PTG BMW M3s, on a Winning Roll, Head to Mid-Ohio For U.S. Road Racing Classic Weekend LEXINGTON, Ohio, June 5, 1998: The dog days of summer are still a couple of weeks away, but already the Winchester, Va.-based Prototype Technology...
PTG BMW M3s, on a Winning Roll, Head to Mid-Ohio For U.S. Road Racing Classic Weekend
LEXINGTON, Ohio, June 5, 1998: The dog days of summer are still a couple of weeks away, but already the Winchester, Va.-based Prototype Technology Group (PTG) BMW M3 racing team finds itself at a crucial make-or-break point in the sports car racing season.
Next weekend's (June 12-14) U.S. Road Racing Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course kicks off a grueling back-to-back-to-back stretch in the schedule that moves to Road Atlanta the following weekend (June 19-21), and culminates on the downtown streets of Minneapolis (June 27-28).
And in that stretch, there are not one, but two sets of driver's, team and manufacturer's championships at stake as the schedule flip-flops between rival sanctioning bodies. The 2-1/2-hour combined Can-Am/GT race at Mid-Ohio and the Minneapolis street race are sanctioned by the revived United States Road Racing Championship. Sandwiched in between is Road Atlanta (near Gainesville, Ga.), sanctioned by Professional Sports Car Racing, Inc.
"It's a challenge to compete in two series in the same season," says PTG BMW M3 team owner Tom Milner, whose troops are unbeaten in five events this season. "But, we just come to the track focused on winning the race. And in the end, the points championships will sort themselves out."
The latest task at hand is to sort out a technically challenging 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio road course on which PTG's ever-reliable Nos. 10 and 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-doors have yet to turn a wheel.
"Fortunately, although the cars haven't seen the track," says Scott Doniger, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America, Inc., "with our talented corps of drivers and PTG crew we have seasoned veterans at Mid-Ohio. And they've proven time and again that they're quick to bring our BMW M3s up to speed most anywhere we go."
A streak of 21 wins in the last 23 outings for BMW M3s on multiple tracks and, now, in multiple series, attests to their ability to adapt quickly.
Bill Auberlen, defending SPORTS CAR GT3 driver's champion from Redondo Beach, Calif., is just one of the Mid-Ohio fans in the PTG camp. "Oh, how I love this place," says Auberlen, who's recorded Formula Atlantic and IMSA GTU victories, and lap records at Mid-Ohio in seasons past. "It's a tricky place to drive, with combinations of fast and slow corners, and all of its elevation changes. Our BMWs are the easiest and most versatile race cars I've ever driven. So I think we should be able to adapt in relatively short order."
Auberlen leads a quartet of PTG drivers for this event that includes fellow Mid-Ohio veterans Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif. (SCCA Trans-Am, IMSA Endurance Challenge), and Ross Bentley, of Vancouver, B.C., Canada (Indy cars). And despite being a Mid-Ohio first-timer, PTG's Mark Simo, of Carlsbad, Calif., has proven to be a quick study with a pair of GT3 wins already this season.
The U.S. Road Racing Classic Can-Am/GT race is set for 2 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, June 14, and will be broadcast live by Speedvision.
AUBERLEN, DUEZ COMPETE IN 24 HOURS OF LE MANS PTG's Bill Auberlen, named a factory driver for BMW AG this season, is co-driving a BMW V12-powered McLaren F1 GTR in the GT1 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 6-7). Auberlen is also competing this season in the International Sports Racing Series (ISRS), driving a BMW-powered Riley & Scott World Sports Car for Team Rafanelli. PTG teammate and BMW AG factory driver Marc Duez was granted permission to drive a Dodge Viper GTR in the GT2 class at Le Mans for Team Oreca.
DUEZ, USRRC GT3 POINTS LEADER, TO MISS MID-OHIO Duez, who leads the USRRC GT3 driver's points standings by a 70-69 margin over PTG teammate Boris Said, will miss the Mid-Ohio event while competing at the Nurburgring 24-hour race in Germany. PTG's Ross Bentley is fifth with 59 points, while Bill Auberlen is seventh with 42. BMW leads the GT3 manufacturer's championship 40-32 over second-place Porsche, and PTG is first in the team standings, 40-30 over second-place AASCO Performance.