St. Pete: BMW Rahal Letterman Racing preview

BMW RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TEAM MAKES QUICK TURNAROUND FOR ROUND 2 AT ST. PETERSBURG Woodcliff Lake, N.J. -- March 31, 2009... The BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3s return to Florida for Round Two of the 2009 American Le Mans Series at this...

BMW RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TEAM MAKES QUICK TURNAROUND FOR ROUND 2 AT ST. PETERSBURG

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. -- March 31, 2009... The BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3s return to Florida for Round Two of the 2009 American Le Mans Series at this weekend's Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg for the first of two consecutive street races.

Following the retirement of both cars at the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring, the team has spent long hours during the ten days between events diagnosing the problems that struck both cars, and implementing modifications.

"Obviously, our extensive pre-season testing did not uncover this specific area of weakness, but Sebring certainly did," said Martin Birkmann, BMW of North America Motorsports Manager. "Ultimately, prop-shaft failure caused the retirement of both cars, but the failure was not identical to what we experienced in qualifying on the No. 92 M3. We believe we have made the necessary modifications and are looking forward to a much better result at St. Pete."

St. Pete is the first of two consecutive temporary street circuits the team will face in the next few weeks (Long Beach, California is next) and the first ever for the team with the new 2009 BMW M3 coupes. The concrete barrier-lined circuit twists along Tampa Bay on the east side of the city, with 14 corners that put a premium on handling and braking.

"We learned a lot about the BMW M3 at Sebring and in working with BMW, we have continued to make improvements on the cars for St. Pete," said team principal Bobby Rahal. "We feel the track suits our car well, as do our Dunlop tires, and our drivers feel good about the track so we are anticipating a better weekend."

Two one-hour practice sessions begin the weekend on Friday, with qualifying scheduled for 2:15 p.m. The one-hour-and-fifty-five-minute race is scheduled to start at 1:20 p.m. Saturday and will be broadcast live on ABC television beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.

-credit: rlr/bmw

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Series ALMS
Drivers Bobby Rahal