BMW Team PTG M3s Ready for Houston and Mid-Ohio Woodcliff Lake, N J - May 8, 2006-- Following two test days at two different tracks in less than one week, BMW Team PTG is prepared for the American Le Mans Series to restart after a two- month ...
BMW Team PTG M3s Ready for Houston and Mid-Ohio
Woodcliff Lake, N J - May 8, 2006-- Following two test days at two different tracks in less than one week, BMW Team PTG is prepared for the American Le Mans Series to restart after a two- month break following the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring in March. The team recently completed a successful test at Summit Point Raceway, in Summit Point, West Virginia, on April 25th and quickly followed that with a second test day at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 2.
The next two weekends will see the BMW M3s race on the new 1.7-mile street circuit at the Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston, Texas on May 12th, followed by the May 21st American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio at the newly resurfaced Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. While Houston is a new venue, PTG has seen great success at Mid-Ohio. A BMW Team PTG M3 was on the pole and won the GT class in both Rolex Sports Car Series races at the venerable Ohio circuit in the two previous years.
"The test at Summit was to ensure that the gearbox failures we experienced at Sebring were fixed," said PTG boss Tom Milner. "We were forced to retire both M3s there, so our season truly begins in Houston. I know our drivers are optimistic for a good result, but I expect tough conditions and we are racing at night. The tight circuit and short straights may lessen the fact that we have the smallest engine in the field, but we still don't have the torque that displacement brings. It is the torque that pulls you from corner to corner on a short course."
Joey Hand, who will co-drive the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 with Bill Auberlen, said "At Summit Point we did try some new construction Yokohama tires and we were very close to our quick times from previous years. It was a good sign that we are making progress. At Mid-Ohio we got in a few hours before the rain came. With no rubber down, the new surface was very slippery in the dry. In the rain it was like ice. We were able to try Yokohama's new rain tire so we are better prepared in case it turns wet. In 2001, the original Houston circuit gave me my first Atlantic win of that season and was the catalyst to a streak that won me the Rookie of the Year title. Hopefully, Houston can do the same for BMW this year."
Justin Marks, who will team up with newly signed PTG driver Martin Jensen in the No. 22 M3, said "There are two parts to Mid-Ohio - the tight, twisty parts favor the M3, but the long straights favor our competitors. I did score both the Rolex GT and Grand Am Cup poles for BMW at Mid- Ohio last season, but it is one of those tracks that is difficult to get the set-up exact. Even on my pole laps I always felt I had left some time behind. The new surface is certainly an x-factor this year. Historically, we have had a hard time getting grip over the concrete patches so the new surface could prove to make a big difference for us."
Practice and qualifying for the Lone Star Grand Prix will be held on Thursday, May 11 with the two-hour-and-forty-five-minute race scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m. local time Friday night. The American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio weekend begins on May 19th with the race scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m. on May 21st.
2006 marks the 11th season of competition for the BMW Team PTG M3s and the first full season of ALMS competition since 2001. In 10 years, BMW Team PTG has won a total of 53 races in both sprint and endurance racing series and 14 sports car racing championships. In 2005, BMW Team PTG won 7 of 13 Rolex Sports Car Series races entered.