In the most competitive race of the season Dirk Mϋller and Tommy Milner drove the No. 92 BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3 to a third place finish today at the Acura Sports Car Challenge. The duo completed 107 laps in the two-hour-and-forty-five-minute race held at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course with Mϋller racing to the podium after a thrilling pass in the closing laps of the race.
Teammates Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand finished eighth after a collision by a prototype car cost them one lap early in the race. Hand set the GT2 class fastest race lap, the first for the team this season.
Almost immediately following the wave of the green flag an early caution slowed the field for the opening 22 minutes of the race. The race began in earnest after the restart with Tommy Milner holding the fourth position in the No. 92 M3. He passed for third on lap 14 as a light rain began to fall, but fell back to fourth as a fierce battle began between positions three through six.
Bill Auberlen started the No. 90 M3 from the rear of the grid following a decision by the team to change tires before the start. The crew elected to pit him for fuel just before the restart so the Californian began the race off pit sequence to the rest of the GT2 class. Just after moving into eighth on lap 19 he was hit by a P1 class car and was forced to the pits for new tires, ultimately losing a lap.
At the one hour mark, Milner had consolidated his hold on fourth, having completed 35 laps. He pitted on lap 50, handing the No. 92 M3 to Dirk Mϋller. Setting some of the quickest GT2 lap time of the race, Auberlen moved up to sixth as the balance of the GT2 field made their first pit stops. With one hour and thirty-five minutes complete, Auberlen pitted the No. 90 M3. Hand quickly got into the race, setting the fastest GT2 lap (1:21.969) on lap 67.
The race settled in for some 40 minutes, but a late race charge by Mϋller had him within feet of third place in the final minutes. He made a great move under braking in turn one with five laps to go to bring home the team’s fourth podium finish of the season. Hand finished eighth.
Bobby Rahal, Team Principal:
“Dirk and Tommy did a great job in the No. 92 M3. We had to gamble a little bit with that last stop. We left the tires on eight laps longer than before and they hung in there. Dirk was able to run down Beretta for third, which was great to see. It’s unfortunate that Bill got hit, but yet the performance of the car was excellent after that. A good day for our team.”
Martin Birkmann, BMW of North America Motorsport Manager:
“For the second consecutive time we saw a very exciting race. Today provided lots of entertainment for the spectators. That’s what they want and expect and we are happy to provide our part of it. The podium was represented by three different makes and the new colors certainly spice things up.”
Dirk Mϋller, No 92 M3 (third)
“I am really happy for everybody to finish third. It was tough, but we fought a good fight. I tried to stay in the pack and push. The team strategy worked well. We didn’t change tires; Dunlop gave me brilliant tires that lasted. Olivier (Beretta) was really quick on the straights, but I pressured him and pressured him and got him under braking in the last corner. I am really loving it.”
Tommy Milner, No. 93 M3 (third):
“I had a good battle with our competition from Maranello for third, and I knew I was faster before the pass. The tires were regaining strength toward the end of the stint, so I just kept my driving clean and tried to position the car to give Dirk the best possible start to his stint. Dirk did a great job pushing to the end to secure the team’s fourth podium this season.”
Bill Auberlen, No. 90 M3 (eighth):
“We had a super fast car all weekend. The guys do a phenomenal job. In the race I was catching people then I got knocked out. Joey and I can’t wait to go to Road America and turn this thing around.”
Round 7 of the American Le Mans Series will be held at Road America on August 16th.