PTG BMW M3s Test for Rolex 24

PTG BMW M3s Set for Rolex 24 Test Days With Lineup That Includes Hans Stuck, NASCAR's Ernie Irvan DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 8, 1999: Tom Milner's champion Prototype Technology Group (PTG) BMW M3 team begins its quest for a ...

PTG BMW M3s Set for Rolex 24 Test Days With Lineup That Includes Hans Stuck, NASCAR's Ernie Irvan

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 8, 1999: Tom Milner's champion Prototype Technology Group (PTG) BMW M3 team begins its quest for a third consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona GT3-class victory this weekend (Jan. 9-11) during test days for the traditional twice-around-the-clock endurance race set for later this month at Daytona International Speedway. PTG has entered a pair of its vaunted BMW M3 four-door sedans for the Jan. 30-31 United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) season opener, and joining PTG are international road racing veteran Hans Stuck, of Germany, and NASCAR Winston Cup regular Ernie Irvan, of Mooresville, N.C., the 1991 Daytona 500 winner. They are part of a stellar driver lineup that includes Bill Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Mark Simo, of Carlsbad, Calif., the 1997 and 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing (SPORTS CAR) GT3 driver's champions, respectively; Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif.; Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis.; and PTG newcomers Johannes van Overbeek, of San Francisco, and Brian Cunningham, of Danville, Ky. "We've assembled an all-star cast for this race to help us do battle in what's turning out to be its most competitive class," says Milner, whose Winchester, Va.-based team captured the USRRC's GT3 driver's, team and manufacturer's (for BMW) championships in 1998, and the same titles in 1997 and 1998 in the rival SPORTS CAR series. "We have our work cut out for us because, so far, 33 of the 80 cars entered are in GT3." Heading into this weekend's test days, Milner has grouped his driver lineup as follows for the Rolex 24: Simo, Said, Irvan and Peter Cunningham in the No. 6 PTG BMW M3 four-door; Auberlen, Stuck, van Overbeek and Brian Cunningham in the No. 10 PTG BMW M3 four-door. Stuck brings to PTG a rich road racing resume that includes championships in Sportscar Endurance, IMSA Supercar, and German Touring Car, as well as a pair of 24 Hours of Le Mans victories. PTG newcomers van Overbeek and Brian Cunningham also have enjoyed road racing success. Van Overbeek has won twice and recorded 10 top-10 finishes the past two seasons in the SCCA World Challenge series. Brian Cunningham has made his mark in Indy Lights, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, IMSA GT, and British Formula 3 racing in recent years. Meanwhile, the Rolex 24 will be the first race in a GT car for Irvan, regular driver of the M&M Racing Pontiac on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. "I've watched Mark (Simo) and Boris (Said) race the M3s on TV, and after testing the M3 at Road Atlanta last month, I learned first-hand that it's a pretty awesome car," says Irvan, who co-owns with Simo the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team for which Said is the lead driver. "The M3 is totally different from a Winston Cup car in that it responds accurately to every minute turn of the wheel. I think it's going to be really exciting. Boris is one of the best road racers in the U.S. and I feel honored to be racing with these guys." The Rolex 24 also will be Irvan's first race since his accident in last October's Winston 500 at Talladega, Ala. "I sat out the last few Cup races because I wasn't totally 100 percent," he says. "When we tested the M3 at Road Atlanta, I was getting really close to being in tip-top shape, performance-wise. As of today, I think I'm at 100 percent. And when the Rolex 24 comes around, I'll be there, no doubt about it." A total of five BMW M3s are entered in this year's Rolex 24. In addition to the two PTG cars, sponsored by Yokohama, BMW Financial, Level One and Flextronic (with additional sponsorship expected), three more are entered: Florida-based Bell Motorsports has entered a pair, Nos. 45 and 54, and T.C. Kline Racing has entered the No. 17 BMW M3 featuring road racing veteran Pete Halsmer. "We've won four manufacturer's titles in the last three years, but as far as we're concerned, the slate is clean again with the coming of a new season," says Scott Doniger, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America, Inc. "The PTG team has made a habit of winning for BMW the last few years. But not having won in the last four races we've entered, we're hungrier than ever to get back atop the podium. We'll certainly know where we stand after this weekend of testing."

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Series GT
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Boris Said , Pete Halsmer , Johannes van Overbeek , Brian Cunningham , T.C. Kline