FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Robert D. Mitchell JVS Enterprises BMW of North America, Inc. Public Relations 201-307-3790 203-438-0501 Erik Wensberg ...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Robert D. Mitchell JVS Enterprises BMW of North America, Inc. Public Relations 201-307-3790 203-438-0501
Erik Wensberg Blair W. Hefty M Brand Manager 201-612-1864 BMW of North America, Inc. 201-307-4122
THE STAKES ARE HIGH FOR PTG BMW M3 TEAM AT LAS VEGAS: AUBERLEN SEEKS TO REGAIN POINTS LEAD; M3s MUST ENDURE ADDITIONAL WEIGHT PENALTY
Las Vegas, Nev.; September 11, 1997: Tom Milner, owner of Prototype Technology Group, whose three BMW M3s have won five of the seven races in the GTS-3 class of the 1997 Exxon Supreme GT Series Presented by Virgin Interactive, began this season with five goals on his list. Two of those have been accomplished: winning the Daytona 24-Hour and the Sebring 12-Hour races.
The remaining three items on his hit list are still up for grabs as the team heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the SportsCar Grand Prix Presented by F A O Schwarz on Saturday, Sept. 20, round eight of the 11-race series sanctioned by Professional SportsCar Racing, Inc.
Item number three is to successfully defend BMW's 1996 manufacturer's championship, it's first GT title since 1981. So far so good, as BMW leads Porsche in this battle by 20 points (178-158). The fourth item is to win the new team championship introduced this season. That one's looking strong too, as Milner leads Michael Colucci's Porsche team by 32 points (172-140).
Item number five, the driver's championship, has been a see-saw struggle all season, with Bill Auberlen, driver of the No. 10 Yokohama BMW M3 four door, and Porsche driver David Murry fiercely contending for that top spot. Going into Las Vegas, Auberlen is three points behind Murry in second, tied with his teammate Javier Quiros, driver of the No. 6 Yokohama M3 coupe.
"It's anybody's championship," says Auberlen. "It's become a three-way battle now. Right when I thought I was going to get a break and move ahead in the championship and had such a good car at Mosport, we fell behind. I have full confidence in the car and the team. This is just a small hurdle we have to get over on our way to the championship. As long as one of us wins it will be good...but if I win it will be better. Seriously, though, the drivers on our team are such a great group of guys, that I would be happy for the team and BMW if either one of us won the championship."
The biggest challenge the PTG team faces in Las Vegas is not the usual Porsche confrontation, but the extra weight SportsCar has mandated on the BMW M3s. The sanctioning group is requiring the addition of another 100 pounds to the M3s, making the total of weight added to the M3s this season approximately 350 pounds.
"We have very reluctantly agreed to yet another change in the rulebook after the Mosport race," says Erik Wensberg, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America. "It's a shame that our commitment as a manufacturer to this series is being received in such a fashion. BMW is being singled out for its success when the simple fact of the matter is that our commitment to the series is greater than anyone else's, as is evidenced by the emergence of yet another BMW M3 in the hands of Eduardo Pellerano, which will make its first appearance at Pikes Peak on Sept. 28 (see pit note). We entered this series in 1995 with a good package. We continued to improve on it and worked hard on being successful, with excellent drivers and solid engineering."
"The driver always wants his car to be as light and fast as it can," adds Auberlen. "This extra weight puts more strain on the engine, drive train, suspension, and puts major extra strain on the tire compounds. This will force Yokohama to go back to the drawing board to develop a new compound that won't overheat with all that added poundage."
"Of course, we're not happy with having to add another 100 pounds," says Milner. "But we accept this latest penalty for success and will continue to do whatever is necessary to keep on winning. Our list of goals has not yet been achieved; that's what we're striving for."
The Las Vegas event is a one-hour-45-minute race, which begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20.
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Second BMW M3 Four Door Debuts at Pikes Peak: PTG will unveil a fifth BMW M3 to the GTS-3 series at the Sept. 28 Pikes Peak event. The No. 5 Conoco/Interstate Batteries/Budget Rent-A-Car M3 is the second sedan to be introduced to the series, and will be driven by Eduardo Pellerano of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and John Paul Jr., who returns to the PTG team for the first time since Road Atlanta on April 20. Paul will drive in the Las Vegas World Sports Car event and is expected to test the new four-door sedan there.
All In the Family: Bill is not the only Auberlen pursuing a successful driving career. His brother Jeff, 31, of Redondo Beach, Calif., will co-drive with Javier Quiros in the No. 63 Cast-Crete/Syntec Concepts BMW M3, one of three M3s campaigned by Massari-Muller Racing of Clearwater, Fla., in SportsCar's Grand Sports class of the Speedvision Cup. Jeff and Javier will drive in the Las Vegas (Geoff's first SportsCar race), Pikes Peak and Sebring events. Massari-Muller switched to BMW M3s this season and promptly won the first event it entered, both in class and overall, at Sears Point.