Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – June 24, 2014 . . . BMW Team RLL will contest its first race at the classic Watkins Glen International circuit this weekend at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen in Round 5 of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The series restarts following a seven-week break for teams competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. BMW Team RLL drivers Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx currently lead the GTLM driver points and their No. 55 BMW Z4 GTLM leads the team points standings. John Edwards and Dirk Müller, drivers of the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTLM, stand sixth in driver points and eighth in team points. BMW stands second in GTLM Manufacturer points, only two points behind Porsche.
In preparation for the race, the team held a two-day test at the 3.37-mile, 11-turn road course on May 21-22 with drivers Auberlen, Müller and Priaulx present. Completing a total of 207 laps, the critical test gave both Müller and Priaulx their first laps of the circuit that was home of the US Grand Prix from 1961 to 1980. John Edwards did not test, having gained experience at the Glen in recent Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition.
In past years, BMW teams have had success at Watkins Glen and the six-hour race. Most recently Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates raced to the overall win in 2010 with the No. 01 BMW Riley and, in 2004, Bill Auberlen and Boris Said took the GT win in a BMW Team PTG M3. Seventeen years earlier, in 1987, the first-generation BMW M3 (E30) scored a 1-2 finish in the IMSA Firestone Firehawk Endurance Championship Watkins Glen Six Hours. Bobby Rahal, Team Principal, drove his very first Formula One race at WGI in 1978, finishing 12th. He also drove to two top-five finishes in International Race of Champions (IROC) in 1986-1988.
“It’s exciting to be back at Watkins Glen which is certainly one of the crown jewels of racing circuits in this country,” said, Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “It’s the first race for BMW Team RLL at Watkins Glen and we’re looking forward to it. We tested there recently although the weather didn’t totally cooperate. There are a lot of high speed corners, which we’re pleased about and there is a long straightaway, which we’re not so pleased about but just to be back at Watkins Glen is important for BMW, our team and sports car racing. It’s going to be a tough race for sure but it’s such a great circuit. A great-handling car can definitely make a difference there so I’m hopeful we can take advantage of our strengths.”
Bill Auberlen, driver, No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “This has been one of those amazing years and they are very hard to come by. We have managed to be on the podium all but once in the most competitive racing series around and it’s all due to the incredible BMW Z4, Team RLL and Andy Priaulx. With some luck we can extend our championship lead coming out of Watkins Glen, which is one of the most incredible tracks in the world. It’s going to be a grueling six-hour fight to victory lane and we are more than prepared to get it done. I’m really looking forward Watkins Glen and giving it our all.”
Andy Priaulx, driver, No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “I’m very much looking forward to getting back to the Glen after what was a great test a few weeks ago and crucially an ideal opportunity for me to learn this very challenging circuit. I would say that The Glen should suit our car; it’s a circuit that requires a good balance in order to fully commit to the high speed corners. This is where the Z4 is strong. Again, like all the races so far the year, we need to keep our head and score points and keep building our championship campaign. It’s going to be a long race with many cars on track and staying out of trouble will be crucial.”
John Edwards, driver, No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “Watkins Glen is one of my favorite tracks in the country, and I’m really excited to be going there this year with the Z4 GTLM. The car has quite a bit more down force than anything else I’ve driven at Watkins Glen so it should be an intense race. The Z4’s strength also lies in carrying momentum, so it is a good thing that there aren’t any slow corners leading on to long straights here. Dirk and I have had some bad luck in a couple races this season which has put us behind in points, so we’re ready to rebound and win some races the rest of this year, hopefully starting this weekend.”
Dirk Müller, driver, No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “I’m looking forward to a great weekend with a big six-hour race. Watkins Glen is an incredibly quick and challenging circuit. We’ve had enough time to get ready after our break and all the batteries are charged and ready to go!”
The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen will take the green flag at 11:15 a.m. ET Sunday, June 29th. The race will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 with coverage beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.