Bill Auberlen led the American Le Mans Series GT class and earned his 10th sports-car podium finish of the 2011 season on July 24, extending his career total to 170 podiums. But it was a disappointing end to a strong race weekend for the Redondo Beach, Calif., driver. He and his co-driver, Dirk Werner of Nürtingen, Germany, held the GT lead for most of the race at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ont., but dropped back to finish third after Werner served a late-race penalty.

Auberlen started the No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW M3 GT from second on the 15-car GT grid and charged to the class lead after 67 minutes of the two-hour 45-minute race. Werner took the wheel for the final hour and maintained the lead until contact with a slower car sent him to the penalty box with just 18 minutes remaining. He returned to the track third and held the position to the checkered flag.

Bill Auberlen
Bill Auberlen

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia

"Qualifying was remarkably close; BMW controlled the entire front row," Auberlen noted. "When I got the race lead, I had clear air to run in and I just ran the BMW M3 GT as hard as I could. I gave the car to Dirk in the lead and he kept the lead. We were looking really, really good! The team pitstops were flawless and fast. Every time we came in, we made gains on everybody else.

"We've had a little bit of bad luck all year, but we're still very close in the [championship] points. This one, we dropped back to third, but we still finished on the podium and gathered some points. My heart hurts for the team because they've done a remarkable job with developing and making this car so good; we should be winning every single race. Maybe the second half of the season is where we're going to shine. That's what I'm hoping for."

By: bill auberlen/sp