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Road Atlanta PTG BMW M3 Friday Qualifying

PROTOTYPE TECHNOLOGY GROUP BMW M3 TEAM - FRIDAY, OCT. 9, 1998 The Inaugural Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga. PTG BMW M3s QUALIFY 1-2-3 IN GT3, PRIVATEER BMW M3 FIFTH Bill Auberlen and the No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door led a ...

PROTOTYPE TECHNOLOGY GROUP BMW M3 TEAM - FRIDAY, OCT. 9, 1998 The Inaugural Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.

PTG BMW M3s QUALIFY 1-2-3 IN GT3, PRIVATEER BMW M3 FIFTH Bill Auberlen and the No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door led a 1-2-3 PTG qualifying effort in the GT3 class of this weekend's inaugural Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta. Auberlen bettered the track record he set here last June by touring the 2.6-mile road course in 1 minute, 26.557 seconds (an average of 106.47 mph). The defending Professional Sports Car Racing (SPORTS CAR) GT3 driver's champion and current points leader will co-drive with Mark Simo, who's currently second in the standings, and Andy Pilgrim in Saturday's 10-hour (or 1,000 miles, whichever comes first) race. Second was the brand new No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door of Peter Cunningham, Brian Simo, Terry Borcheller and Javier Quiros. Cunningham recorded a lap of 1:26.846 (106.11 mph). Third was Ross Bentley, who drove the No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe to a time of 1:27.687 (105.10 mph). The No. 12 BMW M3 four-door of T.C. Kline Racing was the fifth-fastest qualifier in GT3. Pete Halsmer recorded a fast lap of 1:28.227 (104.45 mph), just behind the No. 23 Porsche of Alex Job Racing. Halsmer is driving with Randy Pobst and Shane Lewis. The BMW M3 was recently purchased from PTG, where it raced as a silver-colored No. 1 car this season.

Today's qualifying session was cut short when the No. 5 Panoz GT1 entry of Johnny O'Connell spun coming down the hill to the final turn and crashed heavily into the tire wall. He was unhurt and the status of the car is uncertain. Saturday's race begins at 11 a.m. EDT with the conclusion set for 9 p.m. (or earlier if 1,000 miles is covered sooner). Speedvision will broadcast the first 2½ hours and final three hours of the race live.

BILL AUBERLEN, No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Four-Door - "The car, so far, has been very strong, very competitive. And the team has been pretty much flawless all weekend. But tomorrow's what matters most. It's a long race, so we figure there will be some attrition. As you saw today, one little bit of oil on the track (like the one that sent the No. 5 Panoz car into a spin and a heavy crash into the Turn 12 tire wall) and a car can get disintegrated. The job for us will be to run our BMW M3s hard and maintain for 10 hours."

PETER CUNNINGHAM, No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Four-Door - "Like I said yesterday, this brand new car is absolutely awesome, right out of the box. (My crew chief) Larry Hahn and the PTG guys have been putting in a tremendous effort since well before we got here to get this car ready, and their work is paying off so far. We're looking very good for tomorrow. I really thought we had a shot at the pole. I had a good lap going when I got a little sideways going through the oil that Johnny O'Connell (in the No. 5 Panoz GT1 entry) ultimately spun in. I'm fortunate, I guess, but I feel really good about how we're running."

ROSS BENTLEY, No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Coupe - "We got everything back together after our mishap last night. Unfortunately, we never got a good lap in during the qualifying session. I think there is a lot more left in the BMW M3. But how can you argue with a 1-2-3 team effort? The crew did a great job. The car is perfect, as far as I'm concerned. I'm willing to bet it'll be even more perfect at the end of the race."

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Series PSR
Drivers Shane Lewis , Johnny O'Connell , Brian Simo , Bill Auberlen , Pete Halsmer , Randy Pobst , Terry Borcheller , Peter Cunningham , T.C. Kline , Alex Job , Javier Quiros