LUGGAGE EXPRESS TEAM SIGALSPORT BMW WITH AUBERLEN AND ALHADEFF WRITE HISTORY BY SCORING FIRST WIN AT GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI Los Angeles, CA. (March 26, 2007): In just their eighth Daytona Prototype start as a team, No. 05 Luggage Express Team ...
LUGGAGE EXPRESS TEAM SIGALSPORT BMW WITH AUBERLEN AND ALHADEFF WRITE HISTORY BY SCORING FIRST WIN AT GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI
Los Angeles, CA. (March 26, 2007): In just their eighth Daytona Prototype start as a team, No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW Riley co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff scored their first career Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve overall victory in Saturday's Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
With 11 laps remaining, Auberlen swept to the inside of 2005 Daytona Prototype co-champion, Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley in Turn 6 and came out with the lead in a textbook maneuver. Auberlen then spent the remaining laps keeping Angelelli and the rest of the field in his mirrors and the two-time Rolex Series GT champion went on to win the race by 1.759 seconds.
"First of all, it feels unbelievable," Auberlen said. "It came earlier than I even expected. I knew we had a learning curve with the car. The team has a gelling curve, where everybody has to come together. It's all coming together so fast. We've got a good motor program now, and everything is good, so to win this one, it's one of the best wins I've ever had. It was one of the hardest-fought wins I ever had to do."
"As far as the pass on Angelelli goes, on the restart before that, I was much faster than him, but it was like he drove in his mirrors. Everywhere I went, that's where he wound up. I was like, 'I can't go by, so I have to make myself invisible.' If you put a Daytona Prototype right behind another one, they can't see you. I tucked right up behind him to where I knew he couldn't see me, waited for his brake lights to come on, and when he did that, I went just a second longer. It was too much for him. For him to do it, we would have had to wreck. I passed him, went out, and the car was strong."
For Alhadeff, who drove the first 21 laps before turning the car over to Auberlen under the day's second of seven full-course cautions, it was his first professional race victory. It was the 25-year-old Alhadeff's eighth Daytona Prototype start and 26th overall Rolex Series start in a career that began in May 2005.
"This is one of the greatest days of my entire life," Alhadeff said. "I'm so happy for my whole team and for my family and for myself. We've been working so hard to do this. We've been there a couple of times and it's gotten taken away from us for whatever reason. Now, we finally did it. It was a well-deserved finish, because we struggled in the beginning with some of the things that happened on the track and a pit stop that wasn't that great. Everybody just pulled through. Bill Auberlen, man, that guy is unbelievable."
"I am so happy for the team and our drivers and our supporters, fans, our sponsors including Luggage Express whose headquarters is only an hour away from Miami. This was definitely where we needed to win our first overall win!" said Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW team owner Gene Sigal. "I want to thank my team for their tremendous work as well as our two drivers Bill and Matt for their great race. The team has worked 24/7 for the last six months and that finally paid off. This is the most successful day of our team's life. I started Sigalsport in 2004 to compete in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and we gradually moved up the ladder from SGS racing to Daytona Prototype racing. The result is that in less than three years, and only eight DP races, we managed to win and beat the best endurance racing teams on the planet. This is sweet." Gene continued. "I want to thank the Alhadeff family for their continuous support and trust in our abilities to take their son Matt to the highest level of the podium" added Gene Sigal.
"I also want to thank our associate sponsors enVista, Guarneros Racing Wear, Piloti Driving Shoes, Mechanix, MOTUL, HELLA and OMP America and I give a special thanks to Galina and Vadim Vaynter from BZCOM Communications and Arthur Kats from Fortune Market Financial Network for putting the Universal Express sponsorship deal for the next three seasons together. This is only our third race with our sponsor Universal Express division Luggage Express whose primary goal is to create brand visibility and increase the Luggage Express name and company awareness. The Speed TV television coverage and our winning result delivered them just that", Gene continued.
This is only the second BMW Dinan V8 engine win in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. The first one was in Mexico City in 2005.
"We now have to confirm that we can run in front at all the races. We have a great package. Dinan BMW and Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW have worked together to develop the BMW engine package on and off the track and will continue to do so until we are perfect. We are testing next week here in California to make sure we keep the team busy and in the winning mode", announced Sigal after the race.