The podium at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has become a very familiar place for Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana. The duo captured their second GT class victory of the 2013 season driving the No. 94 GT M3 in the Diamond Cellar Classic Saturday.
This victory comes only hours after the duo finished second in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge driving the No. 96 BMW M3 in the GS class, only .452 seconds behind the leader. These back-to-back podiums come after the Turner Motorsport team struggled with several less than desirable finishes since their double win at Circuit of the Americas back in March.
Dalla Lana started the 2.75-hour race from the sixth starting spot after a strong qualifying session on Friday. Dalla Lana handed the M3 off to Auberlen in perfect shape after gaining one position with a series of full course cautions. Dalla Lana’s perfect opening stint and the Turner crew’s blazing fast pit stop on lap thirty six allowed Auberlen to leap frog into second place.
Twenty eight laps later, Auberlen got around the pole-sitting No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R of Robin Liddell with 58 minutes for the lead. The closing laps saw an intense battle for the lead between Auberlen and the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette of Eric Curran, with Curran turning around Auberlen in the Keyhole with two laps to go. Eric Curran managed to get the checkered flag first in the No. 31 corvette, but was penalized one minute 24 seconds for avoidable contact giving Auberlen and Dalla Lana the win.
“The series did the right thing by straightening it out.” Auberlen Said. “We were faster in the straight and Eric was much quicker in the corner. All lines were off; I just kept taking the inside. If all you have to do it beat someone off the track with one or two laps to go, that’s a lot easier.”
Will Turner commented, “We knew we had a good car but knew it was not the fastest. Strategy was to get out of the pits in front of as many cars as we could and it paid off. Dalla Lana got out of the car after his flawless stint allowing both Bill (Auberlen) and the crew to do what they needed to get the No. 94 BMW to the front. Thank you to the crew and Don Salama for the race winning car and strategy!”
The GT class victory for Auberlen and Dalla Lana makes the duo’s second consecutive GT class victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Auberlen makes this victory his third straight in a blue and yellow BMW M3 at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.
Michael Marsal and co-driver Billy Johnson managed a strong 6th place GT finish in the No. 93 BMW M3. Marsal started off the race in 11th place and was spun by contact from the No. 63 Ferrari before handing the car over to Johnson who managed to come back from a lap down to finish just outside the top five.
In Saturday’s opening race, Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana finished 2nd in the No. 96 BMW M3 in the 2.5-hour Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge contest after starting in 16th position. Paul Dalla Lana starting the race charging forward through the pack before handing the No. 96 BMW M3 over to teammate Bill Auberlen. Auberlen charged to the front of the GS field after with two perfect pit stops by the Turner Motorsport crew. A much needed full course caution with nine minutes remaining allowed Auberlen to conserve enough fuel to finish the race only .452 seconds behind Plumb for second place.
The CTSCC race will be televised on SPEED television on June 23 at 4:00 p.m. ET. The Diamond Cellar Classic rebroadcast can be found on Grand-Am.com. The next Rolex Series race will be Sunday, June 30, at Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, live on SPEED at 11 a.m. ET.
[Photo Credit: Halston Pitman/MotorsportMedia]