Daytona 24: BMW Team PTG final report

Bad Luck Rains on BMW Team PTG's Return to Daytona Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 1, 2004) -- BMW Team PTG had a disappointing end to the 42nd Rolex 24 at Daytona after a very good start as both BMW M3s were retired from the race before the ...

Bad Luck Rains on BMW Team PTG's Return to Daytona

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 1, 2004) -- BMW Team PTG had a disappointing end to the 42nd Rolex 24 at Daytona after a very good start as both BMW M3s were retired from the race before the halfway point. The No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 raced in the top-three GT-class positions for most of the race, but on lap 267 an overheating problem forced the car to the garage and, ultimately, to retirement.

Nic Jonsson started the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 and moved the car carefully up to fifth in class before he turned the car over to Boris Said at the 1.25-hour mark. Just past the two- hour mark the previously forecast rain moved over the Speedway and the No. 22 M3 pitted for rain tires.

Said stayed in and over the next two hours picked off car after car. When he turned the car over to Joey Hand at the four-hour mark the No. 22 M3 was in second place and 11th overall. The only problem was a broken windshield wiper that made it very difficult for the Team PTG drivers to see as the rain intensified. Hand double-stinted his very first endurance racing start and held the second position. He handed the car off to Justin Marks at the 5.45 race mark and Marks double-stinted in his endurance race debut as well.

He handed the M3 to Said at the 7.15 mark. Said pitted for new rain tires and fuel 45 minutes later and stayed in the car until Bill Auberlen entered the No. 22 M3 for the first time in the race at the 9.40 mark.

Auberlen's return was short-lived as he lost a number of laps while the wiper drive was repaired in the garage. He re-joined the race in fourth position, but at the 10.40 mark the No. 22 M3 was forced to the pits with overheating problems. The first two-and-one-half hours of the race was as much a test for the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 mechanics as it was for the drivers. After jumping into the GT class lead right after the green flag waved Bill Auberlen was forced to the pits with an engine misfire on lap four.

After a number of pit stops an electrical problem was fixed and he re-joined the race with full power, but some 11 laps in arrears. Only ten laps later the left front suspension had a failure that required a long stay in the garage to repair. Auberlen handed the car off to Nic Jonsson at the 3.25 mark, but Jonsson was back in the pits to repair the right front suspension just a few laps later after a competitor hit him. Jonsson lost a number of laps, but continued.

As the race entered its second quarter, rain continued to fall on the Daytona International Speedway and bad luck continued to rain on the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3. After fighting through a number of electrical and mechanical problems in the first six hours of the race the car picked up a terminal vibration and was retired at the 7.30-race mark after completing 162 laps.

"Knowing how hard it was to win this race as BMW Team PTG did in 1997 and 1998 does not make it any easier to lose here," said BMW Team PTG owner Tom Milner. "We ran hard and had the No. 22 M3 almost always in the top-three until we could not continue. While Bill, Boris and Nic have proven themselves capable many times over it was a pleasure to see Joey and Justin stepping up in very difficult racing conditions to prove themselves as BMW drivers."

The next race of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series is on February 26-28 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.

-bmw-

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson