BRASELTON, Ga. (October 6, 2001) - In front an audience of an estimated 58,000 fans, BMW completed its sweep of the 2001 American Le Mans Series GT titles with its 1-2 finish today in the fourth annual 1000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the...
BRASELTON, Ga. (October 6, 2001) - In front an audience of an estimated 58,000 fans, BMW completed its sweep of the 2001 American Le Mans Series GT titles with its 1-2 finish today in the fourth annual 1000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the final race of the 2001 American Le Mans Series. BMW added the team and driver's championships to its tally, after clinching the manufacturer's crown at the previous California event.
Marked by 10 caution periods, the race required proper strategy, smart driving and excellent pit work. Rising to this challenge, team owner Tom Milner -- like any great conductor -- orchestrated BMW Team PTG to victory in the closing stages of the race, every member of the team playing his or her part perfectly under the precise direction of the 30-year veteran.
Bill Auberlen, Boris Said and Hans Stuck drove their Yokohama-sponsored No. 6 Team PTG BMW M3 GTR to BMW's sixth win of the year, covering 360 laps in 9 hours and 17:07 minutes around the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit. The trio finished one lap ahead of the second place No. 43 BMW Motorsport M3 GTR of Dirk Müller and Jörg Müller. Jörg Müller captured the ALMS GT driver's crown with this finish.
Dirk Müller set a new race record of 1:23.163 on lap 71. The No. 42 BMW Motorsport M3 GTR of JJ Lehto, Fredrik Ekblom and Karl Wendlinger finished fourth, while the No. 10 Team PTG M3 GTR of Niclas Jönsson, Brian Cunningham and David Murry retired on lap 136 with a driveshaft failure.
In winning the last six races, and setting race records in seven of the eight rounds, BMW claimed the 2001 ALMS manufacturer's championship, the first in the ALMS series and the fifth in GT competition since 1995. BMW Motorsport and BMW Team PTG placed first and third in the team championship, earning the fifth GT title for a BMW team since '95. BMW Motorsport drivers Jörg Müller and JJ Lehto finished 1-2 in the driver's championship, giving a BMW driver the fifth GT driver's crown since 1995. Boris Said, Dirk Müller, Fredrik Ekblom and Hans Stuck ended the season fifth through eight.
BMW Motorsport debuted the first V8-powered BMW M3 GTR at the 12 Hours of Sebring (Fla.) in March. In July, at the Grand Prix of Sonoma (Calif.) at Sears Point Raceway four potent M3 GTRs, in the hands of BMW Motorsport and BMW Team PTG, finished 1-2-3-4. This began a win streak that continued on to Portland, Ore., (Team PTG, Said/Stuck), Bowmanville, Ont., Canada (BMW Motorsport, Lehto/J. Müller), Lexington, Ohio (BMW Motorsport, Lehto/J. Müller), Monterey, Calif. (BMW Motorsport, Lehto/J. Müller) and the final victory in Braselton, Ga., by Team PTG.
Bill Auberlen, driver, No. 6 PTG M3 GTR:
"Who do you owe this win to? The list is so long. First the Team PTG crew, everyone from BMW of North America, Yokohama - everything and everyone played a part. The M3 GTR is a masterpiece - it screamed the same perfect note from beginning to end. The team? Not one mistake. I had to pit for fuel close to the end and to ensure the victory we put on new Yokohamas."
Boris Said, driver, No. 6 PTG M3 GTR:
"We stuck to our plan and executed it. That is what you need to win an endurance race. We were conservative in traffic and the M3 was good enough to run hard at the end. These races usually come down to mistakes - you try not to make any and take advantage when others do."
Hans Stuck, driver, No. 6 PTG M3 GTR:
"Unbelievable! Another long distance win for me - two Le Mans, three Sebrings and now the Petit Le Mans - I am very proud. My co-drivers, Bill and Boris did the majority of the work, but I am happy to have done my share."
Tom Milner, owner, BMW Team PTG:
"Next to Sebring, the Petit Le Mans is probably the most important endurance race in North America and I am very proud of everyone associated with Team PTG. A great finish for the season and it looks like we are invited to Le Mans. I can't say enough about Yokohama who has supported us for seven years."
Tom Salkowsky, motorsports manager, BMW of North America, LLC:
"As we've stated for decades, Motorsport is an essential ingredient for BMW and the M Brand. This season exemplifies the strength and determination of every member of the BMW racing family. Even though the 2001 season was shortened, the work and effort demonstrated by both BMW teams was superb. Launching the new M3 GTR is a notable milestone, but sweeping the manufacturer's, team and driver's championships is truly an accomplishment all team members and BMW employees can be proud of."