BMW Team RLL fought back from a day of bad luck to finish fifth and sixth in the GT class at the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. Today’s result was the first time a BMW Team RLL M3 GT did not reach the podium at their home track, but a determined effort kept the team in second place in manufacturer points and very much in contention for a third consecutive GT class title.
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The two BMW M3 GT cars lined up at Lime Rock Park with a black ribbon attached to the right front fender of each car. This is in memory a BMW Motorsport engineer who died suddenly in Munich on Friday night. The thoughts of his BMW Motorsport colleagues are with his family during this difficult time.
Joey Hand and Dirk Müller finished fifth in the No. 56 M3 GT and now stand third in driver points. Hand started the race from the second position and pitted under the race’s first caution period for left side tires and fuel on the 21st lap of the 1.5-mile, 8-turn Lime Rock Park circuit. He returned to the race in P6 and continued until lap 62 when he handed over Dirk Müller after a puncture to his left front tire brought him to the pits. Müller had to make an unplanned pit stop on lap 70 to remove the hood after its mounting loosened and blocked his view. One lap down, he stayed in the car for the remainder of the race, ultimately completing 159 laps and finishing fifth.
Bill Auberlen qualified the No. 55 BMW Team RLL M3 GT on the GT class pole, but unfortunately the BMW ace had to start his 100th ALMS race from the pit lane after a fuel cell issue on the installation lap stalled his best start of the season. He did not wait long to make time setting a new race record of 51.091 seconds on lap nine. He stayed out during the race’s first caution period to regain more track position. Pitting under the green flag on lap 61 he handed off to Jörg Müller. The BMW Motorsport veteran was forced back to the pits 14 laps later with a puncture of the left rear tire at the cost of one lap to the leaders.
Müller remained in the car to the checkered flag, finishing sixth. Auberlen and Müller stand sixth in driver points.
“Today was one tough day,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We had a puncture on the 56 car and a fuel leak and a puncture on the 55 car. It was a long, hard day for us, but we scored points. We will need to finish in front of the Corvettes from here on out and that is going to be tough.”
Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “That was a long two hour and 45 minutes. It always feels like that when it isn’t your day. A puncture to the left front tire and the hood coming loose caused us to make two pit stops under green. Still we powered back for a fifth place finish and really didn’t lose a lot of points to the class leaders. BMW Team RLL never gives up. Bob is always on the radio telling you to just keep pushing.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “I deeply wanted to win this race again in front of Crowne Plaza and BMW crowd, but at the end, finishing P5, we scored a lot of very good points for the championship. It was a tough day today. Twice we fought back and that makes me proud.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “We won practice. We won qualifying. Unfortunately, today was not our day although BMW Team RLL gave Jörg and me a car that was fast and capable of winning. I’ve seen days end worse than this. We can be proud to have taken a car that started one lap down to the field and finish sixth.”
Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “The race didn’t really come to us, but we never stopped trying. We were already one and one half laps behind when we started the race, but I’m happy with the points because normally when you start from that position you are not able to get much of anything.”
Round 5 of the American Le Mans Series, the Grand Prix of Mosport, will be held at the newly renovated Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. The race is scheduled to take the green flag at 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 22. ESPN2 will air the race same-day beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET. Live streaming coverage is available starting at 11:45 a.m. ET on ESPN3.com.
The Series’ website offers additional content such as live in-car cameras, and timing and scoring for all users around the world. Viewers outside the U.S. can watch all ALMS races live on ALMS.com