TURNER MOTORSPORT'S TEAM FILLED WITH PROVEN WINNERS
TURNER MOTORSPORT, Amesbury, MA, USA (January 6, 2009) -- Turner Motorsport's driver line-up for the opening round of the 2009 Koni Sports Car Challenge Series promises to deliver a hurricane force of talent to Florida. Featuring factory BMW drivers and others who have competed at the top of sports car racing around the world, the 2009 team is showcasing a lot of speed before the cars even turn a racing lap. The names on the 2009 roster will be familiar to any sports car racing fan.
The Turner Motorsport team will be entering the 2009 season as the winningest BMW team of the last four years. They gave the M3 its first Koni Challenge victory in 2005 (winning five times that year) and have amassed a total of 14 wins, 47 podiums, and 18 pole positions in the GS and ST classes. The team won back-to-back ST Championships in 2006-2007 and also won the GS Championship in 2006. With the team's season-ending win in 2007, BMW earned its first-ever Koni Challenge Manufacturer's Championship.
RETURNING CHAMPS IN ST CLASS E90 330i
Will Turner and Don Salama will again team up in the ST class for the opening round at Daytona. The duo co-drove in the 2005-07 Koni Challenge seasons, winning the overall ST Drivers Championship in 2006 from the wheel of an H&R Springs/Turner Motorsport BMW E46-chassis 330i. The same car with different drivers won the 2007 ST Championship. For the first race at Daytona, Turner and Salama will take the wheel of the team's new BMW 330i (E90 chassis), sponsored by H&R Springs and Turner Motorsport.
STRENGTH AND SPEED FOR GS CLASS M3s
The Turner team will also field two familiar BMW E46 M3s in the Koni Challenge GS class. Both the 96 and 97 M3s will be back in the GS class for 2009, with possibly the strongest driver pairings in the field.
Bill Auberlen returns for his eighth season with Turner Motorsport. He will again be wielding the #96 H&R Springs/StopTech Brakes M3. Bill joined BMW as a factory-sponsored driver in 1996, winning the GT classes of the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and many other sports car races from 1996-1998. He won the 1997 IMSA GT3 Drivers Championship with BMW and the Grand-Am Rolex GT class championship in 2002 and 2004. With Turner Motorsport, Bill became the 2003 and 2004 World Challenge Touring Car Drivers Champion. He will also be driving in 2009 for the factory-sponsored BMW M3 team in the American Le Mans Series.
While Auberlen is already a familiar name in professional motorsports, he'll be teaming up with a young up-and-coming racer who has set his own course to sports car racing success. Matt Bell had a strong rookie season in 2008, making his pro racing debut with Turner Motorsport in the Koni Challenge ST class. Despite not having run at many of the tracks on the Grand-Am schedule, Bell proved up to the task and broke through for podium success in the Turner Motorsport BMW 330i.
While 2008 was Bell's first year among the professional ranks, it was far from his first time behind the wheel of a Turner Motorsport racecar. He has been actively racing on the West Coast in a former E46 325i World Challenge Touring Car, previously raced by Turner Motorsport and Bill Auberlen himself.
Bell's 2008 podium-winning performance and quick adaption to new tracks led Turner Motorsport to invite the California youngster to make the step up to Koni Challenge GS competition with Auberlen in 2009. Keep an eye on Bell as his focus and speed, teamed with Auberlen's copious pace, advice, and experience will no doubt see these two spraying the champagne together soon.
Also returning in 2009 to the GS class is Chris Gleason. Chris will race the #97 H&R Springs/Turner Motorsport BMW M3. He raced an M3 for the Turner team in 2007, winning three times. Chris did not drive in 2008, instead focusing on the Gleason Financial business, but the racing bug that has bit him since 1973 would not let him sit out 2009. Co-driving with Chris in the #97 M3 will be BMW factory pilot Joey Hand. Joey has extensive experience in all of the major sports car racing series and drove the entire 2008 season in a Rolex Daytona Prototype. In 2007 he raced in the American Le Mans Series, Daytona Prototype, Koni Challenge, and SPEED World Challenge series. In 2007, he drove to a victory with Turner Motorsport at Miller Motorsports Park in a Koni Challenge M3. He will join Bill Auberlen this coming year in BMW's factory-backed effort in the ALMS.