BMW Z4 GTE
Published by Autobahn Buzz (BMW Z4 GTE)
Munich (DE), 21st April 2013. The streets of Long Beach, California (US) continue to be the preferred stomping ground of BMW Team RLL, as its automobiles finished one-two in Saturday’s American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race. Bill Auberlen (US) and Maxime Martin (BE), driving the Frozen Black No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE, won the GT category, finishing 6.578 seconds ahead of the No. 56 automobile of Joey Hand (United States) and Dirk Müller (DE).
In just the second race for the brand-new BMW Z4 GTE, the team beat a very competitive GT course field by employing exceptional driving technique during the first hour of the two-hour contest around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit. BMW Team RLL has finished with at least one automobile on the Long Beach podium, including winning from the pole position in 2011, for 5 successive years. This victory puts BMW in a tie with Chevrolet at the top of the GT Course Manufacturer points. The success was likewise the first for the new collaboration between BMW and Michelin.
Martin began in the No. 55 vehicle from 4th. A spin on lap 2 dropped him to the back of the field, but the first of three long caution flags in the first hour of the race offered the 55 team the possibility to reverse its fortune. Pitting Martin after 25 mins, on lap 16, Auberlen began his stint behind the wheel with a full tank of fuel and new Michelins. During the second caution, Auberlen pitted twice more for fuel only.
When the race went green with 44 mins to run, the die was cast for the veteran to not return to the pits for the remainder of the race. A 3rd caution, throughout which the rest of the field pitted, allowed for a bit more breathing room for fuel conservation and Auberlen to move up to 2nd, as the race went green right past the first hour of the contest. On lap 66 with 15 mins left in the race, Auberlen took the lead and drove to his first win at the Long Beach Grand Prix.
The No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE had a similarly interesting race. Hand began the race from seventh on the grid. He pitted during the 3rd caution flag and handed the automobile to Müller, who began his stint from 3rd spot as the race went green. Charging for the entire 2nd hour, he took over 2nd place with two laps remaining to offer BMW Group RLL its first one-two finish since the 12 Hours of Sebring (US) in 2011.
“Congratulations to BMW Team RLL for this spectacular result. We have actually always been encouraged that the BMW Z4 GTE would succeed in the ALMS. However, not even the most significant optimists would have anticipated a one-two in only the automobile’s second race appearance. The outcome of the Long Beach race just shows how well our development team in Munich and BMW Group RLL have actually worked. Our race method in Long Beach was just the best, and the 4 drivers turned it into an excellent result.”.
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW Group RLL):.
“This is a really good one. The 55 car had an excellent race plan. We followed a different strategy and at the end we put both cars at the front of the pack and the BMW Z4 GTE into the history books with a one-two finish in only our 2nd race. We had the ability to run even more than one stint on the Michelins, and that was essential to make our techniques work. There is absolutely nothing like succeeding at Long Beach. Sebring is the huge one, however Long Beach is not far behind in my book.”.
Bill Auberlen (BMW Z4 GTE– car number 55):.
“Today the BMW Z4 GTE took me to the top of the Long Beach podium, which is something I have actually tried to do for a long time. Great technique by the group and the Michelins were an outright satisfaction to drive on all day.”.
Maxime Martin (BMW Z4 GTE– automobile number 55):.
“I made a little error in the beginning, however who was to understand that it would set the stage for a wonderful strategy call by Jay (O’Connell) and Bruno (Couprie). Today is a superb day for Expense and BMW.”.
Dirk Müller (BMW Z4 GTE– vehicle number 56):.
“Congratulations to Bill for his first win at Long Beach. At the end Bobby was on the radio telling me to push, but to see to it I brought it home. It was not easy to overtake Dominik (Farnbacher), but being old team-mates I knew he would be reasonable. I am pleased for the whole BMW Team RLL family.”.
Joey Hand (BMW Z4 GTE– vehicle number 56):.
“After qualifying seventh I was not happy, however I informed the team I thought we could win. It wasn’t quite our day today, but I could not be more pleased for Expense to get his first victory at his home track. Dirk did a great job to bring the vehicle home second.”.
Round three of the 2013 American Le Mans Collection will be held at “Laguna Seca Raceway” in Monterey (United States) on 11th May with the running of the six-hour American Le Mans Monterey race.