James, Gleason and Auberlen's BMW M3 Finishes Seventh in Saturday's EMCO Gears Classic Rolex Series Race at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio, Aug. 27 - The No. 22 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 of Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz.; Chris Gleason of...
James, Gleason and Auberlen's BMW M3 Finishes Seventh in Saturday's EMCO Gears Classic Rolex Series Race at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio, Aug. 27 - The No. 22 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 of Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz.; Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Bill Auberlen of Santa Monica, Calif. led part of Saturday's EMCO Gears Classic Rolex series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but contact with a Daytona Prototype car dropped it to seventh place at the checkered.
The race will be televised on a tape-delayed basis Sunday at noon ET on SPEED.
The driver rotation was James, Gleason and Auberlen. The race ended up being a timed event of two hours and 45 minutes, which worked out to 94 laps around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course.
James got off to a terrific start, passing one of his team cars, the No. 16, for the lead immediately. He was still in the top spot when he pitted on lap 44 under a full-course caution, turning the car over to Gleason. The team was in ninth after the pit stop and eighth by lap 52.
Gleason was running good lap times but around lap 60 trouble struck when Fabrizio Gollin, driving the No. 77 Daytona Prototype, made contact with Gleason's BMW. It damaged the latter's right-front suspension. Gleason pitted for repairs and for Auberlen to take his turn driving, but the incident ruined the entry's hopes for another podium finish.
Auberlen was in 12th place on lap 67 and 11th on lap 84, but he had worked his way back up to eighth by lap 91. He got seventh on the very last lap.
Although the drivers of the No. 22 wished they could have won, they were pleased that the drivers of one of their sister cars, the No. 21 BMW, did just that.
Only four races remain on the 14-race Rolex series schedule for 2005. They are: Sept. 8-10 at Phoenix International Raceway; Sept. 22-24 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International with the Indy Racing League; Oct. 7-9 at Virginia International Raceway and Dec. 2-4 at Mexico City, Mexico. Gleason's car will have an additional sponsor for the Phoenix race: the insurance provider Highmark.
Gleason will also drive at the Rolex Vintage Festival presented by BMW Sept. 2-5 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.
Gleason's post-race quote follows:
"Ian did a terrific job during his stint, and led the race. Then he pitted under a full-course yellow. Tom [Milner, the team owner] did a terrific job positioning all the cars for the pit stop. The crew had a great pit stop; clean and fast."
"I got in and we were still under yellow. Then when we restarted I ran good lap times, and we held our position pretty well. One of the Pontiacs got by me, but I stayed with him. We were looking for the next full-course yellow so that Bill Auberlen could get in, but then in turn two I was hit by the No. 77 Daytona Prototype. He just creamed me. He smashed into my right front. I had given him plenty of room. I was on the outside, and he just dive-bombed me. We complained to the officials, but they didn't do anything about it."
"It broke a suspension piece and bent the steering arm. We lost a couple laps making repairs. That put us back in 14th or something like that. Bill Auberlen got in and he drove a great stint and brought us home."
"I have to congratulate my teammates; they started last and won the race. They had to hold off Andy Lally at the end."
"I think that Tom Milner's winning percentage is like 50 percent since he got the BMW contract. It's an astounding record."
"Now we go to Phoenix. The course is well-suited to our cars, and with no Daytona Prototypes in that race, hopefully we'll have better luck."