Laguna Seca: BMW Team PTG qualifying report

Kelly Collins Scores First GT Pole for F1 Air M3; BMW Team PTG M3s Will Start 1st, 3rd and 10th in Road and Track 250 Kelly Collins, driving the No. 17 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3, continued to have the measure of the GT field as he scored the pole...

Kelly Collins Scores First GT Pole for F1 Air M3;
BMW Team PTG M3s Will Start 1st, 3rd and 10th in Road and Track 250

Kelly Collins, driving the No. 17 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3, continued to have the measure of the GT field as he scored the pole in today's 15-minute qualifying session for tomorrow's Road and Track 250. Fastest in yesterday's practice session as well, Collins' 1:32.555 minute lap around the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca circuit was set on his fifth lap, just after the session was restarted after qualifying was halted to remove a car off in the gravel. Collins pole was the second in a row for BMW Team PTG this season.

Ian James set the third fastest time in the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 (1:33.426). Tom Milner's No. 16 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3 developed mechanical problems. Milner was credited with the 10th starting position after posting a 1:34.045 minute lap.

The No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 was withdrawn from competition after a morning practice crash. A dejected Joey Hand said, "I overtook a Porsche going into the Corkscrew. Unfortunately, he went too deep under braking, hit me in the right rear and spun me into the wall." Hand will co-drive the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 with Chris Gleason and James. Bill Auberlen will join Milner and Justin Marks in the No. 16 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3.

In past years, the historic Monterey, California circuit has been the site of numerous BMW victories, including two previous BMW Team PTG GT victories. Sweeping Laguna Seca's podium in 1997, the BMW Team PTG M3s finished 1-2-3 at the season-ending VISA SportsCar Championships to win BMW the GTS-3 manufacturer's championship. As importantly, a second-place finish by Bill Auberlen and Boris Said won Auberlen his first GT driver's title. The next year, on a surprisingly rainy weekend, BMW Team PTG again reigned supreme over the GT class. A second-place finish by Peter Cunningham and Mark Simo won Simo the driver's championship and BMW the manufacturer's title. In 2000, "brothers" Hans Stuck and Boris Said took the Laguna Seca win. The race featured one of Stuck's many great BMW performances, as he charged through the field from his eighth starting position to second before handing the M3 to Said for the finish.

The 250-kilometer Road and Track 250 is scheduled to begin at 12:00 PM PDT tomorrow and will televised live on Speed Channel.

Background:
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.

KELLY COLLINS, DRIVER NO. 17 BMW TEAM PTG F1 AIR M3 (first):
"My pole lap was not my fastest as my tires were not completely up to temperature, but I got a bit blocked on the next one. I thought my chief competition would be the No. 21 M3, but unfortunately it had to be withdrawn. It was up to us to do the job and we did it. This is my first GT pole for BMW Team PTG and that feels great."

IAN JAMES, DRIVER NO. 22 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (third):
"Unfortunately, I was on a very good lap when the black flag came out. Nevertheless, BMW Team PTG ended up with two M3s in the top-three."

TOM MILNER, DRIVER NO. 16 BMW TEAM PTG F1 AIR M3 (10th):
"The M3 was good at the beginning of the session. I pitted for the black flag, but when I restarted I heard a noise from underneath. I think we have a driveshaft or gearbox problem. We'll be ready for the race."

-bmw/ptg-

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