Sebring 12 Hours
Dunlop-Equipped Team Notches 1-2 Finish at Season Opener Race
AKRON, Ohio, March 22, 2011 – For Dunlop Tires and BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL), it doesn’t get any better than a 1-2 finish in the GT Class of the American Le Mans Series/Intercontinental Le Mans Cup 12 Hours of Sebring race on March 19 in Sebring, Fla. Dunlop racing tires provided the traction for the pair of BMW M3 race cars as they raced to a strong finish in the season-opening race.
Dirk Muller, Joey Hand and Andy Prialux co-drove the Number 56 BMW M3 GT to victory, finishing 312 laps of the 3.7-mile, 17-turn Sebring International Raceway. The Number 55 M3, co-driven by Dirk Werner, Bill Auberlen and Augusto Farfus came in second to complete the clean sweep for BMW and Dunlop.
According to Bobby Rahal of BMW Team RLL, “We could not be happier with the start to our season, and Dunlop's hard work in the offseason was a big part of our win. The tire options we had at our disposal allowed us to use different Dunlop compounds as the track changed throughout the day, allowing us to stay ahead of the competition.”
Hand, one of the winning drivers, specifically gave credit to Dunlop, saying, “I want to say thank you to Dunlop. The tires played an important part today and we had this advantage on our side.”
This year’s Sebring success follows the 2010 season performance for the team, which saw the achievement of ALMS team and manufacturer championships.
In the 2010 season, the team captured a race win at Road America and was consistently strong in the nine races of the series. The series races at some of the best tracks in North America, including Sebring, Mid-Ohio, Mosport and Laguna Seca.
Dunlop has been BMW Team RLL’s tire provider since the launch of the M3 GT program in 2009, and the racing tires have been credited for helping the team mature and develop into a consistent performer and winner.
Because most of the ALMS races are lengthy in laps and overall racing time, the teams switch drivers throughout the competition during pit stops. The tires, especially, must be consistent for long runs, and the Dunlops have been praised by the team for their continuing improvement.
According to Dunlop brand general manager Jonathan Lee, “Being a part of the championship team last season was a terrific accomplishment and a solid reflection on the Dunlop brand. Getting off to such a strong start to the 2011 schedule is proof that the improvements in performance are continuing.”
The BMW Team RLL now looks toward the next challenge, the Long Beach Grand Prix, the second race of the 2011 ALMS campaign, which will be held April 16.