will be fighting for every last thousandth of a second. I’m excited to get back to racing!”
Martin Tomczyk, driver No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM: “VIR definitely has a great layout. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to go testing on this track. After the very disappointing weekend in Road America I am looking forward fighting for the podium again. We are motivated for the last third of the season.”
The Michelin GT Challenge at VIR takes the green flag at 1:35 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 27. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the race live beginning at 1:30 p.m. 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; 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.