Gearbox Failures Bring an Early End to BMW Team PTG's American Le Mans Series Return Sebring, Fla. - March 18, 2006-- A day of problems ultimately combined with gearbox failures to cause the retirement of both BMW Team PTG M3s from the 54th...
Gearbox Failures Bring an Early End to BMW Team PTG's American Le Mans Series Return
Sebring, Fla. - March 18, 2006-- A day of problems ultimately combined with gearbox failures to cause the retirement of both BMW Team PTG M3s from the 54th annual 12 Hours of Sebring before the 10-hour mark. The No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 of Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand and Ian James completed 197 laps, retiring from the race after 9 hours and 45 minutes. The No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 of Justin Marks, Bryan Sellers and Martin Jensen retired after 124 laps, just past the four hour mark.
"Of course BMW races to win, but we also race because it is part of everything BMW does - win or not," said Larry Koch, BMW of North America's Motorsport Manager "The brand was founded on competition. BMW Team PTG has won just less than half of the races they have entered for us and, while we did not win today, the team is an integral part of our successful motorsports history. We have no doubt that success is in our near future".
The first hour of the race went well with starting drivers Bill Auberlen (No. 21) and Justin Marks (No. 22) running in solid top-10 positions after electing to give up their 7th and 14th qualifying positions to change tire compounds and start at the rear of the 16-car GT2 field. The second hour of the race proved costly, especially for the No. 21 M3. Second-stint driver Joey Hand lost the right front wheel some 20 laps after he entered the car. The resulting damage to the brakes and suspension ultimately cost the team 13 laps during two long pit stops for repairs.
Bryan Sellers drove the second stint in the No. 22 M3. Running in the 6th position, he pitted on lap 72 for fuel and tires - unfortunately, just as the caution flag waved. Caught in the pits while closed, the crew was able to service the car, but lost almost two laps while the field circulated behind the safety car.
With the first quarter of the race complete the No. 21 M3 had rejoined the race last in class. The No. 22 M3 continued the chase from the sixth position. Martin Jensen drove the third stint, losing three more laps during a long pit stop to change brake pads. Marks took over, but on lap 124 gearbox failure ended the day for the No. 22 M3.
Ian James drove the No. 21 M3 for the third stint, handing the controls back to Auberlen at the four hour mark. Auberlen pitted for Hand on lap 116, but, within minutes of the retirement of the No. 22 M3, the No. 21 M3 was in the paddock with an identical transmission failure. With a replacement fitted Hand rejoined the race. Auberlen took over for the next stint, but was forced to retire on lap 197 when the same transmission problem occurred.