Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Jan. 23, 2014 . . . BMW Team RLL brings a power-packed driver lineup to the 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona to pilot the two BMW Z4 GTLM racing machines.
Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, Maxime Martin and Andy Priaulx will share the black No. 55 car. John Edwards, Dirk Müller, Graham Rahal and Dirk Werner will co-drive the white No. 56 machine. Among them Auberlen has two class wins (1997 GT3, 1998 GT3) and Müller one (1998 GT1) while Hand and Rahal co-drove to the 2011 overall victory in a BMW-powered Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Riley Daytona Prototype. Team leader Bobby Rahal won the twice-around-the-clock classic as a driver in 1981.
The 52nd annual Rolex 24 at Daytona starts at 2:10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25th with FOX Sports 1 covering the first two hours of the race live. A total of 15 hours of the race will be broadcast on FOX Sports channels.
Jens Marquardt, Director, BMW Motorsport – “BMW Team RLL and our team in Munich have been working intensely towards the start of the new United SportsCar Championship for months. The 24 Hours of Daytona is now just around the corner. We should be well prepared with both our BMW Z4 GTLM. However, we are also well aware that a 24-hour marathon like the one at the Daytona International Speedway is a law unto itself, and that both man and machine will be pushed to the limit. It is precisely this challenge right at the start of the season that makes the race so attractive. After all, the conditions are the same for everyone. The race in Daytona marks the beginning of a new era for motor racing in America – and we are delighted to be a part of it from the outset.”
Bobby Rahal, Team Principal – “I think the Rolex 24 at Daytona is going to be a very tough race. The GTLM category is a very, very competitive category. It’s going to be a very tough class to win. I’m going into it being pretty realistic. Twenty-four hours is a long, long time and as we’ve seen over the years the race win doesn’t always go to the swiftest. It’s a real endurance test.”
Bill Auberlen, driver, No. 55 Z4 GTLM– “This is certainly an important time for sports car racing in North America and I’m proud to be part of it. I don’t believe BMW has ever come to the Rolex 24 with a better driver lineup. Part of my preparation was to run a 24-hour race in Dubai just two weeks ago. I’m at my “fighting weight” and feel completely prepared.”
Joey Hand, driver, No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “For me it’s always exciting to start the season with Daytona. I think the biggest thing this year will be staying clean the whole race. From the driving standpoint you will always have in your head to watch out and make very good decisions. This race will be much more mental than physical from the driver’s seat -especially in a GTLM car where we will be passing half the field and being passed by the other half. There will be no time to rest.”
Maxime Martin, driver, No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “I’m really looking to come back to Daytona. It will be my second time and I hope we will have more success than last year. A 24-hour race is always long and difficult so I did a special preparation to be 120% ready for the race. I’m really happy to have Bill, Joey and Andy as teammates. They have a lot of experience and I think it can be the key for the race.”
Andy Priaulx, driver, No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “I’m very much looking forward to starting my season this weekend at Daytona 24 and the new championship campaign. I think the race will be very challenging, with lots of traffic and lots of overtaking. Concentration will be the key, zero mistakes and being there at the end. I think it’s fair to say that this track won’t ideally suit our package with the long straights and nature of the circuit this will be a challenge for us. But we have a great team, a great driver line up and a very reliable car so I’m staying very optimistic and looking forward to this weekend very much!!”
John Edwards, driver, No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “I’m excited to finally get back to racing! It feels like it’s been a long time since Petit back in October, so I’m ready to get back to competing. 24 hour races are always difficult, but this year’s Rolex 24 will be especially hairy since we’ll see a high number of cars and a lot of different cars running at different speeds, which will make traffic a bigger deal than it, has been in the past. That will especially be true at night when it is difficult to know what kind of car is behind the lights that you see in your mirror. Combine that with the fact that the night lasts a long time in Daytona in January, and it makes for some difficult stints, especially around 4am. However, I’m excited about our lineup and I know that I can trust my teammates. Anything can happen in 24 hours, so we’ll see where we stand Sunday afternoon.”
Dirk Müller, driver, No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “I am very excited about the new championship that starts this weekend in Daytona. In the past it was just the 24-hour race for me, but now it’s the start of the new season. We have a very strong line up, a good team and a great car. We are all very motivated and hungry for the big success.”
Graham Rahal, driver, No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “I’m looking forward to the Rolex 24 at Daytona. I won with BMW in 2011 so, as a past champion, it’s pretty cool for me to go back and be in a BMW again. We’re going to have our work cut out for us — there is no doubt about that – we are lacking a little bit of straight line speed but everyone is going to work very hard. I know the team is going to give us a good strategy like they always do and I think we will be in a good place twenty-four hours later. The goal of this race is to stay clean for 23 of those hours and then go race that last hour. I’m excited; it’s a good opportunity for me. I hope this is the first race of many to come that I can do with BMW the rest of my career.”
Dirk Werner, driver, No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “Already last year I was hoping to be part of the BMW-lineup for this year’s Daytona 24h race. It will be my sixth time and I hope I can finally carry home that watch. With the BMW team RLL preparing and operating the Z4 GTLM we have a very good chance to win. I am ready to go and in full 24-hour mode since I was part of the BMW Team Schubert 24h effort in Dubai two weeks ago.”