Bill Auberlen - record pace for BMW Bill Auberlen has driven BMW cars in more races than any other driver in the world. Of his 404 professional auto-racing starts, 247 have been in BMW-powered cars. But he is not content to rest on his record...
Bill Auberlen - record pace for BMW
Bill Auberlen has driven BMW cars in more races than any other driver in the world. Of his 404 professional auto-racing starts, 247 have been in BMW-powered cars. But he is not content to rest on his record -- he is aiming for an even greater margin in 2010. The Redondo Beach, Calif., driver will compete in 30 races in three series this year, all with BMW.
He will be behind the wheel of the No. 92 BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team BMW M3 in the American Le Mans Series, driving with Tommy Milner of Leesburg, Va., and Dirk Werner of Kissenbruck, Germany. Auberlen is also sharing driving duty with Paul Dalla Lana of Toronto in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
"I've driven for a lot of different manufacturers," Auberlen said. "When you get to the best, you try to stay with the best. BMW, by far, is better than any manufacturer I've ever driven for. You never want to leave; you do everything to stay. Luckily, I've been there for so many years and they keep giving me winning equipment. As a driver, that's all you can ask for."
This week's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway is the season-opener for the American Le Mans Series, but Auberlen's fifth race this year. He has already set a race-lap record, his 104th career record. In his typical style, he set the record charging from last to first without benefit of any pre-race practice laps.
"I have the passion more than ever, I want to win more than I ever have," he said. "When you're young, you're athletic and quick-reacting. When you're older, you're very smart, you can see situations. I'm at a time in my life where I can blend all of that -- I still have the speed, but I can also see a lot of situations. I can get rid of the bad ones quickly and I can maximize the good ones that are about to come."
Auberlen has raced in multiple series at Sebring, sometimes competing in three races on the same weekend. In 1996, he drove in three classes in the 12-hour race. Saturday's enduro will be his 17th 12-hour race and his 30th start on the challenging Florida track.
"Sebring is an amazing place," he said. "I've won eight times here in many different categories, I've been on the pole eight times, I've set 12 records. I've done the '36 Hours of Sebring', driving three cars in the same race. I know the way to victory lane.
"The track has changed over the years, but what has remained consistent is it is tough. It's rough, it's hard on tires, it's hard on cars. It's so tough on suspension. It is just grueling. It's a balancing act -- you're trying to save your equipment while making it go faster than everybody else's.
"At Sebring, I get an inner feeling about how hard to push. The car translates it and tells me if I'm going over the limit. It's a place that has always spoken to me really well and given me really good feedback about how to treat the car. If I were to try to teach someone else, it would be hard because it's coming more from a non-thinking perspective. It's coming from instinct and from experience."
Auberlen's resume includes 78 race wins -- in Canada, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Peru, Puerto Rico and the United States -- and 152 podium finishes -- add the Czech Republic, Germany and Mexico. He has won six professional championships, earned 55 pole positions (41 with record qualifying laps) and set 70 fastest race laps (49 record).
He's ready to add to those numbers, starting this week.
"If ever I had a year to increase my stats, this is it," he confirmed. "I've been to Sebring a lot of times, won it a lot of times, almost never had a better opportunity to win it than this year. Anything can go wrong or right, but in terms of preparation and great teams and great co-drivers, this is as good as it gets. We've got all the pieces."
-source: bill auberlen PR/sp