A Perfect Start: Victory for the new BMW V12 LMR
Munich/Sebring: The BMW works drivers Tom Kristensen (DK), JJ Lehto (FIN) and JÖrg MÜller (D) drove with the BMW V12 LMR to victory in its maiden race on Saturday, the 12 hours of Sebring in Florida (USA). BMW Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger said: "In Sebring our car has been fast as well as reliable. It has passed this stage of development with flying colors. The whole team has been working hard for this success and has done a really good job. This debut was perfect - encouraging for the 24 hours of Le Mans and for me as this is my first race as BMW Motorsport Director."
Among the many retirements in the endurance race on the extremely bumpy six kilometer-long circuit was the second BMW V12 LMR of Yannick Dalmas (F), Pierluigi Martini (I) and Joachim Winkelhock (D). Dalmas crashed five hours and ten minutes into the race while running in second place.
Shortly before, Steve Soper (GB) crashed Dr. Thomas Bscher's developed 1998 BMW V12 LM, which he shared with Bill Auberlen (USA) and Bscher (D). Hans-Joachim Stuck became a spectator after exactly 200 laps: "Without any warning the engine on our BMW M3 broke," the three-time overall Sebring winner said. Until the retirement his BMW Team PTG was second in the GT class.
BMW Motorsport Team Manager Charly Lamm: "Pole-position and victory in Sebring are really unexpected successes considering that our car is just two months old. The team learned a lot during this race, and gelled to make driver changes and tire changes run smoothly. We also learned a lot about the fuel consumption of the car, with which we were pleased.
Tom Kristensen: "I am proud to be part of this project. The whole team is working fantastically together and at the end our race tactics paid off."
JJ Lehto: "That was not an easy race because of the surface and the rubber on it. We had very little grip, although we had very good Michelin tires."
JÖrg MÜller: "We have made big improvements during the last weeks, especially on the suspension at the test in Homestead. And the most important part of it is that all of the improvements which we discover, we are able to put onto the car immediately, despite the distance between Florida and BMW Motorsport in England."
1. Kristensen/Lehto/Muller BMW V12 LMR 313 laps 2. Leitzinger/Forbes-Robinson/Weaver R&S Mk III Ford 9.202 sec behind 3. Alboreto/Capello/Johansson Audi R8R 3 laps behind 4. Boutsen/Wollek/Muller Porsche 911 GT1 5 laps behind 5. Pirro/Biela/McCarthy Audi R8R 8 laps behind 6. Taylor/Caffi/Fangio II/Angelelli Ferrari 333 SP 19 laps behind