Dirk Müller secured BMW Team RLL’s first podium finish in four TUDOR United SportsCar Championship races with an excellent closing stint in the No. 56 BMW Team RLL Z4 GTLM to take a second place finish in today’s Road Race Showcase at Road America. Hounded from behind by the No. 93 Viper for the final minutes Müller stayed ahead to complete 61 laps of the 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit in the 2.75-hour contest.
He ultimately finished only 1.588 seconds behind the winning No. 62 Ferrari. Co-driver John Edwards started the race from the pole position and saved the day by deftly avoiding the race’s first accident to suffer only minor damage to the left front fascia. He pitted during the first caution period to have the damage repaired and hand off to Müller.
The No. 55 BMW Team RLL Z4 of Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx finished eighth. The car was started by Bill Auberlen from his fourth place qualifying position. He held the spot for the opening hour before pitting during the race’s third caution period to hand off to Priaulx. Priaulx fell back two positions following a delay at the end of his pit stop so not to run over an errant air hose and incur a penalty. He lost two more positions during late race restarts to ultimately finish eighth.
Separately, in the GTD class, the Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GTD, driven by Dane Cameron and Marcus Palttala, raced to the team’s third victory of the season (Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen International, Road America). The duo led every lap of the 59 lap GTD race.
“Overall, this was a good day for BMW,” said Gordon McDonnell, BMWNA Motorsport Manager. “BMW Team RLL is back on the podium with a second place finish by the No. 56 Z4 and excellent drives by John and Dirk. The Balance of Performance is certainly not in our favor so the podium finish is well deserved. Congratulations to Turner Motorsport for a third GTD class win. They have kept themselves in the championship hunt.”
“Obviously, lots of yellow flags make for a challenging race,” said Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director. “We made the right strategy decisions and just had to sprint to the end with the No. 56 Z4. It is great this worked out for us with a second place for Dirk and John. Well done to the team.”
“After lap two or three the day did not look like it was going to be a good one,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “The No. 56 Z4 was wounded aerodynamically and it slowed us a little bit on the straights. Dirk did a great job and he was able to hold off the Viper at the end. The Ferrari was able to pull away from us on the long straights. Congratulations to them for the win. We are really pleased with second place. We’re back on the podium.”
John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (2nd) – “It was a bit of relief for us yesterday to get the pole as we didn’t expect to be so competitive here with all the long straights. Obviously, we played the strategy well after a bit of contact at the beginning. That gave us a shorter fueling time on the second stop and got us back in the thick of things. It was a short race for me today so this is mostly Dirk’s day after he drove really hard at the end to hold the Viper off.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (2nd) – “When I saw John have the incident only minutes into the race and the front was damaged I thought the race may be over for us. When it was my turn I used every trick in my book to chase and defend and am proud that John and I could race BMW back on the podium.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (8th) – “Between qualifying and the race we tipped the handling of the car over a little bit, so it took us a little while to make some adjustments during our two pit stops. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication in the pits during Andy’s stop. In order to not run over an air line they had to back him up causing us to lose a few positions.”
Andy Priaulx, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (8th) – “I think our pace was good at the end, but at the beginning and the middle we did not have the handling dialed in where we wanted it to be. Bill made a good start, but during the restarts both of us struggled. It was great for the 56 car to finish so well when they looked as if they were out of the race at the beginning.”
Round Nine of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the Oak Tree Grand Prix of VIR, will take place at Virginia International Raceway, in Alton, Virginia, on Sunday, August 24th. The race will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 4:00 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.