PROTOTYPE TECHNOLOGY GROUP BMW M3 TEAM - SATURDAY, OCT. 10, 1998 The Inaugural Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.
PTG BMW M3s PLACE 2nd, 3rd and 4th AFTER 'EVENTFUL' 10 HOURS The Nos. 6 and 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3s overcame significant mechanical problems to finish second and third, respectively, in the GT3 class of today's inaugural Petit Le Mans 10-hour endurance race at Road Atlanta. Meanwhile, the No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door of series points leader Bill Auberlen, Mark Simo and Andy Pilgrim saw its day end early by way of heavy contact with the tire barriers outside Turn 12, but it nonetheless placed fourth.
Ross Bentley, Darren Law, David Besnard and Jeff Shafer shared the runner-up finish in the No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe. They finished seven laps behind the GT3 class-winning No. 76 Porsche 911. Most of that time was lost due to wheel bearing problems that needed to be repaired during the seventh hour. Peter Cunningham, Brian Simo, Terry Borcheller and Javier Quiros finished 39 laps behind their runner-up teammates due to several problems, including the differential that need to be replaced in the No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door during the fourth hour. The car then stopped on course with electrical problems and lost several laps while the PTG crew delivered a new "black box" that driver Borcheller replaced on course. Then, were in and out of the pits fighting driveshaft problems in the closing hours. Mark Simo's crash was the No. 10 BMW M3's first DNF in SPORTS CAR events this season. He was stiff and sore following the incident, but otherwise unhurt.
The second-place finish clinched the second consecutive SPORTS CAR GT3 team championship for PTG with one race remaining - Oct. 24 at Laguna Seca. BMW takes a 20-point lead in the SPORTS CAR GT3 manufacturer's championship over Porsche into the finale.
TOM MILNER, PTG Team Owner - "Second, third and fourth is not as good as first, second and third, but today, I'll take it. Whatever could go wrong for us today, did. But we persevered, and the entire team and our drivers showed their character."
SCOTT DONIGER, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America, Inc. - "I am proud to be associated with this team. They showed their mettle today by overcoming every mechanical obstacle we faced. We're still in the hunt for the manufacturer's championship, and we crown PTG with its second straight team title. We're certainly thankful Mark Simo is healthy after the hit he took. The inaugural Petit Le Mans has proven that sports car racing is back in the U.S., and we see this as a stepping stone to a very bright future."
MARK SIMO, No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Four-Door - "All I have to say is, BMW makes a great car because I hit the wall hard and it kept me in one piece. That hurt! Something broke because I turned and turned on the wheel and kept going straight. It's a shame because we had a five-lap lead and just had to make it to the end."
BILL AUBERLEN, No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Four-Door - "Thankfully, Mark is alright. That's all that matters. We've got another race and our points leads are intact as a result of our chief competition (the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche) having even bigger problems today."
ROSS BENTLEY, No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 Coupe - "That's one of the strangest days I've seen with this team. But, in racing, I guess we all must go through these things. Every one of our cars had at least one significant setback. But we came through it like champions."