BMW V12 near front at Sebring half distance

Race - Half Distance Report Round 1, American Le Mans Series 18th March 2000, Sebring, Florida Car 42 started from fifth position on the grid with JJ Lehto at the wheel. Lehto held fourth position when he came for the first pit stop in lap ...

Race - Half Distance Report Round 1, American Le Mans Series 18th March 2000, Sebring, Florida

Car 42 started from fifth position on the grid with JJ Lehto at the wheel. Lehto held fourth position when he came for the first pit stop in lap 28. The car was refuelled, but time was lost securing the rear diffuser. Despite the short delay, Lehto was up to second place overall when the second pit stop was due on lap 57. Unfortunately he got low-fuel misfire halfway round his last lap, half a lap to go, and some more valuable seconds were lost. The car was refuelled, four fresh tires were fitted and Lehto handed over to Jvrg M|ller, who continued in fifth position. He came for refuelling on lap 85 and again on lap 92, under a full course yellow when he again had the tires changed.

Bill Auberlen started sixth with car 43 and improved to fifth during the first stint. Due to earlier pit stops of competitors he was in third position when he came in for refuelling on lap 27. After a collision with a Dodge Viper, which made him spin on lap 46, he made his next routine stop for fuel and tires on lap 56, handing the BMW to Steve Soper who made a 28 lap stint.

M|ller caught and passed Soper on lap 108, nearly four hours into the race.

At this time they claimed second and third position. At 2:05 (113 laps completed), after the Audi #78 had pitted, BMW led the race for the first time with both cars - 42 in front of 43. Soper came in after lap 115 and handed over the car with new tires to Jean-Marc Gounon, who drove a 30 lap stint. M|ller refuelled on lap 122, and Lehto took over keeping the used tires to save time at rest. Remarkably he made the Michelin tires last a third stint, too, after refuelling after lap 150. Later Jean-Marc Gounon also made his Michelin tires last three stints.

BMW Motorsport Team Manager Charly Lamm: "I am very happy with the way our race is going and that both our BMWs now have a reasonable balance. It was bad luck that JJ got delayed with a low-fuel misfire during the last lap of his second stint. But we had to get the most out of the tank each time and make the most of our fuel consumption. On car 43 the full tank lasted for 29 laps, but on car 42 it did not."

JJ Lehto #42: "The car feels better than it did during qualifying, but I have difficulties with the brake balance. In order to avoid the rear wheels locking I had to adjust the brake balance again and again. Once I actually spun. These kind of pit stops are of course always hell for a driver. I was very pleased with the tires, it was no problem to race for three stints on the same set. The only problem is that the car becomes difficult to drive when it is light, when the tank is empty."

Jvrg M|ller #42: "The set up of the car is still not really good. One has to drive really on the limit, it is quite difficult to avoid mistakes. The restart after the yellow caution was perfect for me, I could catch the Panoz, and thanks to the pit crew I knew exactly when race control switched the light to green. The race with Alboreto in the Audi was fun - first Steve managed to outbrake him, later I overtook him on the outside line. Steve I caught when I had been in his slipstream."

Bill Auberlen #43: "The beginning was really good, when I was driving in clean air in front of JJ. At the end my stint became really exciting. I got closer and closer to lap a Viper and thought the driver must see me, but it seems he did not. I left as much space as I possibly could, and I already had my wheels on the kerb when we touched."

Steve Soper #43: "I think I was good, but Jvrg was better. After a whole week of hard work we have now achieved the best set up we had during these days. This means we have made progress, even though it is not as good as it could be."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Jean-Marc Gounon , Steve Soper , Charly Lamm , JJ Lehto