BRASELTON, Ga. (October 3, 2001) - The strongest BMW sports car racing effort in recent history will roll onto the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit on October 6 for the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans, the final round of BMW's dream season and the 2001 ...
BRASELTON, Ga. (October 3, 2001) - The strongest BMW sports car racing effort in recent history will roll onto the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit on October 6 for the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans, the final round of BMW's dream season and the 2001 American Le Mans Series. On BMW's agenda is its first sweep - since the series' inception in 1999 - of all ALMS GT class titles in one season, and its fourth all-time in U.S. GT competition.
The powerful one-two punch of BMW Team PTG and BMW Motorsport behind the four V8-powered M3 GTRs has already secured BMW's fifth sports car GT manufacturer's title following a third 1-2 finish and a fifth straight win at the penultimate round at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif.
BMW Motorsport needs only to finish ahead of rival Alex Job Racing in this last race of the year to claim the team championship, while Team PTG has a firm grip on third. BMW Team PTG has won the GT team championship four times in seven years.
With Jörg Müller (165) atop the driver's standings and JJ Lehto (164), Boris Said (139), Dirk Müller (137), Fredrik Ekblom (137) and Hans Stuck (128) all in the top 10, another BMW win by any of these six could secure BMW its fourth GT driver's title.
To honor the victims of the recent tragedies in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, and to show their support of the United States of America, BMW Team PTG and Yokohama Tire Corporation have agreed to repaint the PTG M3s for this event. Instead of flying the corporate Yokohama colors of red, white and black, the cars will compete in the red, white and blue colors of the American flag.
"When Yokohama approached us with the idea to repaint the cars at such an important time and for such an important cause, everyone was behind it 110 percent," said PTG owner Tom Milner. "I think I speak for everyone in the extended PTG, Yokohama and BMW of N.A. family when I say that I have never been prouder to be a part of this team."
Although BMW has won 39 GT races since 1995, it has not won any of the three previous grueling Petit Le Mans events. Last year, Team PTG and BMW Motorsport were ninth and fifth in the GT and Prototype classes, respectively. Their best results at this event came in 1999 with a 2-3 Prototype finish for BMW Motorsport, and a 2-3-4 GT finish for Team PTG, repeating its 1998 performance.
The Team PTG driver lineup for its two Yokohama M3 GTRs include Bill Auberlen, Boris Said and Hans Stuck in the No. 6 car, while Niclas Jönsson will anchor the No. 10 car with Brian Cunningham, of Danville, Ky., who drove for PTG in 1999 and 2000, and PTG newcomer, road racing specialist David Murry, of Atlanta, Ga.
BMW Team PTG is taking this final event of 2001 very seriously. "This is not a time for words, but actions," said Milner. "You speak with any of our drivers - Bill, Boris, Hans, Nic or Brian and David - you'll see that Team PTG has a renewed focus for this race."
"Certainly we would like to expand BMW's trophy case again this year," said Tom Salkowsky, motorsports manager for BMW of North America, LLC. "Seven years of North American GT competition have seen two generations of M3s on the top step of the podium and BMW's five ALMS victories so far this season place the M3 GTR among the best in our racing history."
The 1000-mile or 10-hour Petit Le Mans is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. EDT and will be televised live on Speedvision beginning at 11:30 a.m. EDT. The race can be heard online through the American Le Mans Radio Web at www.americanlemans.com.