First win in North America in the sixth race: at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) event at the “Canadian Tire Motorsport Park“ near Bowmanville (CA), the new BMW M6 GT3 for the first time proved that it’s a true winner outside of Europe.
Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, driving the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM, finished fourth in today’s Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix, at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada. The duo completed 119 laps of the 2.459-mile, 10-turn circuit during the two-hour-and-forty-minute race. Teammates John Edwards and Lucas Luhr, driving the No. 100 M6 GTLM, finished ninth after power steering repairs in the first hour of the race cost the pair 11 laps.
The BMW highlight of the weekend was a GTD class win for the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 of Bret Curtis and BMW Motorsport driver Jens Klingmann. Turner Motorsport also scored the BMW Z4’s first North American win in 2014 on the way to the GTD class championship.
The opening stages of the race saw Auberlen, starting in the fifth position, move past Luhr, starting in fourth, on the opening lap. On the very next lap a strong outside pass of Richard Westbrook’s Ford GT in turn eight saw the Californian take second. Luhr held onto the fifth position, but it quickly became clear that there was a lack of performance with the No. 100 M6. He hung on until pitting on lap 21 where it was determined to take the car to the paddock for repairs to the power steering unit. At the 40 minute mark, Auberlen moved the No. 25 M6 into second on lap 32 and the No. 100 M6, now with John Edwards behind the wheel, rejoined the race 11 laps down. On lap 37 Auberlen pitted under green from second to hand off to Dirk Werner. A quick stop by the No. 25 crew kept the BMW Motorsport driver in second place. Werner set the race’s fastest lap (1:15.482 minutes) on lap 46. With 50 laps complete Werner continued to give strong chase, only .525 seconds behind the leading Corvette.
The complexion of the race changed as the first caution period of the race occurred at the 1:14 mark (lap 57). The top-four GTLM competitors remained on track in order to delay their final pit stop until they could reach the checkered flag. A few competitors, namely the No. 67 Ford GT and No. 912 Porsche elected to pit. A second three lap caution period occurred on lap 69, not allowing the field to pit, but letting all those who had just pitted to catch back up. As the leaders cycled through the pits the Ford and the Porsche inherited the lead. Werner made his final stop on lap 76 under green, rejoining the field in fourth. One more caution flag flew to compress the field and place traffic in front of Werner that slowed any forward progress. A final yellow flag waved with two minutes remaining to hold Werner in fourth. John Edwards soldiered on to complete 108 laps, finishing ninth.
Following the race, the decision was made to run the fan favorite Stars and Stripes livery that has adorned the No. 25 M6 for the Watkins Glen and CTMP races one more time at Lime Rock Park.
“It was a little disappointing, as I think the No. 25 M6 had the pace,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “The strategy didn’t work our favor. The Fords took a big risk with the strategy, but it paid off. At the end we just seemed to be affected by traffic and lost two positions to the Corvettes. Fourth was good for the points, but I doubt we made any gains.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (4th): “The race was going well. I took it easy as I knew I was on a slightly different tire to the cars ahead of me. I just waited and eventually got to the front before handing over to Dirk. Then quite a few yellows came out and all the back markers seemed to take a different strategy. We decided to stop one more time and make it to the end and that would have worked if there were no more yellows. We played the cards we were dealt, but it was not the way to the win – even with the great car we had today.”
Dirk Werner, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM (4th): “It was disappointing because the car was quite good at the beginning, and then we lost a couple of spots. It was a little bit of tough luck, as we couldn’t overtake at the end of the race although we were a bit quicker, but on the straights it was difficult. A tough day for both cars.”
John Edwards, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (9th): “It was really an unlucky day as we had a power steering failure. The car was really quick, especially when we were by ourselves. We struggled a little bit in traffic. Overall I think we had really good pace and it is a shame to see no result from it.”
Lucas Luhr, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM (9th): “It was obviously a disappointing day. I had an issue with the power steering. I think it was a connector that came a little bit loose. Without power steering, especially here with these high downforce corners, you cannot steer the car.”
Round Seven of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Northeast Grand Prix, will be held at Lime Rock Park, in Lakeville, Conn., on Saturday, July 23rd. The race will be broadcast live on FOX beginning at 3 p.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.