Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – BMW Team RLL will bring a streak of three consecutive podium finishes in the first three races of the 2012 season, including a win at the 12 Hours of Sebring, to the July 7th American Le Mans Series Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park, in Lakeville, Conn. Since the team’s 2009 season debut at least one BMW Team RLL M3 has finished on the podium at BMW of North America’s home track. A third place finish in 2009 led to a double podium 2-3 result in 2010. Last year eventual GT driver co-champions Joey Hand and Dirk Müller won the race after starting from the pole and leading every lap.
Often described as a “bull ring”, Lime Rock Park’s 1.5 miles is a fast ride through just seven corners. Only turn three is left-handed. In fact, it will take longer to read this release than Joey Hand’s record setting pole time last year of 50.925 seconds.
Hand and Müller currently stand second in GT driver points following a win (with Jonathan Summerton) at Sebring, a second place finish at Long Beach and a fourth place finish at Laguna Seca in the No. 56 BMW Team RLL M3.
Teammates Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller are coming off a season’s-best finish of third at Laguna Seca in the No. 55 M3. A fourth place finish at Sebring (with Uwe Alzen) and a disappointing 11th at Long Beach has the duo standing fourth in driver points. This will be Müller’s first visit to Lime Rock Park, but he can count on Auberlen who has years of experience and many wins at the Northwest Connecticut circuit. Auberlen is also set to make his 100th ALMS start at the Northeast Grand Prix.
BMW Team RLL completed two test programs in conjunction with tire partner Dunlop during the seven-week break in the ALMS season for teams participating at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first was held at Virginia International Raceway, the site of the four-hour Sept. 15 ALMS at VIR race. A second test was held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, host to the round six Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge on Aug. 4.
“Last year’s race was a great one for us,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “It’s a shame that Bill got hit and delayed as a result, but Joey and Dirk drove a great race and won. It was an important race for us because it was the first race without Scott Roembke in the pits. We missed him, but vowed to get a good result for him and a win was the best possible result. It was also an important victory on our path to winning the championship again. If you look at the results you would have to say there has been a lot of success at Lime Rock either for me as a driver or as an owner and we certainly hope that it remains that way.
Commenting on Bill Auberlen’s 100th ALMS start, he continued, “It’s a great milestone for Bill and shows his competitiveness and longevity. That is a lot of seasons in the ALMS because there are only 9 or 10 races a year. It’s not like there are 35 a season. I really wish him a lot of success this season because he has worked hard for it. The No. 55 car has been singularly unlucky in a lot of races over the last couple of years through no fault of the drivers. I would be really happy to see him win his 100th race.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT –“I’m excited to have the opportunity to get my 100th ALMS start at Lime Rock Park in a BMW M3 for Bobby Rahal. All have played an important role in my career. I think the top of the podium would be the best place to celebrate.”
Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “Lime Rock Park will be a new circuit for me, but I could not be in a better position than to have my co-driver show me around. I am a fast learner and no one knows Lime Rock better than Bill.”
Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “Last season nothing could stop the No. 56 BMW Team RLL M3 at Lime Rock Park. The competition has certainly stepped up their game this season, but we (BMW) still have home field advantage.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “I am looking forward to racing at BMW’s home track again. We are expecting a lot of BMW, Crowne Plaza and Dunlop guests which always gives us special motivation. We won last year’s race and I believe that our BMW Team RLL M3 is going to be strong there again. It’s time to start the second part of our championship run and we are perfectly prepared for it.”
Source: BMW Team RLL