Houston: BMW - ALMS spotlight

BMW BANKING ON BRAKING, BALANCE FOR HOUSTON SUCCESS Braselton, Ga. - It didn't take long for a layout of the 1.7-mile, nine-turn street circuit at Reliant Park, site of this week's Lone Star Grand Prix, to catch the collective eye of BMW Team...

BMW BANKING ON BRAKING, BALANCE FOR HOUSTON SUCCESS

Braselton, Ga. - It didn't take long for a layout of the 1.7-mile, nine-turn street circuit at Reliant Park, site of this week's Lone Star Grand Prix, to catch the collective eye of BMW Team PTG.

The short straights and tight turns are ideally suited for the team's two BMW M3s in large part to its balance and braking system, drivers Joey Hand and Justin Marks believe. Having the only car with ABS in the GT2 field, both drivers say that could be enough to help the team earn its first victory in the American Le Mans Series since the 2001 Petit Le Mans.

"I think our BMW will be right up there because we will be able to use all of the M3's braking capabilities and I don't believe there is a car in the field that can outbrake us," said Hand, who will drive in the No. 21 BMW M3 with Bill Auberlen. "Combined with ABS, our brake package is second-to-none. The short straights and tight turns put a premium on handling and braking - not horsepower."

BMW Team PTG is in its first full season of Series competition since 2001. The competition is challenging and deep with the likes of Panoz, Ferrari and Porsche also fielding GT2 teams. But Marks is confident that Houston will mark an early-season turning point for BMW Team PTG.

"The front-engine, rear-wheel drive M3 excels at quick transitions, and our recent testing has shown us that the Performance Friction brake package and newest Yokohama tires are becoming quite a formidable combination," said Marks, who is teaming with Martin Jensen in the No. 22 entry. "With no long straights at Houston our displacement disadvantage will be minimized and give us a good chance to reach the corners first. If that is the case, we will be looking at a very good finish."

The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Lone Star Grand Prix, scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT Friday in Houston. It will be broadcast at 1 p.m. EDT Saturday on CBS Sports, the first of five straight Series events on the network. Qualifying is set for 6:15 p.m. CDT on May 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at www.americanlemans.com, which also will have IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Justin Marks , Martin Jensen