Munich (DE), 2nd July 2013 – The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) re-starts its 2013 season at Lime Rock Park (US) on 6th July after an eight week hiatus for teams competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours (FR).
The Western Connecticut circuit BMW of North America calls home has been the site of many important races and wins for the brand, and the two BMW Z4 GTE racing cars will roll out of the BMW Team RLL transporters for this weekend’s race ready to address some unfinished business from one year ago.
Last season, the Lime Rock Park event marked Bill Auberlen’s (US) 100th ALMS start and the BMW ace put the no. 55 BMW M3 GT on the class pole ready to continue the team’s unbroken record of podium finishes at Lime Rock Park. Unfortunately, a mechanical problem forced Auberlen to start from the pit lane, and further bad luck for both cars ended the team’s podium streak.
The team recently completed two days of testing at Road Atlanta (US), site of the season-ending Petit Le Mans, to test the latest updates and add more data on the Michelin tyres that are new to the team this season. BMW currently stands second in the manufacturer rankings, seven points behind Chevrolet.
Currently, Dirk Müller (DE) leads the driver points by a narrow three-point margin following a seventh at Sebring (US) co-driving with Joey Hand (US) and John Edwards (US), a second with Hand at Long Beach (US) and a third with Edwards at Laguna Seca (US). Edwards will co-drive with Dirk Müller in the no. 56 car for a second consecutive race as Hand prepares for the DTM event at the Norisring (DE) on 14th July.
Auberlen and Maxime Martin (BE) scored the first victory for the BMW Z4 GTE at Long Beach in the no. 55 car, but a broken differential at the next round at Laguna Seca saw them finish out of the points. They finished fourth along with Jörg Müller (DE) at Sebring and are fourth in the driver points, eight points behind Müller. Martin travels to Lime Rock Park with a victory in the Blancpain Endurance Series at Le Castellet (FR) from last weekend under his belt, driving a Marc VDS Racing BMW Z4 GT3.
American Le Mans Series 2013, Round 3, Laguna Seca, Monterey, CA (USA). American Le Mans Monterey. Dirk Müller (DEU), John Edwards (USA), No 56, BMW Team RLL, BMW Z4 GTE
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal of BMW Team RLL): “We’re looking forward to Lime Rock, because I think of all the circuits we will race on this year in our current spec this track probably suits us best because it’s really a handling circuit. We continue to operate at a real top-speed deficit to Porsche, Corvette, Ferrari and the Aston, but Lime Rock is mostly corners. Yes it has a fairly long straight, but it’s got a very fast corner at the bottom that leads onto it that’s not easy, so I think a good handling car can have a stronger performance relative to other circuits. Having won there before in 2011 and having qualified well there over the years, I think Lime Rock can be a good circuit for us. Of course, the other manufacturers have been working hard; the Viper has really shown a lot of speed lately. I think the race is going to be a real challenge. I think what makes us competitive frankly is the braking and handling of the car, and at Lime Rock that is pretty much what it is all about.”
Bill Auberlen (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55): “I have some unfinished business at Lime Rock Park. I qualified on the pole, but a problem with the fuel cell had me start from the pit lane. We should have been on the podium last year, and I’m aiming to be back on it this year.”
Maxime Martin (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55): “I’m looking forward to racing in the US again after this long break. Lime Rock Park is a new track for me, but I’m sure Bill will show me all the tricks to be quick. I think the race strategy will be critical due to the short length of the track.”
Dirk Müller (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56): “After the long Le Mans break I am really thrilled to get back to the ALMS season. Leading the championship is nice, but there is still a long way to go and the competition is really strong. We were able to recharge our batteries as we were able to analyse a lot of data from our new BMW Z4 GTE to improve the whole package. Lime Rock Park is our BMW home track and I am expecting another great race there.”
John Edwards (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56): “It’s been a long break since the last ALMS race at Laguna, so I’m getting antsy to get back in the BMW Z4 GTE. Dirk is now leading the driver’s championship, and I stood on an ALMS podium for the first time at Laguna Seca, so I hope we can keep the momentum headed into Lime Rock. Since Lime Rock is a flowing track with short straights, I think it should suit our car well. I expect us to be faster this weekend than we will be at some other events, so it will be important to capitalise on that and hopefully move BMW to the top of the manufacturer’s championship standings.”