BMW Team RLL finished second and fourth in this weekend’s 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona on the 40th anniversary of BMW Motorsport’s very first race in North America and the start of the 1975 IMSA season for the iconic BMW 3.0 CSL. With car numbers chosen to honor that car, the No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM finished second and the No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM took the checkered flag fourth.
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Bill Auberlen, Augusto Farfus, Bruno Spengler, and Dirk Werner completed 725 laps around the 3.56-mile, 12-turn Daytona International Speedway road course in the No. 25 machine during the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic. Werner, the finishing driver, took the checkered flag a scant 0.478 seconds behind the winning No. 3 Corvette.
The No. 24, driven by John Edwards, Jens Klingmann, Lucas Luhr, and Graham Rahal, finished 24 laps in arrears after an accident just past the nine hour mark cost the quartet 29 laps.
Last season, the team finished the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the same positions, and, following another podium finish at Sebring, led the championship for the early part of the 2014 season.
“That was a nail biter for the last ten to fifteen minutes,” said Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director.” The final yellow came in just the right moment for us so we were lucky at the end. I should give a compliment to everyone involved for the hard work here and back in Munich over the winter to build some top speed into the BMW Z4 GTLM that we were lacking here last year. We can definitely see the improvement. We aren’t there yet, but the guys had something in their hands that they could fight with today, and in that respect I send big, big congratulations to all the drivers and the team. They really fought hard and deserve this second-place. I would have been super happy with a win, but only one-half second behind at the finish is a result we can be proud of. Second and fourth make a fantastic start the 2015 season and the 40th anniversary here for BMW.
“All the drivers did a great job in their respective cars,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “They did, frankly, everything we asked them to. We are getting closer every year. Maybe next time we’ll get to the top of the Daytona podium.”
Hour No. 24 Lap No.25 Lap
19 P5 542 P2 567
20 P5 573 P3 598
21 P4 604 P2 628
22 P4 637 P1 662
23 P4 670 P2 695
24 P4 701 P2 725
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM – “It was a great finish. It is two years in a row we have finished second. Last year, we finished two and a half seconds behind and this year Dirk drove it up there and got it within half a second. It was amazing. All the guys put their heads down and achieved the best possible result. Hats off to all these guys in the team as that is all we could do.”
Bruno Spengler, driver No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM – “My first 24-hour race in a racing car and I finished second. I am very, very happy about that. I had to learn a lot of things here – especially getting used to the cold tires at night because I have driven for the past ten years with tire warmers. There were also so many cars around and I had to try and pass them without getting into trouble. It was a great experience. BMW Team RLL is a great team and I was proud to be involved with this effort. The mechanics did an amazing job. Jens Marquardt was here to support us and stayed up the whole night. Bobby coached us through the race and this was a great experience for me. I wish I had not done that little mistake trying to overtake. I took the two Corvettes at the restart quite quickly but then I was a little optimistic on my braking to try and overtake a PC class car as quick as possible to try and gain some time over the Corvettes. I guess that was a little bit of my sprint racer character trying to come out as I was a little bit young in endurance racing so I still have to learn, but I still managed to get back on track and then it ended up well. Dirk had an amazing drive and was putting pressure on the Corvette in front of us, but unfortunately there was not enough time to overtake but he did great. It was an amazing experience and I really hope I can do this again.”
Augusto Farfus, driver No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM – “That last stint was practically a qualifying stint, and one of the best days of my life. I got out there and then when I knew it was my last stint of the race I gave everything I had.”
Dirk Werner, driver No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM – “To finish a race like that is nice. In the last couple of laps we were both on the limit. I tried to give everything, but it was just not enough – although we were really close. I think the team can be really happy with all that we have achieved in this 24 hour race and the performance of the car, which was down to the time and work BMW have put into it over the winter. It makes me optimistic for the rest of the season and looking forward to that already. Thanks to everybody involved, my team mates and the entire team.”
Jens Klingmann, driver No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM – “When I jumped into the car it was still night time so it was just a beautiful scene when the sun rose. I tried to keep up the pace. Even though we were laps down we didn’t give up and we were still pushing because you never know, maybe something happens and another guy drops out and we can still gain some positions. Now we are up to P5 and that was my second and last stint because I did two triple stints, which is about six hours in total. I really enjoyed it. It was my first race in the States and my first race in a GTLM, and it was really a beautiful experience. I think we did quite well apart from that little accident. At least we had the performance and the package is working and I am looking forward to doing another couple of races with this team, my team-mates and, of course, the Z4.”
John Edwards, driver No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM – “That last one was a triple stint so a bit longer than my first two, and actually it was green for most of it. I think I only had one full course yellow during that whole of it. That’s why I have been sweating a lot! We made up a couple of positions due to other people falling out. That’s all we knew we had to do at around midnight last night. It was kind of a frustrating position to be in at that point because you know your race is pretty much over when it comes to winning a watch. You know you have got to keep pushing because we made up two or three positions just by continuing to run. That will help us later on in the year for the championship.”
Lucas Luhr, driver No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM – “First of all I have to say I am very proud of the improvements the whole team – the guys from BMW Motorsport, BMW Team RLL, and BMW of North America – have made since last year. It is still the same result, but we were ready to fight and ready to hunt. Our car had an accident with John, which was unfortunate but the other car also had a little off. Speed wise we had improved a lot since last year and I am very proud to be part of it. Some days in racing it is just not your day, and unfortunately today it was not our day, but we are second and fourth and these are very important points for the manufacturer and for the team championship, so I think we can work with that and move on to Sebring.”
Graham Rahal, driver No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM – “As everybody knows in these sorts of races a lot of luck goes into it. Unfortunately, she wasn’t on our side today. I am disappointed we couldn’t be a little bit better, but the boys did a great job fixing the car and making up for the mistakes that were made, not on our part but by other guys hitting us. I am proud of our effort and hope we will be back next year to do a better job.”
Round 2 of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Series will be held at Sebring International Raceway, in Sebring, Fla., with the 63rd Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 21st. For BMW, the race represents an important anniversary – it is the 40th anniversary of BMW Motorsport’s very first victory in the United States.