Rolex 24 BMW Report

Privateer T.C. Kline Racing BMW M3 Finishes Fifth, PTG BMW M3s Sidelined Early in Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 31, 1999: Privateer entry T.C. Kline Racing and its Prototype Technology Group (PTG)-built BMW M3 car and ...

Privateer T.C. Kline Racing BMW M3 Finishes Fifth, PTG BMW M3s Sidelined Early in Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 31, 1999: Privateer entry T.C. Kline Racing and its Prototype Technology Group (PTG)-built BMW M3 car and motor enjoyed the best finish among three BMW M3s that took the checkered flag in the grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona. It finished fifth in the hotly competitive GT3 class of the season-opening event on the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) at Daytona International Speedway.

A pair of BMW M3s of Florida-based Bell Motorsports, also built by PTG, made it to the end of the traditional endurance marathon in eighth and 14th place, while both BMW M3s of Tom Milner's PTG shop retired by the 15-hour mark with engine and suspension problems, respectively.

Randy Pobst, Shane Lewis, Bob Massuoccola and Mark Raccaro co-drove the No. 17 T.C. Kline Racing BMW M3. They completed 622 laps around the 3.56-mile oval/road course, a total of more than 2,200 miles, in the team's first attempt at conquering the annual twice-around-the-clock season opener. They finished in 13th place out of 77 competitors overall, and ended up 17 laps behind the class-winning No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche. With 30 competitors, the GT3 class was the largest in the field.

"Hats off to Kline Racing and our fifth-year BMW M3 program," said Scott Doniger, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America, Inc. "A Herculean effort by Kline Racing and Bell Motorsports got them to the finish. Unfortunately for PTG, a third straight win here was not meant to be. But now we can say that Daytona owes us one, and we're committed as ever to come back strong in the American Le Mans Series opener at Sebring next month."

"The M3 never even balked," said Pobst, a veteran racer with 34 major victories and championships in North American Touring Car and Professional Sports Car Racing Showroom Stock competition. "The engine was running at least as strong at the end as it was at the beginning. We had some tough competition from the other BMW and an army of Porsches, but thanks to 24 perfect pit stops and a great overall team effort, we were able to keep going strong. It just amazes me that a race car like this M3, which is so heavily based on a stock BMW, can be so bulletproof."

"You've got to hand it to BMW and to PTG ... they build a terrific race car," added Kline, who bought the No. 17 BMW M3 from Milner's PTG shop late last season, and continues to purchase spare parts and engines from PTG. "I felt bad that they (PTG) had a terrible weekend, but they'll be back."

Going after the team's third consecutive GT3 victory here, the PTG BMW M3s, meanwhile, struggled with various problems throughout the race after starting second and third on the GT3 grid.

The No. 10 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 four-door of Bill Auberlen, Hans Stuck, Brian Cunningham and Johannes Van Overbeek developed engine problems early in the second hour that took five hours to repair before the car resumed 127 laps off the pace. It retired just before the 15-hour mark when a wheel bearing failure caused the entire left-front suspension to break off on course.

The No. 6 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 four-door of Boris Said, Peter Cunningham, Mark Simo, Dieter Quester and NASCAR veteran Ernie Irvan lost two hours replacing its gearbox and differential on separate occasions, and finally succumbed to an engine failure during the 12th hour. Irvan never got his chance to drive.

"Sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don't" said Auberlen, the 1997 SPORTS CAR GT3 driver's champion. "It's not for lack of effort that things didn't go our way this weekend. It was just plain bad luck."

Milner, whose team has won three sets of manufacturer's (for BMW), team and driver's championships in the last two years in both SPORTS CAR and USRRC competition, pointed out that PTG's recent success has put his cars at a disadvantage."

"There are two ways to approach this race," he explained. "You can come here just to finish, or you can come here to win it. We won this race two years in a row, and we were here to win it again. But, unfortunately, we paid the price for our success over the last few years this weekend. The rulesmakers have us running much heavier, with narrower rear tires, and with a rev (RPM) limit. But trying to keep up with the Porsches under those circumstances for a 24-hour race ... well, you saw that both of our cars were packed away in the garage before the sun came up. It's unfortunate for everyone on our team who has worked so hard to become successful. But I congratulate the other BMW M3s for completing this very grueling endurance test."

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Series GT
Drivers Shane Lewis , Ernie Irvan , Boris Said , Bill Auberlen , Randy Pobst , Peter Cunningham , Brian Cunningham , Dieter Quester , T.C. Kline , Alex Job