Sears Point BMW Team PTG Race Report

BMW Wins Prototype and GT Classes in Sonoma SONOMA, Calif. (July 25, 1999) -- BMW competed in two of the three classes in the Grand Prix of Sonoma, the fourth of eight races in the American Le Mans Series, and won both. While the BMW...

BMW Wins Prototype and GT Classes in Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. (July 25, 1999) -- BMW competed in two of the three classes in the Grand Prix of Sonoma, the fourth of eight races in the American Le Mans Series, and won both. While the BMW V12 of J.J. Lehto and Steve Soper dominated the prototype category and won the two-hour 45-minute race at Sears Point Raceway overall, the BMW M3 of Hans Stuck and Boris Said waged a race-long battle with Porsche to claim the GT class victory in the final lap. Boris Said of Carlsbad, Calif., posted BMW Team PTG's quickest qualifying time, covering the 2.52-mile road course in one minute, 36.645 seconds at an average speed of 93.869 miles per hour. He started the No. 9 M3 third in class and moved up to second after 45 minutes. Hans Stuck of Austria took the wheel just past the halfway point and held second until a late full-course caution period gave him the opportunity he needed. With only one lap remaining after the restart, Stuck, positioned directly behind the No. 23 Manthey Racing Porsche, made an expert pass in traffic and held the lead to the finish for his second series victory. "Boris did a fantastic first stint in the race, so he gave me the basement for the win," Stuck said. "He did a good job in the first and I did a good job to pass [Porsche driver Cort] Wagner one lap from the end. It was not difficult, but it was the kind of thing to do because I only had one chance." "It was just a great day! The Porsche was faster in qualifying, but we knew we had a good, consistent race car. I stuck to our game plan, just ran and stayed out of trouble and kept the car in good shape," Said noted. "What can you say about Hans? The BMW M3 is the ultimate driving machine, but Hans is the ultimate driver. He got the win for us." Ironically, an engine failure on the No. 6 BMW M3 gave Stuck the opening to win. Brian Cunningham of Danville, Ky., co-driving with Mark Simo of Carlsbad, was driving when the engine expired with about 20 minutes remaining in the race. The resulting caution period closed the gap between Stuck and the Porsche. Cunningham moved to the No. 6 M3 when his own No. 7 car, driven by Christian Menzel of Germany, went out of the race on the third lap with a broken half-shaft. Peter Cunningham of West Bend, Wis., usually paired with Simo in the No. 6, did not drive. The No. 7 M3 started fourth and the No. 6 started seventh. The fourth BMW Team PTG car also experienced difficulty, but still posted a third-place finish. Darren Law of Phoenix, driving with BMW Team PTG for the first time this season, started the No. 10 M3 fifth on the 15-car GT grid. He moved up to third before Johannes van Overbeek of Danville, Calif., took over. Van Overbeek was clipped by another car on a late-race restart, so had to make an extra pitstop for a left-rear tire. "Everything went so good. The team prepped the car well and it was good for most of the run. It got a little slippery at the end, but I just drove hard and hung in there. I couldn't ask for anything better! I was driving hard, I was really working the car. I had Boris in sight and kept one of the Porsches behind me. We built up enough lead in the beginning, so Johannes ran it good in the end and we had it easy at the finish," Law said. "I really have to thank Darren. His stint was all the work and my stint was during the yellows," van Overbeek said. "Except for the flat tire, it was a wonderful day. The Yokohama/Flextronics/Level One BMW was perfect! I can't wait for Portland." Team owner Tom Milner was cautious. "It feels good, but don't forget we got lucky," he explained. "The Porsche number 23 clearly had us, but the brilliance of the 'two old men' gave us the victory. It's especially nice because it's the first time against the new Porsche and to beat them is good for the team." BMW Team PTG and the four Yokohama/Flextronics/Level One M3s will leave for Portland, Ore., on Tuesday to prepare for the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix - Portland on Aug. 1.

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Series ALMS
Drivers J.J. Lehto , Boris Said , Darren Law , Peter Cunningham , Johannes van Overbeek , Brian Cunningham , Steve Soper , Christian Menzel