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Laguna Seca PTG BMW M3s Qualifying

PROTOTYPE TECHNOLOGY GROUP BMW M3 TEAM - FRIDAY, OCT. 23, 1998 Visa Sports Car Championships, Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, Calif. PTG BMW M3s QUALIFY 3-4 IN QUEST FOR DRIVER'S, MANUFACTURER'S TITLES Bill Auberlen, vying for his second ...

PROTOTYPE TECHNOLOGY GROUP BMW M3 TEAM - FRIDAY, OCT. 23, 1998 Visa Sports Car Championships, Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, Calif.

PTG BMW M3s QUALIFY 3-4 IN QUEST FOR DRIVER'S, MANUFACTURER'S TITLES Bill Auberlen, vying for his second consecutive Professional Sports Car Racing (SPORTS CAR) GT3 driver's championship and BMW's third consecutive GT3 manufacturer's title, qualified third in the No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door for Saturday's two-and-one-half-hour Visa Sports Car Championships at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, Calif. Auberlen, paired with Mark Simo, recorded a fast lap of 1 minute, 29.560 seconds (an average of 89.959 mph) over the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca layout. Peter Cunningham qualified fourth in the No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe with a time of 1:29.998 (89.521 mph). Cunningham's co-driver, Ross Bentley, qualified the No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe sixth on the GT3 grid in 1:31.380 (88.168 mph). Bentley is slated to start the car as insurance in the interests of clinching the manufacturer's points race, where BMW leads Porsche by 20 points heading into Saturday's SPORTS CAR season finale. Bentley is then slated to finish the race in the No. 6 team car. A pair of Alex Job Racing Porsches qualified 1-2 in GT3. Race time is 12 noon PDT.

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT 'SALLY'

The No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe that PTG's Ross Bentley qualified sixth in GT3 has not raced since last year's SPORTS CAR season finale here at Laguna Seca. Dubbed "Sally" by the PTG crew, it has been used as a show car this season and was only pressed into action after the previous No. 10 team car (named "Helga") crashed heavily at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta two weeks ago. By the way, the No. 1 PTG BMW M3, which only made its debut at the Petit Le Mans, is known as "Mildred," while the No. 6 PTG BMW M3 is called "Greta."

BILL AUBERLEN, No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Four-Door - "We did the best we could. The extra weight we carry around (250 pounds more than the GT3 Porsches), we can really feel it here. We're going to go all out to win this race. No cruising around just to win the championship. It's not our style to do it any other way. Driving in both the GT3 car and the (No. 2 BMW V8 Riley & Scott) WSC car has been really easy so far. I've done it before. When you're bouncing between two highly professional teams, it makes the job very easy. You know you're always going to get into a well-prepared race car."

MARK SIMO, No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Four-Door. - "This is where it all started for me with this team a year ago. Unfortunately, I'm a little behind. It's been a learning experience for me all year. My primary job is to help Bill win the driver's championship. He'll start the car and then it'll be up to me to bring it home. Hopefully, we can do it with a win."

PETER CUNNINGHAM, No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Coupe - "That's about what this BMW M3 can do. We might be able to get a little more speed out of the car, but not enough to show the Porsches anything in qualifying. We're counting on being able to go faster, longer, during the race."

ROSS BENTLEY, No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Coupe - "You know, for a beefed-up show car, 'Sally' is really something else. Considering it hasn't turned a wheel in a year, it's really balanced right out of the box. That's a credit to the PTG crew and the nature of the stock BMW M3. We'll start the car and then see what happens to our primary cars. If all goes well, we'll park it, and I'll get into the No. 6 car to finish the race.

BMW BACKERS OUT IN FORCE THIS WEEKEND As has been the case at numerous events this season, the area's BMW Car Club of America chapter is out in force, rooting the PTG BMW M3s on to what they hope will be the marque's third consecutive GT3 manufacturer's championship. They're joined by a group of some 200 other rooters that include employees of BMW's Los Angeles office, and area BMW dealers.

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