Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – July 17, 2019… The July 20th Northeast Grand Prix, at Lime Rock Park, in Lakeville, Conn., marks the start of the second half of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and BMW Team RLL is looking to make the most of its increased competitiveness shown in recent rounds. A one-two BMW M8 GTE qualifying effort resulted in second and fourth place finishes at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and moved BMW back into second place in the GTLM class manufacturer points standings.
The 1.5-mile, 7-turn Lime Rock circuit is fast, bumpy and treacherous – feeling much like a ride on an old wooden roller coaster, seemingly ready to throw its cars and passengers off the rails at any moment. The circuit is a physics lesson, quick to demonstrate the positives of centripetal force versus the negatives of centrifugal. In its previous decade of competition, BMW Team RLL has scored three poles and six podium finishes at Lime Rock, including victories in 2011 and 2013. The team has also seen both of its racing cars wrecked in the 2016 event by aggressive competitors “assisting” the BMWs off the narrow track.
Tom Blomqvist, in his first drive at Lime Rock, and Connor De Phillippi will drive the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE and John Edwards and Jesse Krohn will pilot the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE. De Phillippi, in fourth place, remains the top-standing BMW driver in GTLM Driver points. Edwards and Krohn stand seventh and Blomqvist, having missed the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona is ninth.
“While we have won at Lime Rock previously, it has not always been our friend,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “Last year was the first season for the BMW M8 GTE and we had some new car issues. Based on our performance at CTMP we are more competitive and were back on the podium for the first race since Daytona.”
BMW Team RLL will be supported this weekend by graduates of the BMW Service Technician Education Program (STEP) and a U.S. Marine veteran from the BMW Military Service Technician Education Program (MSTEP). STEP graduates Bretton Setzefpandt (Motowerks, Bloomington, MN), Sergei Pnchyschyn (BMW of Omaha, Omaha NE) and David Graves (BMW of Watertown, Watertown, CT) will join U.S. Marine MSTEP graduate Isaiah Garcia (BMW of Murrietta, Murrietta, CA) as they put to use the skills developed during BMW’s 16-week technician training course to help support the No. 24 and No. 25 BMW M8 GTE cars.
The participating technicians represent some of the best BMW technicians in the U.S. who were nominated to participate by their dealer employers and chosen based on the high-level of skill and professionalism displayed on the job. Each are graduates of the BMW STEP/MSTEP technical training programs which have produced nearly 5,200 BMW technicians over the past 22 years.
The BMW Group Technician Race Crew Program was established in 2018 to recognize and reward outstanding technicians across the BMW dealer network. To date, a total of 54 BMW technicians have participated in the Race Crew Program. BMW Customer Racing teams BimmerWorld Racing and Samantha Tan Racing have also hosted technicians in 2018 and 2019.
The green flag for the Northeast Grand Prix falls at 3:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 20th. The two-hour-and-forty-minute race will be broadcast on NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. Follow us on Twitter @BMWUSARacing for news from the pit box and get live scoring and in-car camera views at IMSA.com.
Tom Blomqvist, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE: “Coming off the back of a strong performance for BMW, the team we would like to continue that run at Lime Rock. The team have been making progress each race and we know the races are won by making smart decisions and executing the race as best as possible – not necessarily having the quickest car. We’re ready and we’re confident we can again fight for the podium.”
Connor De Phillippi, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE: “Coming off two events where we made big strides with the car, I’m excited to see what we can apply at Lime Rock. It’s a tight and twisty bullring creating a lot of close battles. Our main goal will be to have a great qualifying session to start the race with the important track position we will need to battle for the win.”
John Edwards, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE: “After being in the fight for a couple weekends in a row, it was great to finish on the podium in Mosport! It gives us some momentum as we head into the second half of the season. Lime Rock didn’t suit us last year but we’ve improved some things since then and are hoping to be competitive. A win at BMW of North America’s home race would be huge, so we will push hard for it!”
Jesse Krohn, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE: “I am looking forward to Lime Rock after the good weekend at Mosport. It was good to be back on the podium and I hope we can move up one step next weekend. There is no reason why we can’t keep this momentum going and have another strong 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 Rolls-Royce Motor Cars; Designworks, a strategic design consultancy based in California; technology offices in Silicon Valley and Chicago, and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is the BMW Group global center of competence for BMW X models and manufactures the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 Sports Activity Vehicles. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 348 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 148 BMW motorcycle retailers, 122 MINI passenger car dealers, and 37 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.
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 almost three decades. Prior to the start of their 27th season of competition in 2018, the team had compiled 42 victories, 53 poles, 162 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. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two car program and has brought their total to 17 wins, 23 poles and 68 podium finishes as well as a second place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017.