Munich/Portland. BMW Motorsport returned to the podium during Sunday's Rose City Grand Prix on the 1.944-mile Portland International Raceway. The No. 42 BMW V12 LMR, driven by JJ Lehto (FIN) and Jorg Muller (D), started sixth and finished third,...
Munich/Portland. BMW Motorsport returned to the podium during Sunday's Rose City Grand Prix on the 1.944-mile Portland International Raceway. The No. 42 BMW V12 LMR, driven by JJ Lehto (FIN) and Jorg Muller (D), started sixth and finished third, with flawless pitstops and strong driving. Lehto drove the first 45 minutes and Muller double-stinted the final two hours for the podium finish. Bill Auberlen (USA) and Jean-Marc Gounon (F) also had a strong car, but were slowed by a tire puncture after 10 minutes of the two-hour 45-minute race. They returned to the race after a 20-minute pitstop to repair bodywork and the airbox, and finished 10th in the prototype class. Auberlen drove the first and third stints, with Gounon taking the second.
BMW Motorsport team manager Charly Lamm: "We are very happy with at least one BMW V12 LMR back on the podium. JJ and Jorg did a very good race, we were able to benefit from the full-course yellow situations and we defended our lead in the drivers' championship. I'm very sorry for the car number 43. Bill had a very good start and it seemed like both the cars could do a strong race. But a puncture at high speed put the car out of contention, so bad luck for the car 43 today. Now we will work hard for the Petit Le Mans in Atlanta."
JJ Lehto #42: "We had a good race, you really can't ask that better things will happen today. We had good pitstops, no mistakes, just everything was working fine. We went as fast as we could, 110 per cent."
Jorg Muller #42: "We definitely weren't on the pace of the Panoz and Audi, but we kept it on the road, no mistakes, good pit strategies. That's why we finished third. It's important for the points. At the moment, we're still leading the championship with four races to go. So we need to work very hard."
Bill Auberlen #43: "Our car was faster even than the other team car, but we had a tire explode at full speed -- probably the fastest I've ever had one blow up -- and it did a lot of damage. It ripped our airbox off, the sidepod, radiator hoses and all kinds of damage just because of the speed we were going. We lost a lot of time and we had to just circulate around to get points."
Jean-Marc Gounon #43: "I'm happy for my teammates because they had such a good race. And I'm sorry for our car 43. Bill picked up a very good rhythm in the beginning of the race and then the tire exploded, which caused a lot of damage and we had to do repairs for a long time. So I couldn't do much in the race, just bring the car home."