SONOMA, Calif., (July 12, 2001) - First on BMW Team PTG's to-do list this month is to introduce another winning thoroughbred at the X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sears Point Raceway, the third round of the 2001 American Le Mans Series, as BMW...
SONOMA, Calif., (July 12, 2001) - First on BMW Team PTG's to-do list this month is to introduce another winning thoroughbred at the X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sears Point Raceway, the third round of the 2001 American Le Mans Series, as BMW of North America, LLC, and Prototype Technology Group debut their latest racer- the 4.0-liter, V8-powered BMW M3 GTR.
No stranger to Sears Point's victory lane, Team PTG scored its very first victory and 1-2-3 GTS-2 class sweep here in 1996, a second GTS-3 class victory in 1997 and a third win in the GT class in 1999. The two-hour-and-45-minute race will be held on the newly revamped 2.52-mile, 11-turn Northern California circuit, located in the heart of America's famed wine country.
The unique difference between the M3s that earned these victories and the two BMW M3 GTRs that PTG will debut on July 22 is the engine. While the M3s that have won 33 GT-class races in North America since 1995 were powered by in-line 6-cylinder powerplants, the new GTR is equipped with an all-new 444-horsepower V8, developed by BMW Motorsport in Munich, Germany.
In creating the M3 GTR program, BMW has produced a racing car that applies even more technology and engineering to the tough GT class. A partnership between BMW of North America and BMW Motorsport this year provides the additional leverage of four M3 GTRs in the hands of two teams and eight of the finest road-racing drivers in the world.
"Having two BMW teams racing the M3 GTR was a strategy that was developed with BMW Motorsport last season. This race is an important milestone for BMW of North America's Motorsports program and for Team PTG," said Tom Salkowsky, Motorsport Manager for BMW of North America, LLC. "Obviously, both teams are out to win each race, but understand that there is strength in numbers and in the end it is BMW versus the competition. The ideal victory is the BMW M3 GTR finishing 1-2-3-4 in class. We are all very anxious to reach Sears Point and are expecting a very competitive GT race."
Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Niclas Jonsson, of Sweden, will co-drive the No. 10 M3 GTR for BMW Team PTG, while Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif., and Hans Stuck, of Austria, will drive the No. 6. Both M3s are equipped with Yokohama racing tires as the Japanese manufacturer continues its seven-year relationship with BMW Team PTG.
BMW Motorsport drivers JJ Lehto, of Finland, Jorg Muller and Dirk Muller, both of Germany, and Fredrik Ekblom, of Sweden, come to Sears Point after winning the second round of the European Le Mans Series in Jarama, Spain, on May 20.
Starting the season's first two races in March with its 6-cylinder M3s, Team PTG scored a third at Texas Motor Speedway and a fourth at the 12 Hours of Sebring. After receiving its first GTR chassis in April, PTG completed a rigorous six-week testing program that began at Sebring International Raceway in Florida in June and ended this week at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia.
"I just can't wait to get out there," said PTG owner Tom Milner. "I am fired up because now I see what the possibilities are after having fought with such a disadvantage to the Porsches for the last two years. I feel very good about Sears Point and beyond."
The X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. PDT on July 22 and will be televised live by NBC Sports beginning at 4 p.m. EDT. The race can be heard online through the American Le Mans Radio Web at www.americanlemans.com.
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