Bill Auberlen enters this weekend's American Le Mans Series race at Circuit of the Americas with an edge on the competition. The California driver has already won two races in 2013 on the challenging new 3.4-mile track designed for Formula One World Championship racing. With 20 turns and a very technical layout, every previous lap on the Austin, Texas, road course will be critical.
Auberlen scored his Austin victories driving BMWs for Turner Motorsport in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge races on March 2. It was the second time Auberlen, his co-driver Paul Dalla Lana (Canada) and Turner Motorsport combined to post two wins on the same day, repeating their record run at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2011.
This week, Auberlen will race the No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE in the ALMS GT class with his California co-driver, Joey Hand. Although the team and Hand haven't yet seen the Austin track, Auberlen's experience will give them a speed boost.
"I've taken the data from the Turner team – every change we made on the track – and I've already sent it to my American Le Mans team to see if they can utilize it," Auberlen said. "I can lay down a lap and they can use it for data. That will help my teammates know what to do where; it will bring them up to speed much faster."
Data analysis is just one of the tools Auberlen uses to find the split seconds that get him to the top of the podium.
"I watch every video I can find, whether it's Formula One or any other type of car, to see certain lines that people run or to see if there's an advantage somebody had. In the video of the Austin Formula One race, there was one turn where a specific person was doing a certain line into it, in order to make passes happen. I used that over and over and over, and nobody else ever used it," he explained.
"When I get to the track, I keep a very keen eye – I don't just look at our world, I look at everybody else's world. I walk around and I can see other people's cars, I can see their basic springs or sway bars or ride heights or rake angles or wing angles. If I see somebody getting quicker and I can see where their car was and where it went to, I can go back to my engineers, tell them what I saw and try to apply it.
"It's keeping an open mind, not being set in your ways. If somebody does something better, I will immediately become a chameleon, put it into my arsenal and use it."
The experience and commitment are evident in Auberlen's results. Racing in three North-American sports-car series, he already has five wins, seven podiums and five fastest race laps (four of them records) this season. He added a record pole position at the previous ALMS event, on the streets of Baltimore in August. He has five races to go in his 18th season with BMW, but Auberlen isn't resting on his results.
"To win five races already this year, in three different championships, and setting all these records, I feel like I'm getting faster and smarter every year," he said. "The combination of BMW and me has proven to work very well for the past 18 years. It's the continuation of an amazing career."
Bill Auberlen has driven BMW cars in more races than any other driver in the world. He has won six professional auto-racing championships, four with BMW power. He has competed in 498 professional races to date, 341 in BMWs. His results include 91 race victories, 189 podium finishes, 57 pole positions, 84 fastest race laps and 113 records. He is tied for the most American Le Mans Series starts (113).