Bill Auberlen scored two race wins in one afternoon, topping both the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GT class and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., on March 5. Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., combined with Paul Dalla Lana of Toronto for the double victory. They are only the second driver duo to win two Grand-Am races in the same day. (Forest Barber and Terry Borcheller were the first, in 2003.)
Auberlen and Dalla Lana competed first in the Rolex Series race, driving the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, then in the Continental Challenge race, behind the wheel of the No. 96 Turner Motorsport M3. Dalla Lana, starting his third season in professional sports cars, drove the first stint in each race, with Auberlen following.
"It was awesome for Paul," Auberlen said. "He's the whole reason this thing is happening and I just want to thank him for making it all possible for us because we all know without him, there's no us. His year is going so well; he has improved tremendously as a driver. He's fast, he gives me the car up front and that makes my job much easier."
The Homestead race was Auberlen's 100th in the Rolex Series. He credits the win to the team's strategy, which favored consistent pace over outright speed.
"It was my 100th Rolex Series start and I wanted it to be good," he said. "The setup was key to the car and the Turner engineers were very smart about how to approach it. It was all about making the car last through the entire stint, not about getting the fastest lap. We didn't have the fastest race lap, but we had the most consistent car. We had one of the faster averages, which got us to victory lane first."
Auberlen and Dalla Lana went straight from the Rolex Series victory podium to the starting grid for the Continental Challenge race. And then repeated the winning performance, this time with Auberlen also notching a record fastest race lap. The win, together with a podium finish at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway in January, gave Auberlen and Dalla Lana the lead in 2011 driver championship standings after two races.
Auberlen praised the Turner Motorsport crew for fine-tuning their M3 from podium finisher to winner: "Back at the shop between Daytona and Homestead, they completely redid the car to find some issues it had. They took care of those issues 100 per cent. They fixed it, we came back, we had an awesome car and we just got to the front and ran away."
In both races, Auberlen built more than a 20-second lead over the competition, but was slowed by late caution flags that allowed the field to catch up. With strong cars and crew, he simply did it again.
"In both cases, we were in such good shape that we were able to get a 20-plus-second lead. With not much time to go, both times, we got a yellow flag and that deflated our sails a little bit. When you've got a big lead like that, the last thing you want is a full-course caution to come out and bunch everybody up," he explained. "But we put our heads down and went racing again when it went green, and did the same job again – went out, ran away and won."
Bill Auberlen has driven BMW cars in more races than any other driver in the world. He has won six professional auto-racing championships, four with BMW power. He has competed in 423 professional races to date, 267 in BMWs. His results include 81 race victories, 163 podium finishes, 55 pole positions, 73 fastest race laps and 105 records.