BMW Success at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. (April 2, 2000) -- JJ Lehto of Finland and Jorg Muller of Germany drove the No. 42 BMW V12 LMR to victory in the April 1 American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Charlotte. It was the fifth series win in eight races for BMW...

CONCORD, N.C. (April 2, 2000) -- JJ Lehto of Finland and Jorg Muller of Germany drove the No. 42 BMW V12 LMR to victory in the April 1 American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Charlotte. It was the fifth series win in eight races for BMW Motorsport, which also won the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans. Teammates Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Jean-Marc Gounon of France were fourth in the No. 43 BMW. Both cars competed in the prototype class. BMW Team PTG came close to winning the GT class, as well, in the final ALMS race for the No. 10 BMW M3. Peter Cunningham of West Bend, Wis., and Brian Cunningham of Danville, Ky., notched a close second-place finish in the two-hour 45-minute race. Hans Stuck of Austria and Johannes van Overbeek of Danville, Calif., finished fourth in class in the new No. 6 2001 BMW M3. The team had a tough season opener at Sebring International Raceway on March 18, and had difficulty earlier in the week finding speed on the 2.25-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway road course, which included a temporary chicane. "The team did a phenomenal job," said Tom Salkowsky, motorsport manager for BMW of North America, Inc. "It was kind of bittersweet to see the last of the No. 10 M3, but Brian, Peter and the whole PTG team did a helluva job. And we made big strides in the No. 6 car from where we were two weeks ago." Brian Cunningham started the #10 BMW M3 fifth in class and moved up to third in the first hour. Peter Cunningham then took the wheel, moved to first after one hour, 40 minutes and held the lead until a late-race caution allowed the #51 Porsche to close the gap and pass for the lead in the last few minutes of the race. "It was an awesome race," said Peter Cunningham. "We led for a good while, and if it hadn't been for the last yellow we might have had enough of a gap to maintain our position. But when they came around and got right behind me, then it was only a matter of time. I drove my fanny off trying to get a win for the [No. 10] M3 body in its final showing in the American Le Mans Series, but it was not to be." Brian Cunningham summed it up: "It should have been a win, but I guess the race was about four minutes too long." Hans Stuck started the new 2001 No. 6 BMW M3 last in class (11th), after the team elected to change the car's starting tires. He moved up to fifth during the first hour. Johannes van Overbeek took over and moved up to third, then handed back to Stuck, who held third place until a late pitstop for new tires dropped him back to fourth. "We finished in fourth place, in contention, which was good," Stuck said. "We had a couple of problems like a wheel nut didn't open on the pit stop, another guy hit me and there was an unnecessary pitstop changing tires. Altogether it shows we have the potential." Van Overbeek agreed. "We did much better than qualifying looked," he said. "In the end, it was a great result after a tough start to the year. Hopefully we can build on this and be on the podium for the rest of the year." BMW Team PTG will field two 2001 M3s for the next series race, at the Silverstone circuit in England on May 13. Both cars will have sponsorship from Flextronics International, Level One and Yokohama.

TRIPLE TIME: Peter Cunningham competed in three races during the Charlotte race weekend. In addition to his second- place finish in the American Le Mans Series race, he posted a fifth-place finish in the Speedvision World Challenge GT race and drove from 33rd to third place in the Speedvision World Challenge Touring Car Championship race.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Peter Cunningham , Johannes van Overbeek , Brian Cunningham , JJ Lehto