BMW V12 podium finish at Sebring

Round 1, American Le Mans Series 18th March 2000, Sebring, Florida Another podium for the BMW V12 LMR During the second half of the Sebring 12-Hour race the BMW V12 LMR sportscars kept pace with the two Audis in the top four. Once again...

Round 1, American Le Mans Series 18th March 2000, Sebring, Florida

Another podium for the BMW V12 LMR

During the second half of the Sebring 12-Hour race the BMW V12 LMR sportscars kept pace with the two Audis in the top four. Once again the BMW V12 LMR was on the podium, and in fact the 1999 Le Mans winning model has never failed to finish in the top three since BMW Motorsport entered the American Le Mans Series full-time after the Le Mans victory.

The BMW #42 of JJ Lehto and Jvrg M|ller remained ahead of their team-mates Bill Auberlen, Jean-Marc Gounon and Steve Soper. When the Audi #78 had a longer pit stop during the ninth hour, Lehto took the opportunity to go onto the same lap as the leader. But Lehto/M|ller then dropped a lap behind when it became necessary to change a front brake disc.

Car #42 stopped after laps 150 (fuel), 177 (fuel, tires, M|ller handed over to Lehto), 205 (fuel), 233 (fuel, tires, M|ller handed over to Lehto), 262 (fuel, cleaning lights), 289 (fuel), 299 (under yellow, fuel, tires), 301 (new brake disc and pads left front, Lehto handed over to M|ller), 328 (fuel), 357 (fuel).

Car #43 stopped after laps 145 (fuel), 173 (fuel), 196 (fuel, tires, Gounon handed over to Soper - five laps early because of a minor collision which damaged the front bodywork), 224 (fuel), 251 (fuel, tires, Soper handed over to Auberlen), 279 (fuel), 299 (under yellow, fuel, tires, Auberlen handed over to Gounon), 328 (fuel, cleaning lights), 355 (fuel).

BMW Motorsport Team Manager Charly Lamm: "It was an absolutely thrilling race. Unlike the others, we have no new car developed for this season. But the one we have has shown its qualities - today mainly reliability. It is not good enough yet. Potentialy it could have been half a second faster per lap. And if so we would have been a big contender for victory."

JJ Lehto #42: "I was extremely tired after my triple stint in the dark. At the moment the car really takes a lot of effort to drive quickly. I had to pit twice under yellow, because we realised during the first stop that the brake-disc at the left front needed to be changed. "

Jvrg M|ller #42: "My first of two stints was alright with good and consistent lap times. But in the second stint I had a problem which I experienced already once at Le Mans. My right leg fell completely numb because of a trapped nerve, and I lost about two seconds a lap. All in all I was very careful because I did not expect a trouble free night. The most important thing was to bring the car home in one piece."

Bill Auberlen #43: "I have never ever driven so hard to find myself one-and-a-half laps behind the leader in fourth place. The competition was very strong. Congratulations to Audi - they gave us quite a lot of homework before the next race."

Jean-Marc Gounon #43: "In the afternoon I drove three stints in a row. During the first one I was very careful, especially after I had the big accident in practice two days ago. I need as much mileage as possible with the car - my team mates are more experienced with it. During my second stint I felt very confident, so we decided to go with the tires for a third stint. But after ten laps I struggled with oversteer everywhere. I locked the rear wheels when the Panoz overtook me, lost the car and spun. For my personal driving style I will have to work a lot with the engineers to get rid of the oversteer. I am sure, as soon we get the set-up of the rear right, we are going to be fully competitive. "

Steve Soper #43: "Today we paid the price for not getting the car set up before the race. I do not believe any competitor basically has a better car, but we did not get the maximum out of ours."

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Jean-Marc Gounon , Steve Soper , Charly Lamm , JJ Lehto