BMW Team RLL steps on the podium at the Sebring 12 Hours and takes the lead in the USCC GTLM Drivers classification.
Munich (DE), 16th March 2014. Second race, second podium: BMW Team RLL finished third and tenth in the 62nd edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring (US). The Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM, driven by Bill Auberlen (US), Andy Priaulx (GB) and Joey Hand (US), took the chequered flag in third place. It was the team’s second consecutive GTLM podium of the 2014 United SportsCar Championship (USCC). Auberlen, Priaulx and Hand had finished second at the season-opening 24h Daytona (US). With their third place at the second round at “Sebring International Raceway”, the trio took the lead of the GTLM Drivers classification.
The Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM finished tenth. Driven by Dirk Müller, Dirk Werner (both DE) and John Edwards (US), the car experienced a number of problems during the race and finished nine laps in arrears of the class winning Porsche. The Number 56 car had been pushed into the wall by a competitor. Repairs over the next few hours cost precious time. The race was slowed by more than five hours of caution periods, and the crack BMW Team RLL strategy helped the Number 55 car regain a lost lap, caused by a malfunctioning pit speed limiter just past the midpoint of the race.
Round three of the 2014 USCC will take place in Long Beach (US) on Saturday, 12th April.
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal, BMW Team RLL):
“Today was certainly a tough day for us in many respects. A third place finish by the No. 55 BMW Z4 GTLM and now the points lead is a tremendous achievement given the ups and downs they went though over the course of the race. Unfortunately, the day was ruined quite early for the 56 car. At the end we didn’t have the pace to catch the leaders, but now we head to Long Beach and a circuit much more suited to the strengths of the BMW Z4 GTLM.”
Bill Auberlen (Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“We ran into some of the worst luck I have ever seen. We had a great car, we were up to second place and then we dropped to third place. Then we got a speeding violation coming into the pit lane, and then we got three more back to back before we determined the cause, which put us a lap down. We fought back to the lead lap. Our BMW Z4 GTLM was great. It sustained some damage early on and had a big understeer. We tuned that out and we had something to go racing with and my last stint was very strong.”
Andy Priaulx (Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“My first stint was hardly a stint as I had so many safety cars. We had a bit of contact with a prototype which damaged the bodywork and there was then some understeer in the car. The team did a great job to re-balance the car, which luckily wasn’t badly damaged. My job was to bring the car back in one piece, which I did. There were a couple of crazy re-starts as there were so many cars out there and you were locked in the battle from the moment you got into the car – I have never had it like that before. It is full ten tenths, it is fun and it makes you sharp and I am loving it.”
Joey Hand (Number 55 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“It was an interesting race for sure. We just kept trying to make the car better and better. It wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be, but it all came right and during that last twenty minutes I was thinking, ‘Oh boy, this is turning into another dog fight!’ It wasn’t our race to win today, but the reason why we have won championships in this programme is because we get what we can get, and that is what we did.”
Dirk Müller (Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“This was one of those races which ultimately ended quite early for us. We stayed positive and were hoping that we’d get the laps back with all the caution periods. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Congratulations to the 55 guys!”
Dirk Werner (Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“Unfortunately we had too many incidents today. The hit from a Porsche that turned us in the wall put us back a number of laps and we never really recovered. I hope the rest of the season will be better for Dirk and John.”
John Edwards (Number 56 BMW Z4 GTLM):
“There is not much we could have done today. Things that were not expected to happen ultimately put us in the situation where we were out of contention. It’s really too bad because we had a strong car. We saw the Number 55 finish on the podium and we think we would have been right up there too.”