Birmingham: BMW Team PTG race report

Hand and Marks Drive BMW M3 to Porsche 250 Victory; BMW Team PTG M3s Finish 1st, 3rd, 6th and 7th Birmingham, Ala. - July 31, 2005-- Joey Hand and Justin Marks, driving the No. 16 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3, put on their own driving clinic...

Hand and Marks Drive BMW M3 to Porsche 250 Victory; BMW Team PTG M3s Finish 1st, 3rd, 6th and 7th

Birmingham, Ala. - July 31, 2005-- Joey Hand and Justin Marks, driving the No. 16 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3, put on their own driving clinic in winning the GT class in today's Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park. The win was the second consecutive victory for the duo and the 51st for BMW of North America's M3 racing program. The victory was the fourth of the season for Hand and third of the season for Marks. They completed 89 laps in the two hour-and-forty-five-minute contest, finishing less than one second ahead of the No. 80 Porsche. Winning from the pole, they also collect an $8000.00 Acxiom GT bonus.

Hand moves into a tie for second in Driver Points and Marks moves to fourth. BMW consolidates its hold on second in Manufacturer Points, gaining three points on first.

Ian James and Chris Gleason, driving the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3, finished third. Kelly Collins and RJ Valentine, driving the No. 17 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3, finished sixth and Tom Milner and Bill Auberlen, driving the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 finished seventh.

The race began under bright sunshine and Marks, making a great start from the pole, immediately took control of the 26-car GT field. Kelly Collins, in the No. 17 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3, and Ian James, in the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3, took the second and third positions. Tom Milner, in the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3, followed in fifth.

The four M3s continued to lap smoothly at the front of the field for the opening hour of the race. Only Milner's No. 21 M3 ran into a problem with a spinning competitor causing moderate damage to the front of the No. 21 M3. Marks stayed out front until almost the one-and-one-half hour mark when he pitted under the fifth caution period of the race. Hand entered the M3 on lap 43, in the third position. As a light rain began to fall in closing minutes of the race, Hand took over second from the No. 22 M3 and proceeded to chase down the leader. In the last five minutes of the race he took the lead for the win. James, back in the No. 22 M3 after Gleason's middle-stint, held the third position at the checkered flag. Two laps behind Hand and Marks, Collins brought the No. 17 M3 home sixth. Auberlen finished seventh in the No. 21 M3.

Round nine of the Rolex Sports Car Series, the Comp USA 250 will take place on Aug. 11-12 at Watkins Glen International.

JOEY HAND, DRIVER NO. 16 BMW TEAM PTG F1 AIR M3 (first): "We thought that perhaps the No. 80 Porsche would have to pit for fuel, so I held off just a little. As the laps wound down I got instructions from the pit to press harder. He made a slight mistake and I was able to get the win."

JUSTIN MARKS, DRIVER NO. 16 BMW TEAM PTG F1 AIR M3 (first): "Our strategy was spot on today and the M3 was perfect in the dry or wet. We keep proving that it is very difficult to beat the M3's combination of power, brakes and handling."

IAN JAMES, DRIVER NO. 22 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (third): "Chris had a great drive in the middle of the race and the M3 was in great shape when I got back in for the end. The rain affected our speed for about three laps, but the line dried out quickly. Another great result for BMW."

CHRIS GLEASON, DRIVER NO. 22 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (third): "It is great to be back in the groove and back on the podium. Everything we planned today worked perfectly."

TOM MILNER, OWNER BMW TEAM PTG: "This was certainly the closest race we have had in a long time. Another hard earned win for BMW and an important win for Joey's chances for the Driver Points Championship."

LARRY KOCH, BMW OF NORTH AMERICA MOTORSPORTS MANAGER: "Justin and Joey did a fantastic job today to win our 51st. The close competition, combined with a tight point structure, makes it difficult to gain ground in the championships and I am pleased that we scored important points to move BMW back towards the top."

-bmw-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Kelly Collins , Ian James , Justin Marks , Chris Gleason