Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Aug. 27, 2017… BMW Team RLL’s fourth and ninth place finishes in today’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Michelin GT Challenge at VIR are far different than the first 85 laps of the 93 completed would have predicted. A left front tire puncture with eight laps remaining forced the No. 25 M6 GTLM of Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims into the pits after controlling the majority of the two-hour-and-forty-minute race and, ultimately, a disappointing fourth place finish. After a strong start, two technical issues with the No. 24 M6, of John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk, only allowed a total of 72 laps to be completed and a ninth place finish.
Sims made the most from the outside of the front row starting position to race the No. 25 M6 into the lead of the race just after the green flag waved. Continuing to press, he opened a healthy gap to the field and led for his entire opening stint before pitting to hand off to Auberlen on lap 29, some 49 minutes into the race. Auberlen rejoined the race in fifth and then cycled back to the point on lap 31 as the rest of the field completed their first pit stops. Edwards, starting from the third spot, maintained his position until an issue with the steering of the No. 24 M6 forced him to the garages on lap 12 for repairs. Unfortunately, 11 laps were lost before the car could return to competition.
At the mid-point of the two-hour-and-forty-minute contest Auberlen had completed 48 laps, leading the field by 23 seconds. Edwards raced 10 laps down, having regained one lap during pit stops. Tomczyk entered the No. 24 M6 on lap 43 and was only able to continue for 29 more laps until his race ended in the garage on lap 72. The crew called the No. 25 M6 early to the pits on lap 56 following a low tire pressure alert. Sims reentered the car while the crew changed tires and fueled, rejoining the race in seventh with one hour remaining. As the balance of the field pitted for a second time, he cycled back to the lead on lap 63. He controlled the race until a second low pressure signal brought him back into the pits on lap 85 and a change of the left front Michelin. Ultimately, the win was gone and a fourth place finish was the result.
“To have the race in hand and lose to a puncture is extremely disappointing,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “There is really nothing more to say.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (P4): “I have raced for many years, and a loss like we had today never gets easier to deal with. The complexion of the championship now changes out of our favor, but there is no giving up.”
Alexander Sims, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (P4): “What a disappointing end to a great race. We had great pace – probably the best car I’ve had all year in the first stint – but it all went away with the second puncture.”
John Edwards, driver No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM (P9): “A steering issue and the resulting repairs put an end to any chance for a good result for the No. 24 M6 and two punctures took a win from our teammates. Certainly, a disappointing day, but on the positive side we showed the potential for a win.”
Martin Tomczyk, driver No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM (P9): “A technical issue has kept us from another good result, but we have two races remaining in the season and we will get back to podium before it is over.”
Round Ten of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, will be held Sept. 24 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in Salinas, Calif. The race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 5:00 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; 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 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.