Turner Motorsport Takes a Fighting Fifth in Dubai Debut
16 January 2011-- Turner Motorsport got a fast start to the 2011 racing season by making a round-the-world venture to Dubai to compete in the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai this weekend.
Joining with the renowned Team Schubert organization for the effort, the campaign saw the squads Dream Team Rolex 24 At Daytona driver line up of Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana, Boris Said, and Matt Plumb bounce back from challenging circumstances to bring home a fifth place finish in Turner Motorsport's debut run in the event. The sister Team Schubert No. 76 BMW Z4 GT3 entry claimed victory.
After setting fast times at the "World Center of Racing" in testing with the new BMW M3 that Turner will campaign in the Rolex Sports Car Series starting at Daytona on January 29, the group hit the jetway for the trip to Dubai. Despite never having seen the circuit previously, the foursome were up to speed quickly with Said posting a strong performance in qualifying. Unfortunately, a brake issue caused an accident as the No. 77 BMW Z4 GT3 suffered significant damage on the final day of running before race day.
The idea of joining forces with Schubert showed itself to be an excellent one for team principal Will Turner, as the Schubert group repaired the damage and had the machine ready to go in time for the race start.
With one of the the fastest laps of the race, and a very deep roster of talent behind the wheel, it was no surprise to see the No. 77 move to the top of the charts early in the huge race. But with over eighty entries competing through the distance in a 24 hour event, there are always challenges and the effort ultimately was compromised late in the day.
"The second car had a problem with the exhaust during the closing stages, which meant exhaust fumes were leaking into the cockpit," explained Stefan Wendl, Team Manager. "Bill Auberlen came into the pits to solve the problem. In the end we came away with fifth place. Thanks to everyone in the team, and to BMW Motorsport, our tyre partner Dunlop, and our sponsor EA. I don't think there could hardly be a much better advertisement for the game Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed."
While the fifth place result was not what the Turner group had been looking for, the race outing still qualified as Mission Accomplished on wide a range of fronts.
"We achieved what we set out to this weekend," offered Turner. "We wanted to get the four drivers together and prepare together for the big races in America starting with the Rolex 24. I think our drivers are now better attuned to each other. My thanks go to the Schubert team. They accommodated us very well, and we worked as a team."
Paul Dalla Lana: "Our car ran absolutely perfectly, only the exhaust fumes in the cockpit got to us in the last two hours. Bill, Boris, Matt and I learned a lot this weekend. Now we want to do better at Daytona in two weeks, and come away with an even stronger result."
Bill Auberlen: "Schubert Motorsport has done a fantastic job. The BMW Z4 GT3 was very quick, reliable and comfortable to drive. The week here in Dubai has been a magnificent experience - we drivers have learned a lot about the car and the circuit. Thanks to Paul and everyone who made this race possible for us."
Boris Said: "It was a good race on a great circuit. The team worked brilliantly, especially after the crash on Thursday evening. The victory for our sister car showed just what is possible with the BMW Z4 GT3. Congratulations to our team-mates on their great success."
Matt Plumb: "I am delighted for the entire team. To finish fifth is, however, is a bit unsatisfactory for me, as we could also have been right up there at the front of the field. Unfortunately not everything went entirely to plan with our car: a crash on Friday set us back a bit. Unfortunately we were never able to fully recover from this set-back. However, I am certain that we can achieve a lot with this driving line-up at other races. Boris, Bill and Paul are real winners."
The Z4 machine wasn't the only BMW in action during the event, as Will Turner and fellow Champion co-driver Don Salama were reunited for another run for victory, this time aiming for a win in the D1 class with the BMW 120D the duo shared with Toto Lassally and Hal Prewitt. The effort got off to a quick start, with Turner and Salama running in podium contention only to suffer a terminal mechanical setback that ended the day early for the effort, which was also aiming to raise funds through everylapcounts.org.
The Turner Motorsport organization will continue preparations for the team's next big racing endevour with two races at Daytona International Speedway at the end of the month. TMS will stage a two-car entry in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge using two BMW M3 machines in Friday's (Jan 28) race before taking the green flag for the 49th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona with the BMW M3 entry driven by Auberlen, Dalla Lana, Plumb, and Said.
-source: turner motorsport