LUGGAGE EXPRESS TEAM SIGALSPORT FINISHED 14TH AT INFINEON Los Angeles, August 28, 2007 -- The No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW, co-driven by Bill Auberlen and Matt Alhadeff finished 14th in last Saturday's Armed Forces Grand-Am 250 at...
LUGGAGE EXPRESS TEAM SIGALSPORT FINISHED 14TH AT INFINEON
Los Angeles, August 28, 2007 -- The No. 05 Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW, co-driven by Bill Auberlen and Matt Alhadeff finished 14th in last Saturday's Armed Forces Grand-Am 250 at Infineon Raceway, California.
The all California team was racing at home but had a series of bad luck that did not allow the team and drivers to register an anticipated top five result. This 14th place finish does not totally jeopardize the chances of the team to finish in the top ten of the 2007 Rolex Series team point standings since two of the team's direct competitors finished behind the 05 car in the race. The Luggage Express Team Sigalsport BMW is now ranked 13th after Infineon and still has a chance to finish in the season's top ten if the team registers a very good result in three weeks at the Sunchaser 1000 KM of Utah scheduled for September 15.
The Infineon weekend started on Thursday with two practice sessions. Auberlen drove most of the sessions to try to find the best setup to have a competitive car for the race. Unfortunately the car battled a problem all day and the cause was only discovered on Friday morning, a few minutes before the first session of the day. The bell housing was broken. A crew member discovered the crack and the decision was made to miss the next practice session and install a backup bell housing in the car.
On Friday afternoon, Matt Alhadeff, who was the dedicated qualifying driver, took the car for the 15 minute qualifying session and the team rapidly saw that the problem was solved. Matt, who did not have a lot of practice time prior to the session, qualified 15th for Saturday's race.
In Saturday morning's warm-up, Auberlen and Alhadeff drove the car to prepare for the race. Bill was much happier than two days earlier and was convinced the 05 Luggage Express Sigalsport Dinan BMW Riley car had great chances to do well in the race.
Matt took the start of the race and got hit in the back by another competitor on lap 1. Alhadeff brought the car in to repair the damages after the completion of lap 1. The crew replaced the four tires including a broken wheel. Matt lost one lap in this incident and after 10 more laps was forced to pit again since a coil in the engine compartment needed to be replaced because of the lap 1 accident. This second pit stop had the team lose another lap. Bill took over the wheel after 50 minutes and drove for an hour trying to align faster and faster laps. Bill thought he had a good car but as there was nothing to be gained since the car was already two laps down, the team decided to put Matt back in the car for the last 40 minutes. This was done in anticipation of the next race to give Matt more race seat time to strengthen his skills. Matt had a good last 20 laps and took the car to the finish line in 14th place.