PTG BMW M3 Repeats at Rolex 24 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.; Feb. 1, 1998: The defending GT-3 champion BMW M3 team from Prototype Technology Group (PTG) made their dream come true today, repeating as class champions...
PTG BMW M3 Repeats at Rolex 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.; Feb. 1, 1998: The defending GT-3 champion BMW M3 team from Prototype Technology Group (PTG) made their dream come true today, repeating as class champions in the 36th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Bill Auberlen, Boris Said, Peter Cunningham and Belgian star Marc Duez made it look easy in the end. They qualified their Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four door on the GT-3 pole, led the early going and the final hours, and ultimately brought the M3 home a full 22 laps ahead of their nearest challenger. However, it was not quite as easy during the heart of the event as it may have seemed at the end. During the early night hours another car hit their M3, breaking a steering arm. Duez was able to get the car to the pits quickly, and the PTG crew made the necessary repairs in short order. However, the time lost slipped the car 10 laps behind -- and put it out of the class lead for the first time in the race. When the crew finished, Auberlen took over and began a determined charge to get the lead back. Cunningham joined the others in this car when his was sidelined, and the foursome methodically worked their way back to the class lead, which they never again relinquished. Along the way, their charge paid off with a record distance covered: 2338.92 miles. A happy Auberlen described the race as "really very easy most of the time," jokingly adding, "the highlight for me was sleeping in the motor home while these guys did all the work." Referring to being added to this car's lineup during the event, Cunningham said, "I just feel very lucky to be a part of this." Referring to the early evening incident that broke a steering arm and dropped their car out of the lead, Boris Said commented, "Unfortunately, we had an accident early in the race, but we ran the car really hard last night. Today, we were able to build up a big lead and baby the car." Duez, like his teammates, was ecstatic."For BMW I have won the Spa 24 Hours (1997), the Nurburgring 24 Hours (1996) and now the Daytona 24 Hours. This is great for me." PTG entered three M3s in the race, and they were a formidable force throughout. One of them, driven by Derek Hill, Ross Bentley, Andy Petery and Les Delano, qualified seventh and finished seventh after electrical gremlins forced them off of their planned pace. The other, driven by Cunningham, Mark Simo and Dieter Quester, qualified third and ran an impressive second-in-class to its winning teammate during the early hours, before being sidelined by a blown headgasket. "This is a terrific accomplishment for the PTG team to repeat its victory in this very important event," said Erik Wensberg, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America, Inc. "It demonstrates the reliability of the BMW M3 and the outstanding talent of this excellent team. This is the best going-away present anyone could receive." Earlier in the weekend, it was announced at the race that Wensberg will be leaving BMW North America, Inc., to take a bigger part in his family's marketing business. A successor has not yet been named. PTG owner Tom Milner was beaming when the car swept under the checkered flag, "I'm happy and I'm tired, but it's wonderful. There are not that many people who have won this race twice and I'm proud to be among them. The drivers did a great job of conserving the car, then going fast enough to catch up when we had the one problem and fell behind." # # # Two days earlier, the inaugural race in the new international Motorola Cup Series took place on the same 3.56-mile circuit. Andy Pilgrim and Terry Borcheller drove the Massari Muller M3 to second overall and in the Grand Sport class in the one hour and forty-five minute race. Meanwhile, Michael Culver and Eric Tresslar took their 328is to third in the Sports class.
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