Bill Auberlen is on a hot streak – and he doesn't plan to cool down. He has set three track records en route to three victories and seven GT podium finishes in two sports-car series so far this season. Two of his wins came in the past week, one in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Road America, one in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series at Watkins Glen International.
"Two races, two very different series, two very different tracks, but one common denominator – BMW power," Auberlen noted. He has driven BMW cars in 310 races, more than any other driver in the world.
Auberlen's victory at Road America capped a string of success on the 4.048-mile road course, starting with his first professional sports-car racing win in 1993. He has continued to post wins, podiums and record-setting laps on the sweeping track nestled in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., combined with Jörg Müller of Monaco to top the GT class on Saturday, driving the No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW M3.
"This was a very special win," Auberlen said. "We struggled early in the weekend. Between [team owner] Bobby Rahal, the engineering at BMW Team RLL, Dunlop tires and my guys, we pulled it together. We qualified on the second row and we made constant adjustments setting ourselves up for the end. We still struggled in straight-line speed, but we made the handling as good as we possibly could. We were peaking at our maximum speed potential by the end of the weekend."
Auberlen drove the first and final stints of the four-hour race. He started fourth on the GT grid and held the position through the first 45 minutes. Müller drove next, returning to the track sixth. He dropped back to 11th, then cycled up to take the class lead as BMW Team RLL demonstrated their winning pit strategy. Müller handed back to Auberlen from fifth place just before the two-hour mark.
Auberlen pitted again for a left-rear tire, leaving him 11th in class. He then steadily worked through the field to fourth. After one last stop for fuel and tires at three hours, Auberlen took the class lead with 38 minutes to go and held it to the checkered flag.
"Elkhart Lake is one of the most fun tracks in the world," he said. "It's fast, it's beautiful and it takes courage to get around there fast. You need to be up on the ragged edge of the turns because they're so quick. You need to be very precise, very aggressive, and you need to have a car like a BMW M3 under you.
"BMW is great there because we have very good weight distribution and that makes for a super-balanced car. That, in combination with the Dunlop tires, makes it so fun to drive. It has so much downforce, so much grip and traction. In the last 15 minutes, I had a giant grin on my face wheeling that BMW M3 around the track. Even though I was leading the race and running for my life, it was so enjoyable to drive. Only the M3 can do that."
Source: Bill Auberlen