John Edwards and Lucas Luhr drove the No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM to victory in today’s two-hour-and-forty-minute TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The duo completed 108 laps of the 2.238-mile circuit, finishing 20.4 seconds ahead of teammates Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner in the No. 25 Z4 GTLM.
This marks the first win for BMW Team RLL at Laguna Seca, the first for Edwards and Luhr as co-drivers as well as the first for Luhr as a BMW driver.
Today’s victory – the second for the team this season after Long Beach two weeks ago – comes almost exactly 40 years to the day after Hans-J. Stuck drove a BMW 3.0 CSL to the win in the second heat of the IMSA Camel GT Challenge race here in 1975 – also the second win of the season for Stuck and BMW Motorsport. The BMW Team RLL Z4 GTLM cars are competing this season in a similar livery to that of the CSL to commemorate that very first season of competition for BMW Motorsport in North America.
Unofficially, the win moves BMW into first place in the GTLM Manufacturers’ points standings. Auberlen and Werner remain second in Drivers’ points while Edwards and Luhr jump from fourth to third.
Dirk Werner, in the No 25 Z4 and Lucas Luhr, in the No. 24 machine started the race from the front row of the GTLM grid. Luhr was able to get by Werner in the opening laps and the teammates raced in first and second for the opening 40 minutes of the event.
The first pit stop for both BMWs came on lap 23 during the first caution period of the race. Luhr pitted the No. 24 Z4 from the lead and handed the car off to John Edwards. Werner remained in the No. 25 machine. A crowded pit lane delayed both BMWs and Edwards dropped to second and Werner to third.
With one hour complete, Edwards had regained the lead with some 14 seconds in hand. Further back in the field Werner, now in fourth spot, battled Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette.
Edwards had extended his lead to some 20 seconds before he pitted on lap 63 for his final stop of the race. Werner pitted on the following lap after a strong effort to move up to second place. He handed off to Auberlen and after the rest of the field cycled through their pit stops BMW Team RLL was back at the front of the GTLM field with one hour to go – Edwards in P1, Auberlen in P2.
Edwards and Auberlen were unchallenged for the remainder of the contest to deliver an outstanding 1-2 result for BMW as it celebrates its 40th anniversary of sports car competition in North America.
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal, BMW Team RLL): “It was a good day. I think what made the big difference early on was John had a great restart and got ahead. He was able to use traffic and really got a good gap to the field because of that. Then he just maintained that. Bill and Dirk did a great job coming through. Good pit stops – and I think our stops were better than everybody else’s today and that gave us some breathing room. The car was very reliable, as always.”
John Edwards (No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM, 1st place): “It is nice to get to the top step of the podium after our team mates did it at the last race. It has been a really good weekend for BMW, but these don’t come easy. It has been over two years since I had a win. Today we had a lot of traffic and I was able to get through it a bit better than the rest and that is what gave me an advantage. I just kind of managed the pace from there. I don’t think I really did too many quicker laps than the rest of the field except that I got through the traffic, so that was definitely the key. After two years it is a relief to finally be back on the top step.”
Lucas Luhr (No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM, 1st place): “It is very special for me. A special day. It is my first win as a BMW works driver, so that is very, very sweet and I think I am going to remember it for a long time. I think the key for us was we were the only car that started on the soft tires and that was maybe a little bit of a risk. Then the next key was that in traffic I was able to go by Dirk and was able to pull a little gap and that gave us a bit of an advantage over the competitors. But then we changed and we came out behind the Ferrari when we blocked ourselves a little bit in the pits. John did a great job to get by him again. Then it was our race to control and he did an awesome job to control the pace and also to manage the traffic well. He still gave me some grey hairs at some of the overtaking moves, but he did really well and I am happy. It is a one-two for BMW and for the BMW Team RLL, so it is a very good day here in beautiful California.”
Bill Auberlen (No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM, 2nd place): “Apparently the West Coast market is a good one for BMW! It is good for us, we came here, we did really well in Long Beach and won, and now we have decided let’s switch it up and the black car wins. You cannot be happier for this team. The team is amazing. I came into the pits with just barely a gap, it was tooth and nail with the Porsche and the Ferrari and our pit stop gave me a gap that I could baby those Michelins, because we were very hard on our tires today. I just kept them under me. They stayed there the whole time just enough to make it to the end to finish second. This moves our team car up in the points and this is about as good as it is going to get. I just lucky we had that gap because if I had to fight at the end it would have been tough, but I was up for the challenge. The car was as good as the car could be. We always come here and know the track is going to go away a little bit, but the engineering, the Michelins, BMW Team RLL, BMW, I can’t remember the last time we had a one-two. It’s everybody’s day.”
Dirk Werner (No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM, 2nd place): “For the team this is the perfect day and we can be really happy because we just got the optimum out of our package and that is how you win races. To come in one-two is a great result for BMW and the whole team. For us in the manufacturers’ championship it now looks good, and for the two cars it looks a lot better again in the drivers’ championship. But it is only four races into the season. We have to focus on the next races, as there are still six to go. Just being able to turn around the kind of bad luck we had in the first two races is great. The team worked well, the car was fast so I am very happy.”
Round Five of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will be held at Watkins Glen International, in Watkins Glen, NY, on June 28th. The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen race will be broadcast live from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports One and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports Two.