Eighth Podium In Sixth Race For BMW Rahal Letterman Racing

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BMW tied for championship lead with three races remaining.

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – August 7, 2010… The BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team scored the team’s eighth podium in the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today. Co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner raced the No. 92 M3 GT race car to third, while teammates Joey Hand and Dirk Mϋller (No. 90) placed sixth.

The start of the race saw Hand, from fifth, and Milner, from seventh, mired in the middle of the ultra-competitive GT field. Milner was unable to advance as he waited patiently for tire pressures to accumulate. Hand quickly moved to fourth, but his progress leveled off.

Just before race clocked one hour, the complexion of the race changed for the BMWs.  Seeing another car off-course and anticipating the race’s first caution period, the No. 92 crew immediately called Milner to the pits. Quick work put Bill Auberlen out with new Dunlops and a full tank of fuel, even before the yellow flag waved. As the rest of the field pitted under caution, including BMW teammates in the No. 90 M3 GT, Auberlen appeared at the head of the GT class.

At the half-way point with 57 laps complete, Auberlen held the lead, with Müller, who had replaced Hand during the No. 90’s stop, in fourth. Moving forward, the GT battle became even more dynamic, but unfortunately not in BMW’s favor. On Lap 66, Mϋller had an off-course excursion and was called to pit three laps later for a vehicle inspection and driver change. Hand re-entered on Lap 69 near the tail of the GT class battle and began sawing away at the competitors in front. Meanwhile, Auberlen had a brief off-course in the No. 92 and was also called into the pits.

Fortunately, immediately after Auberlen’s precautionary stop the second full-course caution period occurred and both M3 GTs stayed out, putting Auberlen in first and Hand in second for the re-start. Upon the re-start, a competitor muscled through and assumed the lead. On Lap 88, Hand suffered a collision with a competitor and fell to sixth, but was able to continue relatively unscathed. Auberlen fell to third place on Lap 93, and maintained it to the finish. Hand briefly advanced to fifth with ten minutes remaining but was unable to hold the spot and finished in sixth place.

What they had to say:

Martin Birkmann, BMW of North America Motorsports Manager:
“After our qualifying result, this podium finish is a nice improvement. This weekend we didn’t have the pace to challenge our competitors and we congratulate them. This podium finish for BMW is exclusively attributable to excellent pit strategy and hard work by the crew of the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team, and now we just need to find that top step on the GT podium.”

Bobby Rahal, Team Principal:
“The BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team certainly showed its tenacity on a day where it would have been easy to pack it in and go to the next race. It is results like this one that help win championships and we are right there with three races to go.”

YouTube: Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner discuss BMW’s eighth podium finish of 2010.

The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge began a grueling month of American Le Mans Series competition for the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team. Facing Mid-Ohio, Road America, and Mosport International Raceway, the next four weeks may well determine who wins the ALMS GT championship.

Reaching eight podium finishes for the season, BMW is tied for the Manufacturer Points lead. Co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner (No. 92) are third in Driver Points, while Joey Hand and Dirk Müller (No. 90) are fourth.

Round 7 of the 2010 American Le Mans Series will be held at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on August 22. The race will be televised live on SPEED beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

About BMW Rahal Letterman Racing:
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 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 centers, 336 BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 143 BMW motorcycle retailers, 99 MINI passenger car dealers, and 31 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.

BMW’s partner, Rahal Letterman Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, has been competing for more than a decade compiling 20 victories, 30 poles and one series championship (Bobby Rahal in 1992 in CART) and an Indianapolis 500 championship (Buddy Rice in 2004).  In 2008 Rahal Letterman Racing again won Rookie-of-the-Year honors at the Indianapolis 500 and partnered with Andersen Racing to run two entries in the Indy Pro Series. In 2009 the team joined BMW of North America to campaign the BMW M3 as BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team in the American Le Mans Series.