BMW Team RLL put in a strong performance in today’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway, finishing 3rd and 4th in the headlining GTLM class.
John Edwards and Dirk Müller raced to a second-consecutive podium with a third place finish in the No. 56 BMW Z4. They completed 82 laps of the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIR circuit in the 2.75-hour contest, finishing only .764 seconds behind the winning Ferrari. The result moves Edwards and Müller into a tie for third place in GTLM driver standings with their BMW Team RLL teammates. Müller took the green flag from the fourth starting position and ran as high as third, before pitting to hand off to Edwards on Lap 29. Edwards moved up as high as second, ultimately finishing third to secure the duo’s third podium finish of the season.
The No. 55 BMW Z4 of Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx finished fourth. The car was started by Priaulx from the second qualifying position. He held that spot for the opening hour before pitting to hand off to Auberlen on lap 28. Auberlen battled a vibration from the left rear of the car during the closing stages of the race, but was able to hold onto a fourth place finish.
Separately, in the GTD class, the Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GTD, driven by Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala, raced to the team’s fourth victory of the season (Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, Road America, and VIR).
“We put in an excellent effort,” said Gordon McDonnell, BMWNA Motorsport Manager. “It is unfortunate we missed out on the top step of the podium, but I think we can be proud of third and fourth and good championship points.”
“We were playing the odds there with the yellows,” said Jay O’Connell, RLL VP Technology. “If the race hadn’t gone yellow at the end, the No. 17 Porsche was going to have to pit for fuel and we would have earned a double-podium. But as the yellow came out, ironically for another Porsche, the No. 17 was able to extend, and we ended up P3 and P4. I think both BMW cars did well to earn some good points by avoiding mistakes, and we are happy with that.”
John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (3rd) – “That was a great points day and we have moved up to tie third in the championship. Unfortunately, the Falken Porsche was able to make it at the end on fuel thanks to that last yellow. We were counting on them running out and it staying green.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (3rd) – “I am thrilled with the result – many thanks to the team. We were focused from qualifying onwards so we had no qualifying set-up, just the race one. As could be seen today my car was a rocket and I was able to save fuel. It paid off as I was able to stay out longer and gain positions. Well done to John. Now we are tied for third in driver points. We could have gambled on the strategy like some others, but we didn’t do that as normally it would stay green, but then there was a yellow. It is a podium, our second consecutive one, and I am happy about that. There are still two races to go and we are fighting hard.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (4th) – “We qualified on the front row and have been fairly quick all weekend. We are as good as the competition in the corners, but they just drive away on the straights. It was a frustrating day at the races.”
Andy Priaulx, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (4th) – “The team did really well with the strategy, but it is difficult to know when the next yellow is going to come. You have to be able to look into the future. I was really delighted with my stint. I came in from P2 and was in touch with the leaders. We were a little bit unlucky with a couple of calls. Overall, we did the maximum and I think it is a great result for BMW.”
Round Ten of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the Lone Star Le Mans, will take place at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, TX, on Saturday, September 20th. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.imsa.com.