Atlanta/Munich. The luck was not with BMW at the 2000 Petit Le Mans race in Road Atlanta, Georgia (USA). On the 339th of 394 laps of the 1000-mile race, Jorg Muller (D) spun the BMW V12 LMR while running second. His teammate JJ Lehto (FIN) took...
Atlanta/Munich. The luck was not with BMW at the 2000 Petit Le Mans race in Road Atlanta, Georgia (USA). On the 339th of 394 laps of the 1000-mile race, Jorg Muller (D) spun the BMW V12 LMR while running second. His teammate JJ Lehto (FIN) took over and finished fifth in the action-packed ninth round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
Lehto/Muller started 4th in the art car designed by American artist Jenny Holzer, who attended the first race for her work. The second BMW V12 LMR of American Bill Auberlen and Jean-Marc Gounon (F) qualified sixth and retired on its 58th race lap. Auberlen had only driven 15 laps when he escaped from a 360-degree reverse flip of the car with only a bruised elbow.
The endurance race was won by Audi drivers Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Michele Alboreto ahead of their colleagues Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Tom Kristensen. Therefore McNish has now taken the lead of the drivers' championship from Jorg Muller.
BMW Motorsport Director Dr. Mario Theissen: "First of all, we are very glad that Bill escaped his accident nearly unhurt. We checked all the data immediately and compared it with the data of earlier laps and with what our drivers reported. We made sure that the car developed enough downforce even on that bump. It became clear that the incident could happen only after a number of very unlucky factors contributed during an overtaking manoeuvre directly on the top of a bump. An extreme situation developed in which the airflow underneath the car was suddenly disrupted. Regarding our second car, we really would have liked to show Jenny Holzer a better finish, especially because the car number 42 with the unique art car bodywork was very competitive here."
BMW Motorsport Team Manager Charly Lamm: "No doubt, the most important news of the day from our side is that Bill is all right. The car looks impressively good. The team stripped it completely during the race, and the monocoque seems to be intact, which underlines the high safety standard of our prototype. What is positive, is that the 42 car was sometimes able to keep the pace of the Audi. But, however, this place seems to dislike us."
JJ Lehto , #42: "It was obviously not our day today. The race was flat out right from the beginning. I found my stints really hard, afterwards I felt every bone in my body. The set-up of the car was quite good here again and we had a great fight with the Audi. I just wished we would have had also the speed to beat them on the straights. I knew that Bill was okay after his crash because he was waiting until I passed by and waved to me."
Jörg Müller , #42: "We were pushing very, very hard today. I drove every lap on the limit. On the 339th lap unfortunately I spun and hit the tyre barrier with the rear. The wing was damaged and had to be changed. The pit stop cost us three places."
Bill Auberlen , #43: "I was trying to pass a Lola for about ten laps and was following him closely over the back straight bump and never had a problem. But on this lap I got a very good drive out of the corner and began to pass the Lola on the right side. The Lola was drafting the Corvette and when he cut the Corvette, he made a sudden movement to the right in order to pass it. At that moment he took all the downforce off the front of my car. I had nowhere to go and I knew I was in trouble. I felt terrible turbulence on my helmet that pulled my head forward and actually sucked my visor open. Then the car began to take off. It was fortunate that it landed on its wheels. The landing was not like Lufthansa but it worked. I feel bad for the team because they had worked so hard and the car was in really good shape for this endurance race and Jean-Marc did an excellent first stint."
Jean-Marc Gounon , #43: "It is really a pity that this race ended so early for us. We did intensive work during the test here and further improved the car session by session. I'm glad Bill is okay."
Hans-J. Stuck also had bad luck in the BMW M3 of BMW Team PTG. Together with his teammates Boris Said and Johannes van Overbeek, he led the GT class for one hour. Later an oil line came loose and wrapped around the drive shaft. The team quickly repaired the car, but were forced to retire when another oil-line problem occurred.
<pre> Result after 9 hours 8 minutes and 40.619 seconds:
1. Capello/McNish/Alboreto Audi 394 laps 2. Biela/Pirro/Kristensen Audi - 3 3. Brabham/Magnussen Panoz - 3 4. O'Connell/Katoh/Graf Panoz - 5 5. Muller/Lehto BMW - 11