BMW Team RLL had a disappointing debut of the BMW M6 GTLM at Long Beach today, finishing fifth and tenth in the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix, the third round of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The 100-minute race started with great promise as the No. 25 of Bill Auberlen, starting from the class pole, led the opening 13 laps of the race. A drive-through penalty Auberlen served on lap 28 after contact with a Prototype Challenge car on lap 24 dropped the No. 25 car down to sixth. Dirk Werner entered the car on lap 31 and rejoined the race in the seventh spot. He raced hard, but was unable to regain any considerable ground. A restart on lap 55, for a caution period that began on lap 51, was the final insult to injury. In the hairpin, Werner was hit in the right rear by a Prototype Challenge car and was forced to the pits to change the cut Michelin. Late race attrition helped move him up to the fifth position by the checkered flag.
John Edwards and Lucas Luhr, unable to shake the bad luck that has clung to the pair this season, were unable to see the race’s finish line. Luhr started the race from the sixth position, but was quickly into the pits on lap four with an electrical issue. He rejoined the race in ninth, but was unable to improve through the first hour of the race. Edwards took over on lap 49 and moved up to eighth. On the lap 55 restart contact with a competitor caused damage that was quickly realized by both Edwards and the crew. Before the team could call him to the pits Edwards was into the wall on lap 64 and out of the race.
“Today was certainly not one of our finer races,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We can’t have penalties and you can’t sustain damage, which sometimes is not your fault for sure as you can be a victim in that, but all those kind of things conspire to cause us to not have a very good race. It was a shame as the 25 car was leading and obviously was a much more competitive proposition. The 100 car had a loss of power early on and that took us out of the fight in the race. It is just a shame, but fifth place was a little bit of a salvage for the 25 car. Now on to the next one.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (5th): “We knew the Porsches were going to be strong. They made a good move and they got me all in the same pass. Then the same old story, you catch a PC car and then they drive away, you catch them up and they drive away and that keeps happening. So I took a little higher risk and got to the guy and I shot under, for sure he doesn’t see me turns in and spins himself on my nose. I get a drive- through penalty. The race is in trouble at that point. We get a yellow flag, catch up and have the opportunity to do it again. Then a PC car hits Dirk in the rear, flattens the tire and that ends our day, as we have to then pit to put another tire on. It should have been a better day.”
Dirk Werner, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (5th): “That was a tough race with no good end for us mainly because I was hit twice. The first time I was nearly spun round the fountain turn, but we were still in the race. However, after the yellow at the restart another car drove into me and cut my tire, so I had to go into the pits and change it. Then we were just hanging in there in the race, got fifth and some points. For sure it was a disappointing result but these racing incidents happen, and we have to get over it. We have a good car and can be happy with the work we did. I am now just looking forward to the next race.”
John Edwards, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (10th): “The whole race was tough for our car. We had an issue with something that shut the power off early on. All that needed to be done was a power cycle and then he could continue, and if it had happened just after the pit lane he could have done the power cycle on track and not lose a lap with the pit stop. Then we were on the back foot. At the restart I had new tires, while everyone else was on old. At that point we had nothing to lose and I was going to try to go through the field to get back on the lead lap and hope for a yellow. Unfortunately that ended before I could get started with a hit from a PC car at the restart that bent the car. At turn one I went off and had a pretty hard hit. I think we could have made up some places with all that was going on so that was a shame.”
Lucas Luhr, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (10th): “That was a very tough challenging day for all of us – the 25 as well as the 100 car. You have to realize that the M6 is still a brand new car and it is the first time we have run it round a street circuit. Especially here in Long Beach, with all the bumps and the changing of concrete to asphalt, it brings its own challenges. To be honest, I think this race came a little bit too early for us, but that is racing, you don’t learn so much from a win, you learn a lot more from negative days which that definitely was. We have a lot of things to look at, a lot of things to learn from that and I am sure we will come back stronger.”
Round 4 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 1, 2016. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.