Laguna Seca: BMW Team PTG race report

No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 Eighth in the Monterey Sports Car Championships Monterey, Calif. - October 21, 2006-- Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand, driving the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3, finished eighth in today's American Le Mans Series Monterey Sports Car...

No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 Eighth in the Monterey Sports Car Championships

Monterey, Calif. - October 21, 2006-- Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand, driving the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3, finished eighth in today's American Le Mans Series Monterey Sports Car Championships. The duo completed 139 laps of the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca circuit in the four hour race, finishing 10 laps behind the winning Ferrari. Running as high as fourth in the closing stages, Auberlen and Hand had to settle for an eighth place finish after mechanical problems forced them to take the checkered flag in the pit lane. The No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 of Justin Marks and Bryan Sellers was forced to retire following a collision on lap 80.

Auberlen started the No. 21 M3 from the seventh position, but on the second lap found himself in the gravel after being hit by a competitor. Luckily the race's first caution period came only a lap later and he was able to catch up with the field and not lose a lap. After the green flag waved on lap 6 Auberlen regained the seventh place and Sellers, in the No. 22 M3, followed in eighth. The second caution period of the race proved not to be so fortuitous as both Auberlen and Sellers, passed by the overall race leader just before the yellow flag waved, lost a lap as the rest of the field was allowed to gain an extra lap.

At the one hour mark Auberlen was sixth. One half-hour later he pitted and Hand took over and moved the No. 21 M3 into fifth as the race moved past the half-way point. Sellers, in eighth, came to the pits with a suspected flat tire. One lap later it was determined that the problem was a broken right front suspension. The crew made quick repairs in the garage and, with Marks now behind the wheel, the No. 22 M3 rejoined the race, losing only 10 laps.

Hand took advantage of the race's third caution period to pit for fuel and tires and moved the No. 21 M3 into fourth. On the restart the No. 22 M3 was hit and the resulting damage to right front corner of the car forced the team to retire after completing only 80 laps.

As the fourth caution of the race continued the team called Hand to the pits on lap 95 for just enough fuel to finish the race. The gamble never got a chance to pay off as miscommunication with IMSA officials saw Hand stop while the pits were closed. The resulting cost was a one minute and 15 second penalty and no hope of a podium finish.

Hand soldiered on in sixth until a misfire forced him to the pits on lap 139. Time ran out as the crew affected repairs and the No. 21 M3 finished the race in pit lane, falling to an eighth place finish.

The Monterey Sports Car Championships ends the most successful chapter so far of the BMW of North America racing story. 2006 marks the 11th and final season of competition for the BMW Team PTG M3s. In 12 years, BMW Team PTG won a total of 53 of 118 races entered, bringing BMW 14 sports car racing championships.

BILL AUBERLEN, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (8th): "We came here to win like every weekend and PTG proved themselves as the best crew in the paddock by winning the Pit Crew Challenge. Unfortunately, we just don't have what it takes to win on the track. Even though we didn't have the fire power of our competition this season, I am not surprised that we did as well as we did in some of the races this season. Everyone works like winners - every minute, every lap."

JOEY HAND, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (8th): "For where we were through out the weekend, going for longevity instead of speed, the day just didn't end in our favor. The car was working well and the plan to outlast our competition was happening. We hung on and hung on. We were in fourth close to the end and perhaps had a shot at the podium. Unfortunately we pitted while the pits were closed and that finished it for us."

JUSTIN MARKS, DRIVER NO. 22 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (dnf): "I'm certainly disappointed in how the race ended today. The guys at the front were driving, I believe, unnecessarily aggressively. I tried to let the leader by me, but he hit me anyway and the result was that our race was over."

BRYAN SELLERS, DRIVER NO. 22 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (dnf): "Had things gone our way today the outcome would have certainly been different, but once a race starts to go downhill it is hard to stop it. We had a decent run going. Not enough to fight for the win, but we were better than we had been all weekend. I am very appreciative of how hard everyone worked this season."

RICHARD BREKUS, BMW OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC MANAGER OF PRODUCT PLANNING AND STRATEGY: "Today's race was another example of a season full of challenges and is a tough end to a tough season. We got a lap down early in the race and had to battle back all day. Today's result may have been disappointing, but is a small thing when put in the context of the longest and most successful BMW racing program ever in North America. Racing is an extremely passionate business, BMW is passionate about racing, and in Tom Milner and Prototype Technology Group we found a partner who shared BMW's vision and desire to achieve goals worthy of The Ultimate Driving Machine."

-credit: bmw team ptg

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Series ALMS
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Justin Marks , Bryan Sellers