BMW and Auberlen Back On Top of GT Field; BMW Team PTG M3s Will Start 1st, 2nd, 5th and 12th in Grand American 400 Qualifying for tomorrow's Grand American 400, defending Rolex Sports Car GT Champion Bill Auberlen scored his first GT pole of the...
BMW and Auberlen Back On Top of GT Field;
BMW Team PTG M3s Will Start 1st, 2nd, 5th and 12th in Grand American 400
Qualifying for tomorrow's Grand American 400, defending Rolex Sports Car GT Champion Bill Auberlen scored his first GT pole of the season today. Driving the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3, he recorded a 1:40.893 minute lap around the 2.8-mile, 21-turn California Speedway road course to lead BMW Team PTG in the team's best qualifying effort of the season. All four BMW Team PTG drivers recorded their best starting positions today.
Defending race champion, Tom Milner qualified the No. 16 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3 second (1:41.589) for an all-BMW M3 front row in the GT class.
Chris Gleason will start the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 fifth, posting a time of 1:42.774 minutes. RJ Valentine, in the No. 17 F1 Air M3, will start 12th (1:44.266).
In the third of three practice sessions leading up to today's qualifying, all four M3s were in the top-10, with the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 of Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand setting the second fastest GT time (1:42.666).
In 2004, BMW Team PTG finished a 10-win season with a 1-2 BMW M3 finish here. Tom Milner, in only his third professional race, and Kelly Collins scored the victory in the No. 16 Team PTG M3. The duo won from the pole and finishing 38 seconds ahead of the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 of Boris Said and Joey Hand.
The 400-kilometer Grand American 400 is scheduled to begin at 1:00 PM PDT tomorrow and will televised live on Speed Channel.
2005 marks the tenth season of competition for BMW M3s of BMW Team PTG and 30th anniversary of BMW of North America's motorsport programs. In nine seasons, BMW Team PTG has won a total of 46 races in both sprint and endurance racing series and 14 sports car racing championships. In 2004, BMW Team PTG swept the Rolex Sports Car Series GT class Manufacturer, Driver and Team Points championships, winning 10 of 12 races.
BILL AUBERLEN, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (first):
"Twice last year, I thought I had a pole but didn't get it because I went out front and allowed my competitors draft me. Today, I picked someone to follow and he pulled me all the way down the front straight. What a difference! We had a bit of a fight, but I got ahead of him coming out of turn two and pulled away in the infield. These tires are the best on the first lap and I had a great first lap. Their performance does fall off during the race so we will continue to work on the balance of our M3 to ensure consistency tomorrow."
TOM MILNER, DRIVER NO. 16 BMW TEAM PTG F1 AIR M3 (second):
"The M3 was very good today. I got held up a little coming onto the straight during my fast lap, so I had to breathe off the throttle a bit. Other than that, everything went well. I don't think that all of our competitors had their fastest drivers in for qualifying. We are ahead now, but, I am sure they will be closer to us in the race. Bill put in a great lap, so I am pleased to be second fastest."
CHRIS GLEASON, DRIVER NO. 22 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (fifth):
"New racing cars always make for a difficult start to the season. We have worked very hard and the results are starting to show. Handling is very important here as the infield is very demanding. You also need the speed on the straights. Today, we had the entire package."
RJ VALENTINE, DRIVER NO. 17 BMW TEAM PTG F1 AIR M3 (12th):
"Even though the M3 has been good in previous races, they have gotten much better. I am very pleased. The infield section feels very good and we are keeping up with the competition on the straights. For me, the best thing is that my confidence in the car is increasing."