Grand-Am Road Racing press release
GRAND-AM Racer Paul Dalla Lana Wins 50th BMW Sports Trophy
Canadian Becomes First North American in More Than 10 Years to Win Prestigious Award
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 28, 2011) –BMW drivers and teams achieved many great things in North American sports car racing in 2011, but one North American driver accomplished what few have done before.
Canadian driver Paul Dalla Lana was awarded the 50th BMW Sports Trophy – which recognizes the world’s most successful BMW privateer – in an awards ceremony in the Double Cone building at the BMW Welt in Munich, Germany on Saturday night.
Dalla Lana won the 2011 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class championship with one victory and five podium results in the 10-race season, and was also in mathematical contention for the Rolex Series GT title going into the season finale on the strength of two victories. He competed in both series with Turner Motorsport.
Dalla Lana came out on top in a field of 235 participants for the BMW Sports Trophy from around the world, the largest field in the history of the award. He became the first GRAND-AM driver to win the award, and was the first North American winner since Peter Cunningham in 2000.
“The whole season and the whole year has been very unexpected and very rewarding,” said Dalla Lana. “This is just icing on the cake to get acknowledged by the manufacturer in a field that is as deep as that across the world. It’s something else. I’m really just enjoying the moment and very appreciative of it.”
The honor came extremely early in Dalla Lana’s racing career, as he just completed his third season of racing altogether and his second year in GRAND-AM. He received the award and a check for 30,000 Euros from BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt.
“Congratulations to Paul Dalla Lana,” Marquardt said. “He caused a sensation in several classes in the GRAND-AM series, in which he was a regular on the podium. It is no coincidence that a driver from Canada tops our privateer standings this year. The interest in motorsport across the Atlantic is immense, and the drivers in the North American series are also well aware that driving a BMW car significantly increases their chances.”
Turner Motorsport owner Will Turner knows about BMW’s record of success as well as anybody, as he has fielded BMW machinery for several years as an owner and driver and has many victories and championship trophies to show for it. However, the BMW Sports Trophy is something that had eluded him and his team until now.
“I finished third in 2006 (as a driver) and that was a great season for me,” said Turner. “That was the highlight. I didn’t think we’d ever be able to win it, so being better than that was awesome, but more importantly was the recognition by BMW Motorsport.
“Everybody from the director to the mechanics on other teams knew who Turner Motorsport was. They knew about GRAND-AM. They must have mentioned GRAND-AM and Continental Tire 15 times on stage. They had pictures of our Rolex car and video from the race season on the big TV when they were giving Paul his trophy. It was like a Turner Motorsport/GRAND-AM commercial being shown in Germany. For them to do that, it means that we’re important. It means that GRAND-AM is important to BMW.”
Turner and Dalla Lana have already begun preparations toward the 2012 season, which kicks off on the final weekend in January with the GRAND-AM 200 for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona for the Rolex Series.
“I have Paul more excited than ever about moving forward and more excited about the 24 now,” Turner said. “This has given us some energy. This is a great honor and now we’re fired up to see what we can do and hopefully go for another championship next year. We’re going to run two M3s for the 24. Our GS program is going to be the same that it was in 2011. I can’t announce the driver lineup for the Rolex race, but it’s going to be a very good one. It’s going to be a very strong driver lineup, the strongest that we’ve had for sure.”
“I’m sure it just put the bulls-eye firmly on me with everyone else, which is not exactly a feeling that I’m used to and totally relishing, but for us in 2012, we’re back to defend in Continental and we’re back to take a step forward in Rolex,” Dalla Lana added. “We were challenging to the last race for the championship in Rolex and this year we have to set our goals firmly on winning it. I’ll be back with (co-driver) Bill Auberlen again, so with Bill and the Turner team, I think we’ve got every opportunity to achieve those goals.”