Long Beach: Bill Auberlen race report

Bill Auberlen - Long Beach podium Bill Auberlen made the most of his first race in a BMW-powered Daytona Prototype car, finishing third in the first Rolex Sports Car Series race on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., on April 8. It was the ...

Bill Auberlen - Long Beach podium

Bill Auberlen made the most of his first race in a BMW-powered Daytona Prototype car, finishing third in the first Rolex Sports Car Series race on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., on April 8. It was the Redondo Beach, Calif., driver's third podium in four Long Beach starts.

Auberlen spent only 13 minutes behind the wheel of the No. 3 Southard Motorsports BMW-powered Riley Mk XI prior to race day -- just enough to become familiar with the controls -- and drove a few laps during the pre-race warmup on the 1.968-mile street circuit. Despite his limited seat time, he quickly adapted to the car.

Shane Lewis of Jupiter, Fla., qualified the Southard car seventh on the 26-car grid with a lap of one minute 20.907 seconds, at an average speed of 87.567 mph. He drove the first stint of the 90-minute race, holding ninth place until a caution period at 14m left him in the lead as the cars ahead of him pitted. He stopped for a driver change at 37m and Auberlen took over. He served a penalty assessed during the confusion of the first caution lap, returned to the track in eighth place and steadily worked back to finish third. He set the fourth-fastest lap of the race (1:20.776, 87.709 mph), , despite worsening power-steering and engine problems.

"The power steering was failing because it was damaged by some debris Shane picked up on track. Then with about seven laps to go, the header broke off the engine. It was all I could do to hold [fourth-place finisher] Butch Leitzinger off. He was catching me on the straight but he would have had to go over my roof to get past me in the corners," Auberlen said.

"The car was very nice; the setup was good. The team did a great job -- that's a very good team with a lot of talent onboard. Martha and Steve Southard do a phenomenal job of running a team. I would definitely love to race with them again because we have two more positions to take care of, ahead of where we finished at Long Beach."

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Shane Lewis , Butch Leitzinger , Bill Auberlen , Steve Southard