Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – May 8, 2012…
Despite sweeping the American Le Mans Series GT class championships in
2011 and the Manufacturer and Team titles in 2010, one important
victory has thus far eluded BMW Team RLL. In both seasons Joey Hand
and Dirk Müller have finished in the runner-up spot, but never on
the top step of the Laguna Seca Raceway podium. BMW Team RLL is
hoping to change that for 2012.
BMW has shared a significant history with the classic 2.238-mile,
11-turn road course beginning with a win by Hans Joachim Stuck and
Dieter Quester in a BMW CSL in 1975. Nothing would please the Bobby
Rahal-led team as much as adding one more Laguna Seca victory during
BMW Motorsport’s 40th anniversary year.
The six-hour American Le Mans Monterey race will be held on May 12th,
returning to the third round of the series, as it was in 2010, rather
than being the penultimate round of the championship last year. The
team arrives tied for the lead in Manufacturer point standings. Hand
and Müller sit atop the Driver points after a win at the
season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring and a second place finish four
weeks ago at Long Beach.
Teammates Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller finished fourth in
the ALMS class at Sebring, but an early race collision at Long Beach
knocked them out of a points-paying finish. Both BMW veterans know the
way to victory lane at Laguna Seca having both won in significant BMW
racing machines of previous years. In 1998, Auberlen co-drove with
Didier de Radigues to the first BMW-powered prototype win at Laguna
Seca proving the engine package that would power BMW to the 1999 Le
Mans victory. Müller shared a GT win with JJ Lehto at Laguna Seca
in 2001 in the BMW M3 GTR on his way the that season’s driving title.
“The last two years we were in a position to win the race but
we failed to do so, so I’m hopeful that the third time is the
charm,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal.
“The track has suited the car and we are hoping for a great
result. Personally, and as a team, whether it be with BMW Team
RLL or with the Indy car team, we have had a lot of success
at Laguna Seca so we are hopeful that the tradition continues.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “Our
team was first and second with just minutes remaining in last
year’s race when we had a mechanical problem and the other M3 GT
fell back. Those days are over and we intend fully on completing
what we missed out on last year. The RLL team has been and the
Dunlop tires are even better so I am very positive about our potential.”
Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “My first
time at Laguna Seca was 1998 in the GT1 World Championship
in the Porsche GT1 and my last time was in 2001 in the BMW GTR.
That was a few years ago, but Laguna Seca is a track you never forget
with its famous Corkscrew chicane. I'm really looking forward for this
ace because the points we have in the championship at the moment do
not show the pace and the performance of No. 55 M3 GT.”
Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “Laguna
Seca always gives the fans some of the best racing of the season. The
circuit is especially suited to the strengths of the BMW M3 GT and our
Dunlop tires so we have always been in the hunt. We’ve come
close to the win in the previous two years, but just have not closed
the deal. With a bit of luck we will get the win this year.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – "I am
really up for the race in Laguna Seca. The season has started
brilliantly for me with the win in Sebring and second place in Long
Beach. I have also finished on the podium at all my outings so far in
the VLN Endurance Championship on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife.
Long may this run continue. In 2010 and 2011 we finished runner-up to
secure the title in Laguna Seca. As this year's event comes earlier in
the calendar, we can take a more aggressive approach. I am really
looking forward to it."
The six-hour American Le Mans Monterey race is the third round
of the 2012 ALMS championship. The race will take the green flag at
1:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 12. ESPN2 will air the race at 5 p.m. ET
on Sunday, May 13. Live coverage is available starting at 4:15 p.m. ET
The Series’ website offers additional content such as live
in-car cameras, and timing and scoring for all users around the world.
Viewers outside the U.S. can watch all ALMS races live on ALMS.com.
About BMW Team RLL:
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 Sports Activity
Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the
U.S. through networks of 338 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity
Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 113 MINI passenger car
dealers, and 32 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, Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan and
CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, has been competing for nearly two
decades, compiling 22 victories, 31 poles and two series championships
(1992, 2010) as well as claiming 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. In 2010 the
team won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT
category. In 2011 the team swept all three GT titles - Manufacturer,
Team and Driver.
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