BMW put Texas behind, heads to Portland

FORT WORTH, Tex. (Sept. 3, 2000) The American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Texas was a tough race for BMW. The 2.324-mile Texas Motor Speedway road course took its toll as both BMW V12 LMR cars experienced difficulties...

FORT WORTH, Tex. (Sept. 3, 2000) The American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Texas was a tough race for BMW. The 2.324-mile Texas Motor Speedway road course took its toll as both BMW V12 LMR cars experienced difficulties during Saturday's two-hour 45-minute race. Jean-Marc Gounon of France and Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif., finished fifth after problems in traffic that forced pitstops for repairs. A clutch problem and contact with another car slowed the No. 42 V12, driven by JJ Lehto of Finland and Jorg Muller of Germany. They finished fourth. BMW Team PTG, with sponsorship from Flextronics International, Level One and Yokohama, finished sixth and seventh in the GT class, hampered by record temperatures, high track banking and debris that taxed the team's tires. (The team wasn't alone, as other manufacturers experienced tire problems.) Brian Cunningham of Danville, Ky., and Nic Jonsson of Aliso Viejo, Calif., started eighth and raced in fourth place for much of the race in the No. 10 BMW M3. They finished sixth after losing second gear. Hans Stuck of Austria and Johannes van Overbeek of Danville, Calif., started ninth in the No. 7 M3, moved to fifth at the start of the race, but finished seventh, slowed by mechanical problems. "It just wasn't our weekend," said Tom Salkowsky, motorsport manager for BMW of North America, Inc. "We knew going in that this track wasn't ideal for BMW. But hats off to the team. The drivers endured 150-plus degrees in the car and the team worked all Friday night to get an engine repaired. The best thing we can do is put this in the rear-view mirror and get to Portland." BMW Team PTG owner Tom Milner is also looking forward to the next race. "Obviously, it was not our race," he said of the Texas event. "We had a total of four flat tires, so of course that puts you behind. One of the flat tires ruined our system for the cooling system for the differential so we had to slow down in order to save the differential. Portland is a different race track and it won't be quite as bad there for us because of the straighaways here for us. We'll take it one at a time and see what we can do." Jonsson, who drove the first and final stints in the No. 10 M3, said the team gave him a solid race setup. "We had a pretty good race car. We had one of the fastests car in the infield, but coming onto the banking and the front stretch, we lost too much to the Porsches," he said. "But what killed us was the first cut tire because we had a prototype car slide into us and cut the tire on the third or fourth lap of the race." Van Overbeek drove the first hour in the No. 7 M3, then handed over to veteran Stuck, who double-stinted and drove the final hour and 45 minutes. Despite the high temperatures, Stuck said the race was "too short" for him. "It was a frustrating race," van Overbeek said. "But both Hans and I bear the heat and Hans did a great job. I'm happy that we even finished with the circumstances." Both BMW teams are now en route to Portland. The DecisionPoint Applications Rose City Grand Prix is scheduled to start at noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT) on Sunday, Sept. 10. It will be televised on live NBC Sports from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will broadcast live on Sept. 9 and 10.

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Series ALMS