BMW Laguna Seca GT race report

MONTEREY, Calif. (September 9, 2001) - BMW Motorsport dominated today's ALMS Monterey Sports Car Championships with its potent M3 GTRs, placing 1-2. BMW, with its fifth win in a row, secured its first American Le Mans Series GT class...

MONTEREY, Calif. (September 9, 2001) - BMW Motorsport dominated today's ALMS Monterey Sports Car Championships with its potent M3 GTRs, placing 1-2. BMW, with its fifth win in a row, secured its first American Le Mans Series GT class manufacturer's championship and the fifth GT title since 1995.

The No. 42 M3 of JJ Lehto and Jörg Müller crossed the finish line one second ahead of its teammate, the No. 43 M3 GTR of Dirk Müller and Fredrick Ekblom. The duo covered 110 laps in the 2-hour, 45-minute contest around the 2.338-mile Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in the series' seventh round. Jorg Müller and Lehto are now separated by one point at the top of the GT driver's championship, with one race left.

This marked the third 1-2 finish in the last three races for the new V8-powered BMW M3 GTR effort of BMW Motorsport. Fredrick Ekblom also put a sixth race lap record into BMW's column with a time of 1:26.566. Team PTG has claimed four. One driver's championship point is awarded for each fast race lap.

Team PTG, winner in Portland, had an unlucky weekend with the No. 10 M3 GTR of Bill Auberlen and Boris Said finishing fourth, while the No. 6 M3 GTR of Hans Stuck and Niclas Jönsson retired on lap 74.

Starting fourth, the No. 10 M3 GTR of Said steadily chipped at the deficit, moving up past the No. 23 Porsche and the No. 43 M3, to a solid second position, aiming for No. 42, before losing a lap after being run off in the corkscrew after one hour. Co-driver Bill Auberlen, returning after missing two races from an injury suffered in practice at Mosport, drove a strong second stint to finish fourth.

The No. 6 M3 GTR of Jönsson started fifth and was hit twice in the first hour before Jönsson handed off to Stuck, who suffered a mechanical failure on lap 74, causing him to impact the tire barrier.

Both BMW Motorsport and BMW Team PTG were driving with a smaller restrictor (29 mm) mandated by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.

The American Le Mans Series moves on to Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., for the final round, the 10-hour Petit Le Mans, on Saturday, October 6.

Boris Said, driver of No. 10 PTG M3 GTR:
"We had a good run going and were comfortably into second. I got squeezed off by a prototype car entering the corkscrew and got stuck in the gravel. I thought my day was over, but I backed down the hill and got out behind the race leader when a yellow came out and there went a lap. It looks like our chance to win is gone, but I know Bill will run hard and maybe we can get a spot or two back."

Bill Auberlen, driver of No. 10 PTG M3 GTR:
"Another case of bad luck. Boris did a great job in the first stint, but got hung up in the corkscrew and that opened a gap to the first three GT cars and when the yellow came out it picked up the leader who was just ahead of us and we went down a lap. I got ahead of the third-place Porsche and opened a gap hoping for another caution period and a chance to get our lap back. Unfortunately another yellow never came and we ended up fourth."

Hans Stuck, driver of No. 6 PTG BMW M3 GTR:
"Everything was running fine and I exited the pits ahead of the first three GT cars, but one lap down. It made no sense to hold them up and I let them by. Forty minutes into my stint something failed in the rear of the car and sent me into the barriers bloody hard. I may have some bruises tomorrow, but I am OK."

Niclas Jönsson, driver of No. 6 PTG M3 GTR:
"The No. 6 M3 was great after the crew worked very hard to make changes. I tucked in behind Boris after a good start, but after about one-half hour I was hit in the side by a Panoz at turn 3 and slid off the track. I worked my way back only to get t-boned by a Cadillac after another half hour. We pitted and got back out just as a caution flag waved and we went down a lap. Still no luck yet this season, but we'll get back after it at Atlanta."

Tom Milner, owner of Prototype Technology Group:
"Another tough weekend. We were run off the road a number of times and lost laps. Team PTG plans to win and we came to Laguna Seca to win, but it was not our day."

Tom Salkowsky, motorsports manager, BMW of North America, LLC:
"Hats off to the BMW Motorsport team. They did a fantastic job all weekend. It was a frustrating weekend for Team PTG. We never were as fast as we were in practice and it was not our weekend. The team stepped up its effort after Mid-Ohio, but now we have three more weeks before the Petit Le Mans and we'll have to work harder. It looks like BMW secured the manufacturer's championship with this win and that is something that the entire BMW family should be proud of."


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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Dirk Müller , Boris Said , Jorg Muller , Bill Auberlen , JJ Lehto