MUNICH, 29-Aug-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — BMW Team RLL’s fourth and ninth place finishes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway (USA) are far different than would have been predicted in the first 85 laps of the 93 completed. A left front tyre puncture with eight laps remaining forced the number 25 BMW M6 GTLM of Bill Auberlen (USA) and Alexander Sims (GBR) into the pits after controlling the majority of the two-hour-and-forty-minute race and, ultimately, a disappointing fourth place finish. After a strong start, two technical issues with the number 24 BMW M6 GTLM, of John Edwards (USA) and Martin Tomczyk (GER), only allowed a total of 72 laps to be completed and a ninth place finish.
Sims made the most from the outside of the front row starting position to race the number 25 BMW M6 GTLM into the lead of the race just after the green flag waved. Continuing to push, he opened a healthy gap to the field and led for his entire opening stint before pitting to hand over to Auberlen on lap 29. Edwards, starting from third, maintained his position until an issue with the steering of the number 24 BMW M6 GTLM forced him into the pits on lap 12 for repairs. Unfortunately, 11 laps were lost before the car could return to competition.
At the mid-point of the two-hour-and-forty-minute contest Auberlen had completed 48 laps, leading the field by 23 seconds. Tomczyk entered the number 24 Car on lap 43 and was only able to continue for 29 more laps when his race ended in the garage on lap 72. The crew called the number 25 car to the pits early, on lap 56, following a low tyre pressure alert. Sims controlled the race until a second low pressure signal brought him back into the pits on lap 85 to change the left front Michelin. Ultimately, the win was gone and a fourth place finish was the result.
In the GTD class, Jesse Krohn (FIN) and Jens Klingmann (GER) in the number 96 BMW M6 GT3 of Turner Motorsport delivered a strong performance and finished in second place on the podium. Klingmann was battling for the win on the final laps, but was unable to find a way past the Lamborghini in first place.
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW Team RLL):
“To have the race in hand and lose to a puncture is extremely disappointing. There is really nothing more to say.”
Bill Auberlen (Number 25 BMW M6 GTLM, 4th place): “I have raced for many years, and a loss like we had today never gets easier to deal with. The complexion of the championship now changes out of our favour, but there is no giving up.”
Alexander Sims (Number 25 BMW M6 GTLM, 4th place): “What a disappointing end to a great race. We had great pace – probably the best car I’ve had all year in the first stint – but it all went away with the second puncture.”
John Edwards (Number 24 BMW M6 GTLM, 9th place): “A steering issue and the resulting repairs put an end to any chance for a good result for the number 24 BMW M6 GTLM and two punctures took a win from our team-mates. Certainly, a disappointing day, but on the positive side we showed the potential for a win.”
Martin Tomczyk (Number 24 BMW M6 GTLM, 9th place): “A technical issue has kept us from another good result, but we have two races remaining in the season and we will get back to podium before it is over.”
SOURCE: BMW Group