After starting at the rear of the entire 41-car field in today’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, the two BMW Team RLL M6 racing cars finished in the third and eighth positions in the GTLM class. John Edwards and Lucas Luhr, driving the No. 100 M6 GTLM, had a strong day to finish third, scoring the duo’s first podium of the season and the 60th podium finish for BMW Team RLL since 2009. Teammates Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, driving the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM, finished eighth. Both cars completed 70 laps of the 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America circuit in the two-hour-and-forty-minute race. The GTLM class win went to the No. 4 Corvette.
Because of the engine regulation infractions during yesterday’s qualifying session each of the car’s time was ultimately disallowed by IMSA and Luhr, starting the No. 100 M6, and Auberlen, starting the No. 25 M6, took the green flag from the tail end of the field – positions 40 and 41. By the fifth lap they had passed the GTD class leader with Auberlen in front of Luhr, 21 seconds behind the GTLM class leader. The first caution period of the race came just before the 14-minute mark and allowed Auberlen and Luhr to make up the remaining distance to the class leaders. At the 30-minute mark, it was Auberlen in seventh and Luhr in eighth – both only some four seconds separating them from the leader. Green flag pit stops began with almost one hour complete. Luhr was in on lap 23 to hand off to Edwards. Auberlen pitted two laps later and, after a fast stop for fuel and new Michelin tires, Werner was out in the No. 25 M6.
At the mid-point of the race Edwards was sixth and Werner was eighth, both cars with 33 laps complete. Edwards, with a 2:03.644 minute lap (four-thousandths of a second slower than the fastest GTLM race lap), moved into fifth on lap 37. One lap later, under green, Werner pitted for fuel and tires – the team making an educated gamble on an alternative strategy he could make the remaining 67 minutes of the race without pitting again – something the rest of the GLTM class would have to do – as long as the hoped for next caution would allow Werner to make up the track position lost. Unfortunately, the gamble did not pay off with the second caution coming too late.
Edwards moved forward, passing for fourth place on lap 45. Werner continued in eighth as Edwards pitted on lap 47 for fuel and tires. The third and final caution period of the race occurred with only 13 minutes remaining. The green flag waved with 5.05 minutes to go setting up a wild finish. In the final two laps both the No. 911 Porsche and the No. 62 Ferrari lost their places to allow a charging Edwards to gain third and the first podium finish of the year for the No. 100 M6.
“I think we have to feel pretty happy, given where we started,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “It was a trouble-free race for us and we were able to take advantage of some mistakes by others. In general I am pleased, but when you are that close to the lead it is frustrating. I am pleased after the disaster at Lime Rock we have recovered and all credit for the team for changing the cars so quickly. So now on to the next one at VIR.”
John Edwards, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (3rd): “It is not fair to say we haven’t had pace throughout the year, but we have had a ton of back luck. We had a pretty good fight going on with a couple of cars and the way the race was unfolding towards the end I thought we had shuffled back a bit, but the last yellow bunched everybody up. It was a bit of chaos but we came out the other side with a podium. It was really nice racing with Tommy (Milner), as we had some good clean racing. I really enjoyed this race and it is great to get some champagne again.”
Lucas Luhr, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (3rd): “Finally we have a good result, even if it was a little bit lucky at the end. But over the weekend we have been on pace and had performance, apart from in qualifying. I think finally now the monkey is now off our back. For everybody in the 100 crew this is great, as we were getting frustrated. For all of us today was the day.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (8th): “Congratulations to the 100 car. They did an excellent job. It was one of those weekends when we were on the back foot from the moment we got here, and we never quite got our stride. Every little thing that could go the wrong way did, but this team never quits.”
Dirk Werner, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (8th): “It was a tough day for Bill and me. We didn’t have a good start to the weekend and this kind of went through to the end of the race. There was a situation where we tried something and was hoping for some luck when we pitted early, but it didn’t work out . For sure this weekend was very difficult, but it was good for the team to get a podium with the 100 car.”
Round Nine of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR, will be held at Virginia International Raceway, in Alton, Va., on Sunday, Aug. 28. The race will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.