IMMEDIATELY Robert D. Mitchell JVS Enterprises BMW of North America, Inc. Public Relations 201-307-3790 203-438-0501 Erik Wensberg ...
Robert D. Mitchell JVS Enterprises BMW of North America, Inc. Public Relations 201-307-3790 203-438-0501
Erik Wensberg Blair W. Hefty M Brand Manager 201-612-1864 BMW of North America, Inc. 201-307-4122
BILL AUBERLEN DRIVES BMW M3 TO GTS-3 DRIVER'S TITLE; COMPLETES LIST OF SEASON GOALS FOR MILNER AND BMW
Quiros is Runner-Up; M3s Claim Top Three Positions for Third Consecutive Race; Quester and Duez Win Race
Monterey, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 25, 1997: It's good to have goals. It's better to accomplish them. Bill Auberlen and Tom Milner both realized their goals today in the VISA SportsCar Championship at Laguna Seca Raceway. Auberlen captured the SportsCar Driver's Championship in the GTS-3 class driving a BMW M3 four door, and Milner, owner of the PTG racing team, realized a three-year dream to capture the driver's title and bring BMW the manufacturer's title (clinched last weekend) in the same year. He also won the team championship last week, completing a quintet of goals he had made at the beginning of the season (including winning the Daytona 24-hour and the Sebring 12-hour races.) With his second-place finish in the No. 10 Yokohama BMW M3 four door, Auberlen's title in the Exxon Supreme GT Series Presented by Virgin Interactive, is the first of his GT racing career. "It's really neat to be part of something when it is growing and developing," he said. "BMW and PTG have worked for several years to get here and now here we are. What a great feeling. I've been trying for this championship for many years and I am ecstatic. It's been a great day. I ran conservatively, but the crew gave me a great car and Boris (Said), as always, kept the M3 up front, and gave me what I needed to stay in contention." Javier Quiros, who finished third with Derek Hill in the No. 6 Yokohama M3 coupe, made it 1-2 for the PTG BMW M3 drivers in the championship by taking the runner-up spot in the title chase. Porsche driver David Murry ended up in third. "To finish second in the driver's championship is very good," said Quiros, winner five times in a PTG M3. "The team has been tremendous all year and I want to thank them. They gave me a great car, the BMW M3 is fantastic. I congratulate Bill on winning the title. It is very deserving." For Milner, it was a three-year process to capture the driver's title and the manufacturer's title for BMW in the same year. Last year he won the manufacturer's championship for BMW, but finished second in the driver's standings. With the added incentive of the team championship, Milner was determined to deliver this year. PTG and the BMW M3 drivers clinched the manufacturer's and team titles last week in Sebring and completed their list of goals at Laguna Seca. "Three years of hard work, and we accomplished what we set out to do," said Milner. "This program has had the strong support of BMW and we molded the team and found good drivers. Everybody had to learn and get better as we went. This is the fruit of all the labor. My crew deserves a great deal of credit." Dieter Quester and Marc Duez, behind the wheel of the No. 7 Red Bull/Fina/Yokohama, won the one-hour, 45-minute contest. It was Quester's first victory with the PTG team and Duez's second consecutive. Derek Hill, driving with Quiros, made it an all BMW podium in the No. 6 BMW M3 with a last-lap pass to secure third. Mark Simo and Boris Said, who co-drove the No. 5 Valvoline BMW M3 coupe, finished third. Auberlen set the fastest lap of the race. "It is like I celebrated Christmas, Easter and my birthday all in one day," said Quester. "I'm very, very happy. Mark did a great job today as always and we had a fantastic machine as we have all year with the BMW M3 from PTG." "The car was perfect at the start, but about a half hour from the end we had a third gear problem," added Duez. "I couldn't get it out of third gear. Bill (Auberlen) was closing, but didn't overtake me. It was great to win with the Red Bull M3 for the first time this year." This was the fifth 1-2-3 BMW M3 sweep since July 1996, including a 1-through-5 domination this year at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Pete Halsmer and Matt Cohen, in the independent Mattco Racing entry, the No. 77 Alco Capital Group M3, finished 14th after experiencing mechanical problems. Mattco Racing was also a strong contributor to BMW winning its second consecutive GTS-3 manufacturer's title this year. "To finish 1-2 in the driver's championship after the BMW M3s won the manufacturer's championship last week in Sebring is ideal," said Erik Wensberg, M Brand manager, BMW of North America, Inc. "We couldn't be happier for Bill Auberlen and the PTG team. PTG came through in fine style for us this year. They made the M3 four-door a winner in its first race at Sears Point and have prevailed despite some trying times. I'd like to congratulate Bill and Javier, the PTG team, all the BMW M3 drivers and Mattco Racing for their outstanding contributions all season." The PTG M3s qualified first (Auberlen in No. 10), third (Duez in No. 7), fifth (Hill No. 6) and seventh (Said in No. 5). Pete Halsmer qualified sixth in the Mattco Racing No. 77. This was Auberlen's sixth pole of the season, the fourth for the No. 10 four door. BMW won the battle for the manufacturer's championship over Porsche by a final margin of 274-232. Milner claimed the team championship by virtue of the PTG team's eight wins this season. Milner prevailed over Michael Colucci's team by 86 points, 268-182).