Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Aug. 14, 2018… While the second half of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship can be exhausting with a race seemingly every other weekend, BMW Team RLL is looking forward to getting back to it at the Aug. 19 Michelin GT Challenge at VIR following a near miss of the podium’s top spot at Road America. Leading for almost the entire last hour of the race, the No. 25 M8 GTE of Connor De Phillippi was stalled by a fuel system issue within minutes of the checkered flag.
Developed on parallel tracks with the BMW M8 GTE, the arrival of the new 2019 BMW 8 Series will occur only four days after the VIR race when the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe and the BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe will make their North American debuts on Aug. 23rd at The Lodge at Pebble Beach.
Last week the team successfully completed a two-day test at Road Atlanta with drivers Connor De Phillippi and John Edwards in preparation for VIR as well as the season-ending Petit Le Mans. The fueling issue that sidelined the No. 25 M8 at Road America has been identified and rectified.
The two-hour-and-forty-minute race at VIR is the second GT class-only race of the season and the entry list shows 18 total entries across the GTLM and GTD classes. Last year, the No. 25 M6 GTLM of Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims controlled the race until a puncture with eight laps remaining dropped the duo to a fourth place finish.
“Our results at VIR over the years have been bittersweet,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We have qualified well, but at times we have had issues during the race. Last year was a particularly unhappy situation for us given that we had the race lead comfortably in hand and then to have a flat tire with a couple of laps to go was very disappointing. At the last race in Elkhart Lake we had a pretty competitive car so we are hopeful that will carry forward at VIR. There is a long straight which is something that could be good for us and it also has fast corners but it’s like all of the races, it will be a tough weekend.”
Connor De Phillippi, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE: “VIR is another fast, flowing circuit like Road America that should suit the BMW M8 GTE well. With the pace we showed in the last race I am looking forward to fighting for a good finish.”
Alexander Sims, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE: “VIR is a track that brings back a lot of memories from last year, both good and bad! We were looking like we would win last year until a late race puncture thwarted our efforts. We know what we need to do to be fast there and I hope we can get the M8 GTE dialed in and working well like the M6 was last year. It’s a really fun circuit and a beautiful setting so I’m really excited for the weekend. We showed much improved pace at Road America last weekend and so I’m optimistic that we can have a strong weekend.”
John Edwards, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE: “VIR is a home race for me being that I live only a few hours away in Davidson, North Carolina. VIR is also one of my favorite circuits. I rank it right up there with Watkins Glen and Road America. We’ve shown great potential in the last few races and it won’t be long till we’re back on the podium.”
Jesse Krohn, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE: “VIR is another fast and flowing track that I like and it should suit our car well. We showed some good potential at Road America but unfortunately had some bad luck that cost us a strong finish. The team has been doing a great job developing the car thru out the season and I am expecting the results to soon start matching the amount of work that has been put in.”
BMW Customer Racing at VIR:
This weekend Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley will team up in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 in the GTD class as the veteran has an increased role supporting BMW of North America’s Customer Racing Program.
In addition to Turner Motorsport in the main event, Saturday’s two-hour Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Biscuitville Grand Prix will see BMW represented by five BMW M4 GT4 cars racing in the Grand Sport class campaigned by BimmerWorld Racing, Classic BMW and Stephen Cameron Racing. In the Street Tuner class, BimmerWorld Racing drivers Devin Jones and Nick Galante are leading the ST driver points following a third victory of the season at Road America in the last round.
The Biscuitville Grand Prix will start at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18 and be broadcast (delayed) on Aug. 26 on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET. The Michelin GT Challenge at VIR will take the green flag at 1:35 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 19. The first hour of the race be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 1 p.m. ET with the final one-hour-and-forty minutes broadcast on FOX Sports 2. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for updates all weekend.
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.
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, 145 BMW motorcycle retailers, 121 MINI passenger car dealers, and 38 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.