PROTOTYPE TECHNOLOGY GROUP BMW M3 TEAM - SATURDAY, OCT. 10, 1998 The Inaugural Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.
PAIR OF PTG BMW M3s UP FRONT AFTER FOUR HOURS The No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door of Bill Auberlen, Mark Simo and Andy Pilgrim was back in the GT3 lead (12th place overall) after four hours of today's inaugural Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta while the No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe of Ross Bentley, Darren Law, Jeff Shafer and David Besnard was second in GT3 (14th overall). Meanwhile, the No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door of Peter Cunningham, Brian Simo, Terry Borcheller and Javier Quiros was pulled behind the pit wall while the crew worked to replace its differential. With Quiros behind the wheel midway through the fourth hour, the differential pump failed, causing the rear end to smoke heavily. After close examination, the crew decided to replace the entire differential. The privateer No. 12 BMW M3 four-door of T.C. Kline Racing crashed heavily into the inside wall between Turns 1 and 2 during the third hour and did not resume. Driver Pete Halsmer walked away from the incident complaining of chest pains and was airlifted to Georgia Baptist Hospital. He was diagnosed with a punctured lung and will be held for observation for 2-3 days.
MARK SIMO, No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Four-Door - "The car felt fine. It was unfortunate that we had to pit to replace a tire (when the car made contact with the No. 02 Porsche of Ron Fellows during the second hour). There was an injured Ferrari ou there, so I went inside him (Fellows) to get by, and I don't think he saw me. It's just one of those setbacks. Nonetheless, we're back out in front and we still have a long way to go."
BRIAN SIMO, No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Four-Door - "Everything went well for me. There wasn't a glitch in the whole stint. Pretty uneventful, actually, which is probably a good thing in a long race like this. Traffic is an issue. With so many faster cars out there, you just have to keep your eye on the mirrors and stay out of trouble. These are fun cars to drive after spending a whole season racing in Trans-Am. This track is in great shape. There's a huge crowd. It's a beautiful day. Everyone's relatively courteous out on the racetrack. We've got all the ingredients for a fun race."
JAVIER QUIROS, No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Four-Door - "The car was running pretty good. I was concentrating extra hard on saving the brakes and taking it easy on the transmission so we can last longer. But something went wrong in the transmission. The differential, I think. I guess these cars were meant to race as hard as you can if this is what happens when you try to take it easy! But seriously, I'm really glad to be back with this team (for the first time this year after winning five events in 1996-97 in PTG BMW M3s)."
JEFF SHAFER, No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Coupe - "That was really nice. It was my first long-distance run in the BMW M3. I'm still getting used to the car. Getting out and then getting back in later will help. I'm really getting comfortable. This is the biggest and heaviest car I've ever driven. But it's very driveable. This is also the first time I've really raced on this track. Coming down that hill and around that last turn is breathtaking."
DAVID BESNARD, No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Coupe - "The car's been excellent the whole race. Physically, I'm fine. I was being very gentle, very careful the first third or first half of my stint. Then I was able to make a run for it. The traffic keeps you on your toes. There's always someone coming up on you, so you have to keep an eye on your mirrors. I raced a World Sports Car at Watkins Glen (in August), so I know what it's like for the faster cars."