With a focus on consistency BMW Team RLL was able to turn around a difficult weekend at Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas, to score fourth and seventh place GTLM class finishes in today’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Lone Star Le Mans race.
Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, driving the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM, finished fourth. Teammates John Edwards and Lucas Luhr finished seventh in the No. 100 M6. Both cars completed 73 laps of the 3.4-mile, 20-turn circuit during the two-hour-and-forty-minute contest. The race was won by the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber and Fredrick Makowiecki.
With Werner and Edwards starting from the seventh and ninth positions respectively, the race began under very hot and humid conditions. Werner got tangled up with the No. 66 Ford GT of Dirk Müller at the start and was called to the pits to serve a drive-thru penalty. Both BMWs pitted on lap 19 under the race’s first caution for fuel and tires. Auberlen took over for Werner while Edwards remained in the No. 100 machine.
After circulating in the eighth and ninth class positions, Edwards and Auberlen passed the No. 66 Ford GT for seventh and eighth on lap33. Another position was gained for each BMW after a mechanical problem slowed the No. 67 Ford GT later on the same lap.
With one hour remaining in the race Auberlen pitted the No. 25 M6 for fuel and tires on lap 44 and Werner took over to complete the race. Edwards stayed out and cycled to the GTLM class lead as the remainder of the field pitted. The No. 100 entered the pits on lap 48 and Luhr reentered the race in seventh, one position behind his teammate. Lap 59 saw the class leading Ferrari pit with electrical issues, promoting the BMWs to the fifth and sixth positions. As the race continued to heat up, Luhr lost the sixth position to the No. 66 Ford GT on lap 64 while Werner was able to move past the No. 4 Corvette to take the fourth spot two laps later. At the checkered flag it was Werner fourth in the No. 25 M6 and Luhr seventh in the No. 100 M6.
An exciting race saw the No. 96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 score the second GTD class victory of the season for Bret Curtis and Jens Klingmann. In third position coming into the last round of pit stops, quick work by the crew leap-frogged the 96 machine into the lead, ultimately winning by 15.7 seconds over the 14-car class.
“It was a tough race but we were happy to get up to P4,” said Jay O’Connell, RLL VP Technology. “Obviously a good job by car 25 to move up from P7 to P4. Just knocking on the door of the podium and fighting hard with the Corvette at the end. It was a good battle to get ahead of Tommy (Milner) there. The No. 100 tried to pit later to have fresher tires at the end, but still struggled in the heat. We will now go back again and see what we can learn for the next race.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (4th): “I don’t think you are every happy with fourth, but we moved up and we moved up solidly. The team did a great job. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, as we have this new car and it doesn’t always work out how you want it to. But we will always keep our heads up. The one thing I know about BMW is they will never quit.”
Dirk Werner, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (4th): “Another tough race. If you start that far back you are always in the mix at the start and unfortunately I hit a car and got a drive thru, which put us pretty far back. We were lucky with the yellows and caught back up. I think we improved compared to practice and qualifying. It is a good result so I am quite happy with the outcome and in the end it turned out to be a good race for us.”
John Edwards, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (7th): “It was a hard and hot day. We had some issues in qualifying and tried to fix them, but the car still had a lot of understeer today and it was really a difficult car to drive. We need to regroup and look forward to the race in Road Atlanta where we know anything can happen. I have some good memories from last year where we finished second overall.”
Lucas Luhr, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (7th): “It was tough race. We didn’t have any kind of speed over the whole weekend. We did our best, but were unable to really move forward.”
Bret Curtis, driver No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 (1st): “Jens did such a good job. We had an advantage in the high speed turns that just stayed consistent throughout the race and in the low speed turns we just hung on in there the best we could and were fairly even with the other cars. It was so incredibly hot today, but when I passed off the car to Jens I knew we would have a good chance. I knew he would like the car, and he showed me in his first stint by passing six cars in the first six or seven laps. This second win just shows what the team and the M6 are capable of.”
Jens Klingmann, driver No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 (1st): “It was just a perfect day and I am super happy. It was a great car and my first race here in Austin. I felt good and Bret, for whom this is a home race, did a great job with no mistakes. The only big problem was the heat and that my drink bottle didn’t work at all for my last stint, which was about an hour long. But I had the adrenaline by leading, so I tried not to think about it. I think we can perhaps be in the top three in the championship, but we just want to win races for Turner Motorsport and BMW Motorsport.”
The final round of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the 10-hour Petit Le Mans, will be held at Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Ga., on Saturday, Oct. 1. The race will be broadcast live with a blend of coverage on Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and IMSA.tv beginning at 11 a.m. ET. A three-hour recap show will be featured on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.