Third race, third podium: BMW Team RLL raced to a third consecutive podium in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, finishing second and sixth in today’s Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach.
John Edwards and Dirk Müller scored their first podium finish of the season, racing the No. 56 Z4 GTLM to second place. Completing 75 laps around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit, the duo finished 5.408 seconds behind the winning No. 3 Corvette in the 100-minute race. Edwards and Müller ran a flawless race with Edwards starting from third and moving to second on the first lap. A slower prototype car got in between the GTLM leader and Edwards effectively ending his chance to attack. He handed off to Müller on lap 31 and the BMW Motorsport driver had a great battle to hold off the No. 4 Corvette for the remaining hour of the race. Today’s result moves the pair to fourth in the GTLM points standings.
Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx had a disappointing finish to an excellent start, finishing sixth in the No. 55 Z4 GTLM. Priaulx started the race from the second position, dropping behind Edwards on the first lap. The teammates ran nose-to-tail for 40 minutes before Edwards pitted on lap 31. As Priaulx entered the pit lane on lap 32 he nicked the wall and knocked off the right side mirror. Auberlen had to wait an extra 15 seconds for the crew to replace the door, rejoining the race in eighth place. The defending race winner put his head down, passing the No. 62 Ferrari on lap 35 and the No. 91 Viper 16 laps later. The remaining 24 laps were not enough to make up one more position, with Auberlen finishing off the podium for the first race this season in sixth, but with enough points to retain the lead in the driver points standings.
“Second was a good finish for us today,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We got held up in the beginning by one of the prototypes, and that really was the difference. It was unfortunate that Andy just touched the wall when he came in and took the mirror off. By the time they replaced the door they had lost valuable time. I was disappointed for the 55 car, but they scored points and kept the championship lead.”
Gordon McDonnell, BMWNA Motorsport Manager added, “Overall, I believe we can consider this a good weekend for BMW. Fulfilling our objective of leaving Long Beach with the championship lead is important, as well as continuing our streak of podium finishes. Congratulations to Dirk and John and the No. 56 crew.”
John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “This is my first podium of the year and my first podium at Long Beach. It was a really hard fight, especially with the prototype at the beginning when we lost too much ground, and with no yellows throughout the race we could never make it up. I am happy with second considering all the variables, but I really think we had the pace to pressure Magnussen and Garcia if we hadn’t been delayed at the beginning.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “Sometimes there are second places that come easily, but this was not one of those. John did a fantastic job in the beginning and really had a good start and moved up to second. Unfortunately the prototype in front us slowed us and allowed the leader get away. There were no yellows, which was good for the spectators, but unlucky for us. I had lots of understeer, which meant I could not attack, but my car was quick enough to keep Tommy (Milner) behind me.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “That was certainly not the finish we wanted! All you can ask for is to have a car capable of winning. We had that today, but a bit of bad luck cost us. Fortunately, we did not lose the lead in the championship. If that was our bad luck for the year we’ll take it.”
Andy Priaulx, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “From the moment the Z4 left the pits to the moment I jumped out of it I felt really strong. Unfortunately, I had some bad luck. I got delayed by the prototypes and that cost us some seconds on the way into the pits. I lost the mirror and that cost us some more time. Unfortunately in a short race like this you can’t have that happen. There were no yellows and we just needed one to be back up there. It is just disappointing we are not where we wanted to be, but we are still leading the championship.”
Round Four of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the Monterey Grand Prix, will take place at Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, Calif., on Sunday, May 4th. The race will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.imsa.com.