Petit Le Mans Preview – BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team

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JOY Never Says Never.

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Sept. 27, 2010…. The BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team has arrived in Braselton, Georgia to attack the 2010 Petit Le Mans season finale with one mantra: “JOY NEVER SAYS NEVER.” A season of hard-fought ALMS GT competition has come down to one race – the grueling 1000-mile / 10-hours race on Oct. 2 at Road Atlanta – to decide the GT Manufacturer’s title, which BMW currently trails by a single point.

After one win (Road America) and scoring at least one podium in every race thus far, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3 GT has taken BMW (with 138 points) to within one point of Porsche (139 points) and nine in front of Ferrari (129 points) in the GT Manufacturer’s Championship battle. For these three teams, the 13th annual Petit Le Mans will be a 10-hour, winner-take-all showdown.

As they did at the season-opener 12 Hours of Sebring, BMW Motorsport drivers Andy Priaulx and Dirk Werner will join the team. Priaulx will team up with Joey Hand and Dirk Müller in the No. 90 M3 GT. Werner will co-drive with Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner in the No. 92 M3 GT. They joined Hand and Milner at the pre-Petit testing on Sept. 25 and 26. Priaulx drove with Auberlen and Hand in the No. 90 M3 GT in last year’s Petit Le Mans, ultimately finishing 12th after being slowed by a punctured radiator.

With so much on the line, the team has made special preparations for Petit. Fast and mistake-free pit stops having played such a role in the team’s success this season that all of the pit equipment has been checked, refreshed and renewed for up to a dozen stops each M3 may make during the race. Multiple sets of new quick-change front bodywork have been prepared to speed the repair of damage that may occur. The front ends also now house new larger cornering lights for improved night vision.

Following a test session Wednesday afternoon, official practice begins on Thursday with night practice that evening. Live Qualifying is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1.  The race will be televised live on SPEED beginning at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.

Team Statements.

Martin Birkmann, BMW of North America Motorsport Manager: “We are excited about the Petit Le Mans – the signature race of the series. The last two races were tasking on our cars and drivers, but we have used the time post-Mosport to fix them up and have conducted very promising tests. This nail-biter of a GT Manufacturer’s Championship has come down to the wire and we will make every effort to drive it home for BMW. Whoever is finally crowned on Saturday night will be a deserving champion.”

Bobby Rahal, Team Principal: “In just the second year of our partnership with BMW, here we are at the end of the season with a legitimate opportunity to win the team and Manufacturer’s Championship, and this is what we have been shooting for since the first day we tested the M3. I know the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team will be prepared, the cars will be strong, the drivers will be ready and we are looking forward to a good weekend at Road Atlanta.”

Bill Auberlen, Driver, No. 92 M3 GT: “This has been the most competitive year I can remember.  BMW has been on the podium in every race this season and it proves how far we have come in a very short period.  We have led the Manufacturer’s and Team championships for most of the year and now we are just one point back.  Everything rides on this race.  We tested at Road Atlanta earlier this year with success.  We are prepared!  We have a great car with an amazing team, and a powerful driver lineup.  Now all that’s left is to take home the biggest trophy.”

Tommy Milner, Driver, No. 92 M3 GT: “With one race to go, we’re only one point out of the Manufacturer’s Championship, and Petit Le Mans is where it will all be decided. Anything can happen in an endurance race, but with our combination of cars, team, drivers, and tires we have to be one of the favorites. It’s going to be at least nine hours of flat out racing and the ones who make the least mistakes will be out front. I’m up for the challenge as I’m sure the rest of the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team is. Road Atlanta is one of those tracks where every lap is exciting whether you are by yourself or racing on the last lap and I hope to see the No. 92 M3 GT out front at the checkers.”

Dirk Werner, Driver, No. 92 M3 GT: “I’m very happy to be with the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team for the Petit Le Mans. My first race with the team in Sebring was a great experience and success. Knowing how strong the BMW M3 GT ran all season long, I’m highly motivated for this race. I’ll give my best to support BMW, the team, and the drivers to reach their goals and win the GT Manufacturer’s Championship.”

Joey Hand, Driver, No. 90 M3 GT: “This year I feel the best about our chances to do really well.  We had a shot last year, but it was a much longer shot. We had a great test at Road Atlanta earlier this year. Afterwards, I told the crew, this is the exact set-up we take to Petit Le Mans. Dirk and Andy and I work well together. The team has worked hard on reliability, a key for an endurance race. We might be out of Driver’s Championship, but we aren’t out of the Manufacturer’s Championship.  I am focused on winning this race.”

Dirk Müller, Driver, No. 90 M3 GT: “After an extremely disappointing race in Mosport, I am ready for Road Atlanta. There will be a lot more cars than usual, meaning the competition level is getting even higher. I am looking forward to a great season finale and we as a team are all working hard to get a second win and to get the crown for the Manufacturer’s and Team Championship. Right now we are second and only a point behind. We had an excellent test here in Atlanta and now I am thrilled to get in and race our BMW M3 machine!”

Andy Priaulx, Driver, No. 90 M3 GT: “It’s great to be back at Petit Le Mans. It was so disappointing last year not to finish the race due to the adverse weather, but I hope this year we can not only finish, but finish with a great performance.”

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 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 centers, 336 BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 143 BMW motorcycle retailers, 100 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.