BMW Team PTG M3s Finish Sixth and Ninth at Petit Le Mans Braselton, Ga. - September 30, 2006-- Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand and Boris Said, driving the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3, had to settle for a sixth place GT2 finish in today's Petit Le Mans after...
BMW Team PTG M3s Finish Sixth and Ninth at Petit Le Mans
Braselton, Ga. - September 30, 2006-- Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand and Boris Said, driving the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3, had to settle for a sixth place GT2 finish in today's Petit Le Mans after running third in the closing laps of the race. The trio completed 344 laps of the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit in the 1000-mile race, finishing 12 laps behind the winning Porsche. The No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 of Justin Marks, Bryan Sellers and Ian James finished ninth, completing 304 laps after electrical problems late in the third hour cost the team a better finish.
Bill Auberlen, in the No. 21 M3, and Ian James, in the No. 22 M3, started from the rear of the field after electing to change from their qualifying tires. The first caution period of the race came only 30 minutes after the green flag waved and both BMWs took advantage of the early yellow to pit for fuel. After racing in the seventh and eighth positions, the first driver change came during the second yellow flag, just before the one-hour mark. Joey Hand and Bryan Sellers took over, in the No. 21 and 22 M3s respectively, and held position as the race passed the two-hour mark. Sellers survived a scare on lap 49 when he was hit by a P1 car. He stayed on the track, but the resulting pit stop to check for damage ultimately cost the No. 22 M3 one lap. Said, in the No. 21, and Marks, in the No. 22, took over one hour later. Said lost two laps in the pits while the crew changed brake rotors. Bad luck soon struck the No. 22 M3 as well when a loss of electrical power brought Marks off to the side of the circuit on lap 145.
As the race moved toward the half-way point Auberlen began his second stint of the race and moved the No. 21 M3 into the sixth position. Marks was able to restart the No. 22 M3 just before the five- hour mark and he brought the car into the pits and then the garage for further repairs. James replaced Marks in the No. 22 M3 and rejoined the race 47 laps behind the class leaders. Auberlen pitted the No. 21 M3 shortly afterwards and Hand took over. Hand moved into the top-five at the six- hour-and-twenty-minute mark. He pitted 15 minutes later for Said to complete the second cycle of drivers in the No. 21 M3.
Auberlen replaced Said on lap 248 and by lap 302 had moved the No. 21 M3 into fourth, 30 seconds from third. The final caution period of the race allowed Auberlen to pit for new Yokohamas and a splash of fuel to ensure he could race to the end. Two laps after the restart, on lap 326, he moved into third and held off the charge of the fourth place Panoz for 16 laps. On lap 344 he made a rare mistake and spun into the gravel at the end of the back straight, ultimately finishing sixth. The No. 22, with Marks in the car for the final stint, took the checkered flag 40 laps in arrears to their teammates.
The 10th and final round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series will be held on October 21st at Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, Calif. Speed Channel will televise the race, tape-delayed, beginning at 11 p.m. ET.
BILL AUBERLEN, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (6th): "The team and my co-drivers did a great job today, but I made a mistake at the end and it cost us. It really hurts my heart to have let them down. The team deserves to be on the podium."
JOEY HAND, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (6th): "Sixth place certainly does not tell the story of our race after Bill drove so hard at the end to get that podium finish for us. All in all we can be proud of how hard we all worked to be able to race hard for 10 hours."
BORIS SAID, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (6th): "It was great to be back with BMW Team PTG one more time. Bill drove the wheels off the car to get us on the podium at the finish. Unfortunately it didn't end as we hoped, but that doesn't take anything away from the great effort made by everyone."
JUSTIN MARKS, DRIVER NO. 22 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (9th): "There was a fuse that I needed to find to fix our problem, but didn't know that it was inside a connector. Once I understood where it was I changed it and got us back to the pits. Unfortunately, the delay cost us any chance at a better finish."
BRYAN SELLERS, DRIVER NO. 22 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (9th): "It is very disappointing to have problems so early. The guys have worked hard all week and they don't really come for practice and qualifying. They come to race so it is really a shame."
IAN JAMES, DRIVER NO. 22 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (9th): "The first stint went well and we were encouraged to keep up with Bill and the No. 21 M3. It is always great to drive a BMW at Road Atlanta. Although we finished, the race was really over for us much too early."
TOM MILNER, OWNER BMW TEAM PTG: "Honestly, I don't feel so bad about our day today. Everyone worked very, very hard all week and we proved that we are competitive."
LARRY KOCH, BMW OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC MOTORSPOTS MANAGER: "This is a very long race and three hours in we were some two laps behind in the No. 21 M3. Six hours later we were holding onto a podium position. We may have come up short, but we proved again that we never give up."
2006 marks the 11th season of competition for the BMW Team PTG M3s and the first full season of ALMS competition since 2001. In 10 years, BMW Team PTG has won a total of 53 races in both sprint and endurance racing series and 14 sports car racing championships. In 2005, BMW Team PTG won 7 of 13 Rolex Sports Car Series races entered.
-credit: bmw team ptg