Auberlen to Mark 500th Professional Start, Edwards in for Hand.
Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Following disappointing fifth and sixth place finishes at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park three weeks ago, BMW Team RLL heads to Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wis., the site of three BMW Team RLL victories in the past four American Le Mans Series seasons.
The next year, Hand and Dirk Müller repeated as winners. In 2011, the second and third steps of the podium were reached. Last year, Auberlen and Jörg Müller roared back with the victory.
The first five rounds of the 2013 American Le Mans Series have seen the new BMW Z4 GTE race to the GT class victory at both Long Beach and Lime Rock Park. BMW stands second in GT Class Manufacturer points and Dirk Müller has a five point lead in the GT Driver standings.
John Edwards will substitute for Joey Hand in the No. 56 Z4 GTE this weekend as Hand enjoys a week off following an excellent seventh place finish at the inaugural DTM race in Moscow, Russia on August 4th.
Bill Auberlen, co-driving the No. 55 Z4 GTE with Maxime Martin, will celebrate his 500th professional start at Road America as the BMW ace continues to add to one of the most impressive racing resumes in the world.
Auberlen, Edwards and Martin will also compete in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series that will share the bill with the ALMS at Road America. Auberlen and Edwards will also race in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series. The two series will merge to become United Sports Car Racing in 2014.
“We obviously have had good success in the four years at Elkhart Lake,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “I think the fast sweeping corners have always played to one of the strengths of a BMW. Getting through all the circuit’s fast corners; Turns 1, 3, 7, the Carousel, Turns 12, 13 and 14 has been a major reason for our success.
This year the Z4 GTE has shown that it is also a very good handling car. We have been at a deficit on top speed but have been at a deficit on top speed years before with the M3 GT, especially 2009 and 2010, and yet we still won there so it will be interesting to see how we fare.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – “Road America one of my favorite tracks in the world and I will get to race it three times this weekend – ALMS GT, Rolex GT and CTSCC GS. That will be a unique experience for me and my expectation is three first place finishes! 500 professional race starts is a record I will be extremely proud of.”
Maxime Martin, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE –“I’m really excited to discover this classic track. I think it is one of the longest of the year so it will not be easy to learn. As always, I will have the experience of Bill to help me.”
John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – "The last race I ran with BMW Team RLL was at Lime Rock a month ago, but it feels like 6 months! We knew that Lime Rock would suit us, and we capitalized on that with a win. Unfortunately we've been expecting both Mosport and Road America to be tougher tracks for us, so although we're always competing for a win, we know that the competition will be as tough at Road America as they were at Mosport.
My biggest goal is doing what I can to help Dirk maintain the lead in the championship. We will be racing hard to win, but I know we will all have our eye on the big picture with the championship as we enter the second half of the season."
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – “We are now starting the second half of the season and I am still leading the championship which feels great! Road America is one of my favorite race tracks in the world and I am thrilled to come back with our new BMW Z 4 GTE. The track should suit us a bit better than Mosport. John is back to help us out and its going to be a big weekend full of great racing.”
Qualifying and live streaming of the race can be found on ESPN3.com. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. The Orion Energy Systems 245 is scheduled to be broadcast on ABC television at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 11th.