LEXINGTON, Ohio. (August 25, 2001) - The fourth win in a row for BMW in round six of the 2001 American Le Mans Series in the ALMS Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio name today vaulted BMW into a 16-point lead in the GT manufacturer's championship and put Jorg Müller and JJ Lehto atop the driver's championship standings.
Getting a strong jump from its second starting position, the No. 42 BMW Motorsport M3 GTR of Lehto and Jorg Müller led from green flag to checkered flag to win the GT class, finishing just three tenths of a second ahead of their BMW Motorsport teammates Fredrik Ekblom and Dirk Müller in the No. 43 M3 GTR.
The pair led all of the 107 GT class laps of 2-hour, 45-minute race on the 2.258-mile Mid Ohio Sports Car Course just south of Cleveland.
The weekend did not prove as lucky for BMW Team PTG as Boris Said and Hans Stuck could only manage a seventh-place finish - their poorest result of the year. Stuck started in the third spot and held fourth until stopping for fuel and new Yokohama tires at one hour and 20 minutes. A 20-second penalty for no goggles over the eyes of a crewmember holding the fire bottle put Said out at the back of the pack. An off-course excursion brought him back into the pits only a few laps later to clear the grill. Ten minutes later Said was off the track again with no fuel pressure. A quick check by Said showed nothing apparently wrong and luckily the M3 restarted and Said was back in the race four laps down. Proving just as good a driver as a mechanic, Said set a GT-class race record of 1:23.502 on lap 90 for Team PTG's fourth race-lap record in a row.
The No. 10 Team PTG M3 of Niclas Jönsson and substitute driver Peter Cunningham equaled the car's best finish of the year - a fourth, finishing four seconds behind the third-place Porsche.
The American Le Mans Series moves on to Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, in Monterey, Calif. for round seven on Sunday, September 9.
Boris Said, driver of No. 6 PTG M3 GTR:
"Hans did a great job, but unfortunately we had a mistake in the pits that cost us a lap and then it snow-balled after it got us in the back and I got a little impatient and went off. We had to stop again to clear the grill of grass. I was moving up and knew we had a third-place car, but I lost fuel pressure and the car shut off like a light switch. I kept working with it and it finally restarted. We had the fastest car out there today, but that does not always win you the race."
Hans Stuck, driver of No. 6 PTG BMW M3 GTR:
"Everything was fine in the beginning of the race, but my car began to get extremely loose so I had to be conservative to make it to the half-way point of the race. We had softened up the front anti-roll bar between warm-up and the race and maybe that was not the right thing to do. We put on a harder compound tire for Boris."
Niclas Jönsson, driver of No. 10 PTG M3 GTR:
"I was a little too conservative in the first 45 minutes of my stint as we were concerned about our tire compound choice being too soft. I think I could have pushed harder. I had a very close call on the front straight with the No. 45 Viper after it spun right in front of me, but I missed it, so maybe the luck of the No. 10 M3 GTR is changing. In fact, I got the whole stint in and that feels good."
Peter Cunningham, driver of No. 10 PTG M3 GTR:
"It is a pleasure to be back behind the wheel of another unbelievable Team PTG M3. This new GTR has improved in every department. I spent most of my stint figuring out the car and by the time I was happy it seemed that the edge was off the tires. I know I could have caught the Porsche ahead of me at the end for third, but I had a few bad deals in traffic and he did an excellent job. For sure I will have the necessary experience to do the job the next time."
Tom Milner, owner of Prototype Technology Group:
"I certainly hope we will not have as worse a pit-stop performance anywhere else as we had here today. Our bad stop started a chain reaction that put Boris in a position that he had to catch up and he went off. We have only ourselves to blame for today. There is some consolation in another race record and that proves we are fast; but we need to keep it together until the end."
Tom Salkowsky, motorsports manager, BMW of North America, LLC:
"Another 1-2 finish and a very good weekend for BMW - as well as another significant step towards the manufacturer's and driver's championships. I knew Boris could drive, but I didn't know he had such mechanical skills. He got the No. 6 M3 back to the pits after it quit on track with a fuel problem and then went out and set fast race lap. At the end of the race the No. 10 M3 just did not have enough to catch the third place Porsche."