Sebring; BMW prototypes set to take control in Round One

Final Qualifying Thursday Round 1, American Le Mans Series 16th March 2000, Sebring, Florida Munich/Sebring. BMW works drivers JJ Lehto (FIN) and J”rg Mller (D) will start the 12-hour race at Sebring from 5th position in their BMW ...

Final Qualifying Thursday Round 1, American Le Mans Series 16th March 2000, Sebring, Florida

Munich/Sebring. BMW works drivers JJ Lehto (FIN) and J”rg Mller (D) will start the 12-hour race at Sebring from 5th position in their BMW V12 LMR. Lehto qualified the open sports car while lapping the 3.7 mile (5.95 km) circuit in 1 minute 50.491 seconds. Team mates Bill Auberlen (USA), Jean-Marc Gounon (F) and Steve Soper (GB) qualified in 6th grid position. Auberlen lapped in 1 minute 50.940 seconds with the BMW V12 LMR which was repaired by the team after an all-night effort following an accident by Gounon during the first qualifying on Wednesday.

BMW Motorsport Team Manager Charly Lamm: The positive thing is that Bill, after having driven very little, was immediately nearly as quick as JJ with car #42. This also shows that car #43 is basically alright again after yesterday's accident. Not so positive is that we are still not happy with the handling of the car #42. I hope we will improve it before the race. Regarding the set-up of both cars, we still have a couple of ideas in mind."

JJ Lehto #42: Well, the time could have been a bit better, but I nearly lost the car in the first lap at the first corner, when I got on to the grass. Of course the tires were not as good as they were supposed to be for my second lap."

J”rg Mller #42: I am really looking forward to the race. When the flag drops, the winter stops! I am happy to drive with JJ. We have a good relationship and if you are two instead of three drivers sharing a car of course it is easier to agree about set-up and driving time."

Bill Auberlen #43: On fresh tires the balance of the car feels really good, but we still have to improve the set-up for the longer runs. I remain optimistic."

Jean-Marc Gounon #43: Bill did very well and the team did a superb job overnight. I just could not believe it when I saw the car being completely repaired when I arrived in the paddock this morning. I am very proud of these guys and I hope they can go to bed soon."

Steve Soper #43: At the moment none of us drivers is happy with the cars, because we did not manage to get the balance right for the race. But we will not give up as we still have one day to go before the race."

Hans-Joachim Stuck #6 (BMW M3, BMW Team PTG): My team mate Boris Said did well in qualifying 8th in the GT class. Our brand-new BMW M3 looks promising at its first appearance. Right from the start it feels much more like a race car than the previous model. Regarding the development Sebring is not a very good stage to play on, because it is just flat, no up-hills and down-hills. For example, one does not use this setting of shock absorbers anywhere else."

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Series ALMS
Drivers Hans-Joachim Stuck , Boris Said , Bill Auberlen , Jean-Marc Gounon , Steve Soper , Charly Lamm , JJ Lehto