Munich. "One of the most difficult but beautiful race tracks" is how BMW driver JJ Lehto describes the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. On Sunday, October 10, the Finn will be taking turns at the wheel of the BMW V12 Le Mans Roadster with his English colleague Steve Soper in the 7th and penultimate race of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). BMW's second open sportscar will be driven by Bill Auberlen (USA) and Joachim Winkelhock (Ger) in this 2-hour 45-minute race.
Featuring 11 bends, this 3.6-km race track winds its way through the hilly countryside two hours by car from San Francisco. The most famous combination of bends is Corkscrew, where the cars literally fly over a crest, then taking a hard left immediately followed by a right turn before roaring on down a steep slope.
In 1997 Lehto and Soper were hot contenders for the FIA GT Championship in Laguna Seca, but then had to retire and finished the season in second place. "So with this in mind", says Charly Lamm, BMW's Team Manager back then and today, "we still have a score to settle here." And in the words of Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger: "Since we just missed victory in Atlanta last month, we are here to win this time."
So far BMW has scored two wins in four ALMS races. At the recent 1,000 mile race in Atlanta, Auberlen, Soper and Winkelhock finished second ahead of Lehto and J”rg Mller. Bill Auberlen has fond memories not just of Atlanta, but also of Laguna Seca where, in 1998, he scored the first victory for BMW's V8 racing engine, which was still new at the time.
BMW Team PTG ranked No 1 in the GT Class
With Hans-Joachim Stuck and his team-mate Boris Said finishing second in Atlanta, BMW Team PTG is currently No 1 in the ranking of GT Class teams, where Tom Milner's team is competing with three BMW M3s as the defending champion.
Race Time: 12:00 noon until 2:45.