Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, driving the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM, finished third in today’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen for the pair’s second podium finish of the season. Teammates John Edwards and Lucas Luhr finished eighth in the No. 100 M6. Both cars completed 190 laps of the 3.4-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen International circuit during the fifth round of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The race was won by the No. 67 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.
The GTLM class headline in today’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen was the battle between BMW and Ford. Ultimately, Ford was the victor, but for virtually every lap of the race it was either a Ford or a BMW at the front of the field – usually separated by less than one second, even as the checkered flag signaled the end of the race.
At the start Edwards jumped from his third place starting position to take the GLTM class lead as the field snaked through the uphill esses after taking the green flag. He surrendered the lead a few laps later, ultimately dropping to the rear of the class after a problem during a pit stop in the race’s first caution period. Werner, after a flawless stop by the No. 25 M6 crew, had the lead of the GTLM class as the race finished the first hour. Just before the second hour both Werner and Edwards relinquished their seats to Auberlen and Edwards during green flag stops. Auberlen continued in the class lead and Luhr moved up to the fifth spot after quick pit work. At the race’s mid-point Auberlen and Luhr still held the first and fifth positions.
A quarter of an hour into the second half of the race, Auberlen pitted and Werner returned behind the wheel of the No. 25 M6. Reentering the race in fifth, the German cycled back to the front following pit stops by competitors during the race’s second caution period. Luhr handed the No. 100 M6 back to Edwards who circulated in the tenth position. Werner made his penultimate stop with approximately one hour and forty minutes to go, only a few laps before the third caution period occurred for a prototype car that had spun. The green flag flew with one hour and fifteen minutes remaining. Werner held second and Edwards fifth. The field was soon closed up again as the yellow flag was displayed for a fourth time due to an expired engine in a prototype. Back to green flag racing, Edwards pitted to hand off to Luhr for the final stint with some 50 minutes remaining. Two laps later Werner pitted from second to give the No. 25 M6 back to Auberlen to finish.
With 30 minutes to go the fifth caution period occurred to set the stage for the final act of the race. The green flag waved seven minutes later with the top-six GTLM cars nose-to-tail. One last yellow flag soon flew for contact debris in turn nine and the field was slowed. Less than fifteen minutes remained when the green flag was waved for the final time. Auberlen was passed for position on the penultimate lap, but held on for the second podium finish for BMW Team RLL this season. The No. 100 M6 of Edwards and Luhr crossed the checkered flag in eighth.
“It was a hard race,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “Bill and Dirk did a very good job, but it is clear that the Fords showed what they showed at Le Mans. They are the quickest cars out there. However, we gave them a run. We had a bad pit stop right there at the end with the number 100 car that took the wind out of our sails, so we were disappointed with that, but the car didn’t quite have the pace of the 25 car for some reason. It was still a good finish for the 25 car. We earned some good points and certainly when you consider how we ran at Laguna Seca this is a major improvement. On to Mosport.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (3rd): “That was a hard earned third. I have raced in this race since I was 18 years old and I have never had that clean a race. The others were never in our way and the whole team did a great job. The crew was flawless, the car was flawless and we are finding our way now in this championship.”
Dirk Werner, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (3rd): “I am very happy with this podium, especially thinking of where we were at the last race and how hard we have worked to get back into a position where we are close to winning a race. The whole team made no mistakes, we had a clean weekend and made a lot of good decisions. I think that was a good race to get back into this championship after the long break.”
John Edwards, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (8th): “I think we had one of the quickest cars save for the top two, but unfortunately every time we managed to claw our way back to the top five and get ourselves ready for a fight we had either bad luck or something else happened, so we would find ourselves back in P10. We came back through the field a couple of times, but it was pretty frustrating not to be able to capitalize on the speed of the car.”
Lucas Luhr, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (8th): “For sure was very frustrating. Basically the season is continuing like it started and it seems we cannot get a break. In the middle stint we didn’t have the fastest car, but then twice there was something wrong at the pit stop, so twice we were dead last. At the end the car was quick, but from back there you cannot really fight. At least our sister car, got a podium so that is good for them, but we just need to keep on pushing, keep on fighting and hopefully one day the mishaps will end.”
Round Six of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Mobil 1 Sports Car Grand Prix, will be held at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, on July 10th. The race will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.