Silverstone BMW extents championship lead

Round 3, American Le Mans Series, 13th May 2000, Silverstone, Great Britain Munich/Silverstone. With JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller scoring their second successive victory, BMW extended its championship lead in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). At...

Round 3, American Le Mans Series, 13th May 2000, Silverstone, Great Britain

Munich/Silverstone. With JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller scoring their second successive victory, BMW extended its championship lead in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). At the end of the 500 kilometre race at Silverstone, Muller crossed the line in his BMW V12 LMR just 33.453 seconds ahead of the Panoz of David Brabham, who partnered Jan Magnussen. Rinaldo Capello brought home the Audi R8 which he shared with Allan McNish in third place (1 minute 44.322 seconds behind). With this result in the third round of the ALMS, BMW extended the championship lead in all categories - teams, chassis and engine manufacturer. In the drivers points standing Muller is leading with 78 points ahead of Lehto (76).

BMW Motorsport Director Dr. Mario Theissen attended the race. "Even serious set-up difficulties in practice did not stop us. This shows what counts in a race: reliability, team strategy and a strong driver effort. With our other car we had the second retirement out of a total 20 starts with the BMW V12 LMR due to a technical problem. Jean-Marc Gounon had to switch the engine off after 56 of 98 laps." The Frenchman had just taken over from team mate Bill Auberlen and drove to seventh position. Theissen: "It's hard to believe how well things are going for BMW Motorsport these days, whereever we go, in Formula One or sports cars."

For Lehto and Muller the strategy paid off. During a full course yellow the team serviced Lehto's car after just 24 laps and at that early stage, fitted it with a fresh set of Michelin tyres in order to race at maximum speed when rivals might feel their tyres losing efficiency. At the next fuel stop, at the end of lap 56, Lehto handed the car over to Muller, again on fresh tyres, and the German came in for a quick fuel stop only 10 laps before the finish.

BMW Motorsport Team Manager Charly Lamm said: "This is a very special win which means a lot to us. Although we had difficult practice days the team did not lose motivation. The stops were perfect and our drivers were tough. At no time of this race were we the fastest on track, but we always found ourselves the opportunity to make the most of situations and we took the right decisions."

Meanwhile the team in the garage knew exactly what was going on in the confusing final laps, but Muller did not. "When I spoke in the first microphone I was not aware that we had won," he said. "I am so happy, I cannot tell you. The most frightening moment in this race I had before it was my turn to drive. I got locked in the toilet and had to break the door, and I nearly missed the pit stop."

His beaming team mate Lehto said: "This win is really special as it was so unexpected. I had found a rhythm in the race although the car was still hard to drive. And I was absolutely sure, that Jorg would be very good today."

BMW driver Hans-Joachim Stuck did also well in that ALMS race. He drove the final stint in the BMW M3 which he shared with Boris Said and Johannes van Overbeek and set the trio's fastest lap with the new coupe. Stuck crossed the line in sixth position in the GT class.

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Jan Magnussen , Allan McNish , Hans-Joachim Stuck , Boris Said , Jorg Muller , Jean-Marc Gounon , Mario Theissen , Charly Lamm , JJ Lehto