BMW podium at Nurburgring

NUERBURG, Germany (July 9, 2000) -- BMW Motorsport scored a tough second-place finish in the rain-soaked Bitburger/AvD 1000 km Le Mans Race on the 2.830-mile Nuerburgring circuit. JJ Lehto of Finland started the No. 42 BMW V12 LMR...

NUERBURG, Germany (July 9, 2000) -- BMW Motorsport scored a tough second-place finish in the rain-soaked Bitburger/AvD 1000 km Le Mans Race on the 2.830-mile Nuerburgring circuit. JJ Lehto of Finland started the No. 42 BMW V12 LMR fourth on the 38-car grid and moved up to hold third place, despite early contact with the No. 77 Audi. Co-driver Jorg Muller of Germany took the lead late in the race and built up more than a 40-second margin until a tire started to deflate, forcing him to relinquish the lead and finish second behind the No. 1 Panoz. The No. 43 BMW V12 LMR, driven by Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Jean-Marc Gounon of France, finished 10th after several incidents caused by the inclement conditions. BMW Team PTG ran a strong race in the GT class. The No. 10 Yokohama BMW M3 started sixth and finished fourth, with drivers Peter Cunningham of West Bend, Wis., Brian Cunningham of Danville, Ky., and Nic Jonsson of Aliso Viejo, Calif. Hans Stuck of Austria, Boris Said of Carlsbad, Calif., and Johannes van Overbeek of Danville, Calif., started seventh and finished sixth in the No. 6 Flextronics/Level One BMW M3. "With Audi bringing their Le Mans-winning cars and Panoz always being very tough competitors, a second-place finish is a very successful time at the Nuerburgring," said Tom Salkowsky, motorsport manager for BMW of North America, Inc. He was also pleased with BMW Team PTG's performance. "Under the conditions, I was happy with the way we progressed from the three-hour practice on Friday to how we qualified. The team did very well in the pits and the drivers were excellent under very tough conditions. All in all, we're happy with our results, with a fourth and a sixth." Stuck started the No. 6 M3, but was hindered by contact with a Porsche 10 minutes into the five-hour, 45-minute race. After a seven-minute pit stop, he returned to the race in last place. With stints of about 75 minutes each, Stuck, Said and van Overbeek worked their way back through the field. Stuck drove the final two hours of the race and scored the sixth-place finish. "The crew did a great job changing the tie rod and then we just made our way back up," Stuck said. "Thanks to Boris and Johannes and to a great car, we picked up a little bit of time. It was kind of my weather and I enjoyed every single lap in the car. It's a pity it's over already." Said also enjoyed the wet ride, despite 20 laps with a malfunctioning windshield wiper. "I had a good time driving around in the rain, but it's too bad the windshield wiper stopped working," he said. "It was a little hard to see out the front, especially when the prototype cars went by. But our cars were competitive in the rain, for sure." Peter Cunningham drove the first and last stints in the No. 10 car, with Nic Jonsson and Brian Cunningham filling the second and third. The trio held third place through most of the race, but dropped back one position when Brian Cunningham spun off track in wet conditions he described as "rivers" on the track. "As more and more rain came down, the ground got saturated and larger and larger rivers came out," he said. "I knew where one was, but it was a little larger than I expected. I was just trying to get some more time out of the car but when I hit that river, it just spun me around. "The rain was challenging," he continued. "I think it kind of evened the field and made it more of a drivers' race than a horsepower race. Our times show we were two of the fastest cars out there." Both BMW teams are now preparing for the American Le Mans Series race at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on July 23.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Nic Jönsson