The No. 96 IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GT3 of Bret Curtis and Jens Klingmann clinched their second win of the 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the Lone Star Le Mans at the Circuit of the Americas Saturday afternoon.
The duo charged from Curtis’s eighth place qualifying position with a series of flawless pit stops and strategy, combined with two perfect stints by both Curtis and Klingmann who were battling extremely hot and humid conditions.
Curtis kicked off the two-hour and forty-minute race behind the wheel of the blue and yellow BMW with a clean and consistent run starting from eighth. Curtis was able to work his way up to second place before handing the No. 96 M6 GT3 over to co-driver Jens Klingmann just before the fifty minute mark.
Klingmann quickly settled into a swift pace with primary focus on tire management, working his way forward to pick off several positions in his charge up into the top-five of the GTD field.
“We had a really tough race at VIR a few weeks ago with high hopes of having a good result. Curtis said. “I didn’t think we had the car to win today going into the race, but when we got in the car it was really strong and I was just hanging in there in the fast corners. I knew if I brought the car home clean and gave the car over to my co-driver, he’d have a shot of bringing it home and he really did. He made some moves and did a great job.”
With just one hour remaining, Klingmann entered pit lane for the final pit stop for four tires and fuel allowing him to hold his top five position and charge forward into the top three.
“I got into the car after Bret (Curtis) and didn’t really know what to expect. “The track conditions were very challenging for us all weekend,” added Klingmann. “Since Bret had such a good stint, I knew we could be competitive, so I did everything I could to stay out in front of the pole sitting Porsche. My goal way to stay out in front of him while managing the tires and hopefully work my way to the front.”
The win at Circuit of the Americas marks the second win for the driver duo and the second win for the M6 GT3 in North America. The win also marks the fourth consecutive year with the Turner blue and yellow on the podium here in Austin, Texas.
The team’s inaugural appearance on the 20-turn 3.427 mile grand prix circuit in 2013 produced two class wins in one day campaigning the BMW M3 GT and GS racecars.
“Following our qualifying results, I wasn’t really sure we had a car competitive enough to win here at Circuit of the Americas, making this win even better,” said Will Turner. “The team did an awesome job setting the car up for tire management over the long run, so I think we were able to stay consistent the entire race and work our way up into the front with two fantastic stints by both Bret (Curtis) and Jens (Klingmann).”
Despite a very strong start by Michael Marsal behind the wheel of the No. 97 M6 GT3 driving his way from eleventh to fourth in the opening hour, contact caused by an over exuberant No. 27 Lamborghini spun the No. 97 of Marsal sending him back seven positions.
Marsal completed an impressive double stint in the sweltering heat before handing the car over to co-driver Markus Palttala who, despite quick pace, was forced into the pit lane with a mechanical issue stemming from the earlier contact by the No. 27 Lamborghini ultimately preventing the duo from finishing the race.
With the second win on the season in the books, the focus turns to Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in less than two weeks. The 10-hour endurance test marks the final race in the 2016 WeatherTech Championship schedule. Stay tuned for updated driver line up announcements for the final Endurance race of the 2016 Patron Endurance Cup.