Bill Auberlen set the fastest GT race lap en route to a second-place finish in the Six Hours of The Glen, the eighth race in the 2012 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Auberlen (Redondo Beach, Calif.) combined with Paul Dalla Lana (Toronto) and Billy Johnson (San Clemente, Calif.) for the podium finish on the 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Dalla Lana drove first, starting the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 from ninth on the GT grid. Johnson drove the second stint, followed by Dalla Lana, then Auberlen, who raced up to third place. Johnson returned to lead the class for two laps during the fourth hour before handing back to Auberlen from third.
Auberlen gained second with just 30 minutes remaining, closed to less than a second behind the leader and set the fastest GT lap, one minute 51.274 seconds at an average speed of 109.999 mph. But lapped traffic allowed the class winner to stay ahead, leaving Auberlen a close second.
"Every time he got slowed down by lapped traffic, I got a big run on him and then I got slowed down by the same lapped traffic. One clear shot through and I could have gone by! We were side by side a few times; it was great racing right up until the very end," Auberlen said.
He noted the team strategy played perfectly.
"If ever we made a schedule before a race, this was the one. Normally things deviate from the plan in a six-hour race, but it went flawlessly, not an extra second in the pits, driver changes were perfect, every driver did a perfect job. This is what it took to finish on the podium. It went exactly to plan."
But the intense competition and hot weather made the final stint a grueling one.
"Going into the last stop, time was so critical, we couldn't put drink bottles in the car or change the cool suit. Everything started to overheat – the cool suit water turned red-hot, the drink bottles were empty and it was all I could do to not melt myself in the car and just will my way to the finish," Auberlen said.
"I'm in a car three days a week and that's the best [fitness] training you could ever have. And my desire to win is so high, I'll push my own physical limits to a new level, trying to achieve a victory. It's that important to my life. Setting the fast lap late in the stint, hot as can be, with used tires, that's how bad I wanted to reel this guy in, to overtake him. I was putting everything I had into it."
The Watkins Glen performance gave Auberlen his 178th podium finish and 77th fastest race lap in a winning career that has spanned 25 years. He continues to set the pace, with four podiums in his last four GT races, including a win, two seconds and a third-place finish.
"To have a career this long and this good, with my desire to win higher than it ever was, is great! I live to go to the race track now more than I ever did," he said.
Source: Bill Auberlen media