BMW signs Muller and Ekblom

A German and a Northerner will be alternating behind the wheel of each of the factory team's two BMW M3s contesting the GT class of the 2001 American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Next to the well-oiled duo of Jorg Muller (D) and Finn JJ Lehto, new ...

A German and a Northerner will be alternating behind the wheel of each of the factory team's two BMW M3s contesting the GT class of the 2001 American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Next to the well-oiled duo of Jorg Muller (D) and Finn JJ Lehto, new drivers Dirk Muller (D) and Fredrik Ekblom of Sweden have just signed with BMW for the endurance races of this sports car series.

Ekblom (30) can draw on experience both in American racing and with the BMW 3 Series. He began competing in Formula racing in the USA in 1992, returning to his home country in 1998, where he won the Swedish Super Touring Car Championship in a BMW 320i. He was runner-up in 1999 (on BMW) and 2000.

His new partner, Dirk Muller, is the title-holder in the ALMS GT class. The 25-year-old German was winner of the 1998 Porsche Carrera Cup and claimed four class wins in last year's ALMS.

Former Formula One driver JJ Lehto (34) and ex-Formula 3000 European Champion Jorg Muller (31) both gleaned their first experiences with BMW in 1995 - the Finn driving the McLaren BMW F1 GTR to victory in Le Mans, and the German in the BMW 318is Super Touring Car. They have shared triumphs in the open BMW V12 LMR, namely the sports car's first victory in Sebring (USA) in 1999 as well as its two final wins in Charlotte (USA) and Silverstone (GB) in 2000.

The race squad under the management of Charly Lamm will again be drawn from BMW and Schnitzer Motorsport. "This team and these drivers," says BMW Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger with delight, "are top-notch. In terms of manpower, we have the best prerequisite for making our M3 class-leader in America."

BMW is preparing the race version of the new M3 in Munich. In all, four cars are being produced - two of them destined for the American BMW Team PTG, which already has an acclaimed driver in Hans-Joachim Stuck.

"The M3 is a new evolution and we're working flat out on it," says BMW Motorsport Director Dr. Mario Theissen. "However, due to our somewhat late decision," he adds, "we won't be able to engage this car in the first race on March 4th."

-BMW

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Series ALMS
Drivers Dirk Müller , Hans-Joachim Stuck , Gerhard Berger , Jorg Muller , Mario Theissen , Charly Lamm , JJ Lehto