Munich/Portland. BMW Motorsport led most of Sunday's American Le Mans Series GT race at Portland International Raceway, but pitstops during a late-race caution period left the team third and fourth. JJ Lehto (FIN) started the No. 42 BMW M3 GTR...
Munich/Portland. BMW Motorsport led most of Sunday's American Le Mans Series GT race at Portland International Raceway, but pitstops during a late-race caution period left the team third and fourth.
JJ Lehto (FIN) started the No. 42 BMW M3 GTR second in class, but dropped to fourth after the first hour of the two-hour 45-minute race when the hot, slick 1.944-mile track took its toll on tires. Jörg Müller (D) took the second stint and raced in second and third position until the final caution period with 20 minutes remaining. The team took advantage of the caution to change tires and return Lehto to the wheel, but the remaining time was too short to improve on third place.
Fredrik Ekblom (S) started fourth in the No. 43 GTR, but his first driving stint was short. The team elected to change drivers during an early caution, just 15 minutes into the race. Dirk Müller (D) took over, took the class lead after 50 minutes of the race and held the lead until he pitted at the 90-minute mark. Ekblom drove the final stint and held the class lead until the last caution period, when he pitted for tires. He returned to the track in fourth place and held the position to the checkered flag.
BMW Team PTG drivers Hans-J Stuck (D) and Boris Said (USA) won the GT class in the No. 6 BMW M3 GTR and their teammates Bill Auberlen (USA) and Niclas Jönsson (S) finished eighth in class in the No. 10 GTR after retiring with a gearbox problem.
BMW Motorsport team manager Charly Lamm: "Our BMWs 42 and 43 were in first and third position, respectively, until 20 minutes from the end of the race, and there was a comfortable gap to the cars which were following us. The full-couse yellow at that moment brought us into a no-way-out situation: We needed new tires for the sprint to the finish, but we sacrificed our track position and we could not gain it back. The positive thing is we could finish and score points."
JJ Lehto #42: "The most important thing for us is not to win all the races, but to stay ahead of the leading Porsche. And we're third today, behind a Porsche. That's not good enough."
Jörg Müller #42: "I was quite [vulnerable] at the end because we didn't have any air in the car. The driver cooling system failed after five or six laps and it was really exhausting in the car."
Fredrik Ekblom #43: "It was obviously not so good to finish fourth. I was in the lead almost all of my last stint, the car was good and everything worked fine, but the last yellow flag situation didn't go our way. But we'll come back fighting."
Dirk Müller #43: "We had a good car to win the race, we had the lead for more 50 per cent of the race and we had really great potential with Fredrik to win it. We have to look in the future, but I'm really disappointed to finish fourth." <pre>
leading GT results:
1. Boris Said (USA), Hans Stuck (D), BMW M3 GTR, 121 laps 2. Lucas Luhr (D), Sascha Massen (D), Porsche GT3 RS, -1 lap 3. JJ Lehto (FIN), Jörg Müller (D), BMW M3 GTR, -1 lap 4. Dirk Müller (D), Fredrik Ekblom (S), BMW M3 GTR, - 1 lap 5. Randy Pobst (USA), Christian Menzel (D), Porsche GT3 RS, - 3 laps 6. Timo Bernard (D), Johnny Mowlem (GB), Porsche GT3 RS, - 3 laps