Auberlen and Hand Take Grand American 400 GT Victory; BMW Team PTG M3s Finish 1st, 6th, 7th and 12th Fontana, Calif. - April 3, 2005-- The No. 21BMW Team PTG M3 of Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand won the GT class of today's Grand American 400,...
Auberlen and Hand Take Grand American 400 GT Victory; BMW Team PTG M3s Finish 1st, 6th, 7th and 12th
Fontana, Calif. - April 3, 2005-- The No. 21BMW Team PTG M3 of Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand won the GT class of today's Grand American 400, moving BMW to second in Manufacturer Points. It was the first victory of the 2005 season for the defending GT class champions. Starting from the pole, the duo covered 84 laps in the two-hour-and-forty-five-minute contest, finishing ahead of the No. 65 Porsche.
Not an easy race, the contest was marked by six caution periods that required smart pit strategy by Team PTG to gain advantage over a very competitive 24-car GT field.
After falling to second on the lap 14 restart, Auberlen pitted for fuel only during the second yellow- flag to regain the lead. He held the point and it was the fifth caution period of the race that proved pivotal for the win. Just within the window to make it a one-stop race, Auberlen was able to pit the No. 21 M3 under caution. Hand entered the car on lap 46 and, though challenged towards the end of the race, held on for the win.
The No 22 BMW Team PTG M3 of Chris Gleason and Ian James finished sixth after starting fifth.
The No. 16 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3 of Tom Milner and Justin Marks started second and ran just behind the leading No. 21 M3 for a great part of the race. Unfortunately, their effort was undone by a broken coolant fitting. Marks had to pit for repairs with only 25 minutes remaining in the race. They finished seventh, with Milner setting the fast lap of the race (1:41.545) on lap two.
After running in the top-10, the No. 17 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3 of RJ Valentine and Kelly Collins dropped back in the field late in the race after pitting for tires. They finished twelfth.
Round four of the Rolex Sports Car Series will take place on April 29 - May 1 at Laguna Seca Raceway.
BILL AUBERLEN, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3: "The race proved to be uneventful. We ran to the numbers and that can get to be a little stressful because you feel you should be doing more. The M3 was great at the end and Joey could race with anyone. I think our strategy of pitting for fuel only early was the right one as it enabled us to make the race on only one more stop. That meant the tires were fresher at the end. Let's look to string these wins together like we did last season."
JOEY HAND, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3: "It is good to be back on top. Everyone told me that this place would be tough for us, but I said that the M3 was great through the bumpy infield last year and that would make a difference. We were a little closer to the Porsches on the straights, but the way we can roll through the middle of the corners made up for what we lacked on the banking."
TOM MILNER, OWNER BMW TEAM PTG: "I think the performance of the GT class is now as close as it has ever been. It was a good day for PTG, but my happiness is tempered by the fact that we did not receive a wave-by during the first caution period."
HERNANDO CARVAJAL, BMW OF NORTH AMERICA MOTORSPORTS MANAGER: "After a particularly rough start to the season, it is great to have the BMW M3 back on top. It looked like we could have had a 1-2 M3 finish, but we had a small mechanical problem. We'll see if we can keep the wins coming."