Dirk Müller (DE) and Tommy Milner (US) celebrated victory with the BMW M3 GT2 in the first round of the Asian Le Mans Series. At the “Okayama International Circuit” the drivers of the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team put in a flawless performance and crossed the line as winners in the GT2 category after 113 laps, relegating Marc Lieb (DE) and Wolf Henzler (DE) in their Porsche 911 RSR to second with a gap of 0.292 seconds.
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Following the victory in the American Le Mans Series race in Road America (US), this is the second win for the new GT sports car, and also the car’s maiden win in Asia. The final phase of the Asian Le Mans Series inaugural event was a thriller. After Müller, who was in the car at the start, had worked his way up from fifth on the grid to second in the early stages of the three-hour race, Milner took over the wheel of the BMW M3 GT2 on lap 52.
The 23-year-old took the lead with a successful overtaking manoeuvre on Henzler on lap 78. In order to save time, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team decided not to change tyres during his second pit stop on lap 103 when Milner remained in the car. The gap which he had kept thanks to this brave strategy diminished lap by lap. Eight minutes before the end of the race Lieb, running on fresh tyres, started to put Milner under constant pressure, But the BMW driver successfully defended the lead in a nail-biting finale, committed no mistakes and ultimately took the chequered flag as winner.
The second round of the Asian Le Mans Series will be held on Sunday. The red lights go out at 9:00hrs local time (0:00hrs GMT).
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal): “This is a fantastic result. In qualifying we didn’t achieve the maximum, so it was important that Dirk gained some ground after the start. Our fuel economy and the pace of the car were very good. During our second pit stop we didn’t change our Dunlop tyres. Tommy then drove the race of his life. The Porsche managed to close the gap, but just couldn’t get by. There’s only a little time to celebrate our win as there is a second race to contest tomorrow. Up to now Japan has proved excellent ground for us.”
Tommy Milner: “This was a tough race. As we didn’t change tyres during the pit stop I knew it would be a close finish. Marc Lieb put me under pressure, and I had to fend off his first attacks in order to keep my chances alive. I managed to do that. Finally I scored my first win. In the ALMS I finished on the podium five times, and many times I got close to victory. Now it has happened at last. A big thank you to my team. The guys are once again doing a great job.“
Dirk Müller: “We knew that our package would be competitive. But it’s just great that it was strong enough for the win. After the start I gained several positions. In these close battles my experiences from the World Touring Car Championship are a bonus. I didn’t risk anything when behind the Porsche and patiently waited for my chance. That paid off. Tommy did a perfect job today and wrapped up our victory.”