Munich/Sebring. BMW M3s were second, fourth and 10th in the GT class after six hours of the 12 Hours at Sebring race on the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway road course. BMW Motorsport drivers JJ Lehto (FIN) and Jorg Muller (D), led...
Munich/Sebring. BMW M3s were second, fourth and 10th in the GT class after six hours of the 12 Hours at Sebring race on the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway road course. BMW Motorsport drivers JJ Lehto (FIN) and Jorg Muller (D), led the BMW contingent with a strong performance from the new No. 42 BMW M3 GTR. BMW Team PTG was fourth in class with the No. 6 M3 of Hans Stuck (D), Boris Said (USA) and Peter Cunningham (USA). The BMW Motorsport No. 43 M3 of Fredrik Ekblom (S) and Dirk Muller (D) was 10th at the halfway mark and the BMW Team PTG No. 10 M3 had retired with an engine failure.
Lehto started the No. 42 third on the GT grid and took the class lead 11 minutes into the 12-hour race. Jorg Muller took over after the first hour and returned to the track in ninth place after the first pitstop. He retook the class lead just before the two-hour mark. The pair continued to alternate at the wheel and led most of the first half of the race.
Dirk Muller started the No. 43 M3 sixth in GT. He moved to fourth before Ekblom took over after 75 minutes. The pair settled into fourth place until a hydraulic line failed on the engine's VANOS system. Ekblom returned to the track in 12th place after a 22-minute pitstop, but had to stop two more times to clear residual fluid from the windshield. By mid-race, the car was in 10th place.
BMW Motorsport team manager Charly Lamm: "I really can't believe what has happened in the first six hours. For the 42 BMW M3 GTR, which came to Sebring as a completely new race car, to lead so much of the race is just unbelievable! Also,the 43 BMW M3 had a very good start. Dirk picked up a good rhythm and got up to fourth position when a hydraulic line for the engine's VANOS system failed. It cost us a lot of time and we had pit again to clear the windshield of the oil in the engine compartment. It's unfortunate, but that's racing. We'll just try to bring it to the finish and score some points." JJ Lehto #42: "It's going really well. We haven't had any big problems, just a little problem taking off from the pitstops. But the heat is causing a lot of pain, even the tires go down a little bit earlier. I'm really boiled at the moment because it's so hot in the car. But we're able to keep up a good pace and everything looks very good at the moment."
Fredrik Ekblom #43: "The first half of the race was really good and we were in fourth place. But unfortunately, we had a line break and after that we had a lot of oil on the windows and I couldn't see anything. I had to come in a couple of times, but finally I didn't come in because you lose so much time in the pits. I just tried to make it to the end of my stint."