PTG BMW M3 TEAM SEEKS TO REGAIN LEAD IN TWO TITLE CHASES AT LIME ROCK PARK Lakeville, Conn., May 16, 1997: Tom Milner, owner of the three-car PTG BMW M3 team, has three priorities on his mind when he arrives at Lime Rock Park for the May 26 ...
PTG BMW M3 TEAM SEEKS TO REGAIN LEAD IN TWO TITLE CHASES AT LIME ROCK PARK
Lakeville, Conn., May 16, 1997: Tom Milner, owner of the three-car PTG BMW M3 team, has three priorities on his mind when he arrives at Lime Rock Park for the May 26 GTS-3 race: to regain the lead in the manufacturer's and driver's championships, and to put the new four-door BMW M3 sedan into victory lane.
After beginning the 1997 Exxon Supreme GT Series Presented by Virgin Interactive by winning the first two major endurance events, the team was on top in both categories. It took only one poor finish, at Road Atlanta, as a result of an accident on the first lap and a mechanical problem, for the team to drop down in points. The all-new four-door M3 racer was a victim of the first-lap incident.
BMW is just two points out of first place in the manufacturer's championship (80-78), and driver Bill Auberlen is six points short of the lead in the driver's title chase (74-68), with Javier Quiros 11 points back. PTG continues to lead the team championship.
"We know the four-door M3 has great potential," adds Milner, "as it ran nearly flawlessly in its first outing at Road Atlanta in practice and qualifying. It's too bad we couldn't prove its performance in the race. Lime Rock should give us that opportunity."
In preparation for Lime Rock Park's tough 1.5-mile circuit, the PTG team recently conducted a test session at Summit Point Raceway in W.Va., in particular to evaluate the consequences of the addition of 110 pounds that SportsCar had mandated at Atlanta.
"We had just sorted the new four-door M3 out at Road Atlanta with the first weight addition," says Milner, "now we had to do it all over again. Fortunately, the test was very productive and the four-door and the coupes are quite close in lap times. We should be very competitive at Lime Rock."
"Preserving your tires is critical at Lime Rock," adds Auberlen, a GTS-2 winner here in 1994 and 1995. "I think one of the reasons I was successful here is I drove cautiously and had good Yokohama tires left at the end. You're always leaning hard on the left side tires here and it's easy to abuse them. The key is to make them last."
Joining Auberlen in the No. 10 Yokohama BMW M3 four-door is Boris Said. Derek Hill and Javier Quiros are in the No. 6 Yokohama BMW M3 coupe, with Dieter Quester and Marc Duez in the No. 7 Red Bull/Fina/Yokohama M3 coupe.
The Exxon Supreme GT race for GTS-1, 2 and 3 cars takes the green flag at 4:10 p.m. on Monday, May 26, and airs on Speedvision on June 1 and 2, and FOX Sports/Prime SportsChannel networks on June 11. Check local listings for times.
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TOM HESSERT LEAVES PTG TEAM: Tom Hessert, in the running for the GTS-3 driver's championship after the first two races of the year, has left the PTG team in order to pursue his escalating business interests. "I am truly disappointed to have to leave just as the season is beginning and when we're doing so well," says Hessert, the 1988 IMSA GTP Lights champion, "but my business interests come first and my focus must be turned over to the successful completion of several complicated deals I am working on. I wish Tom Milner and the rest of the team great success and perhaps I will be able to return in the future." At Lime Rock, Derek Hill will take over Hessert's driver's seat.
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KRUGER, BACKUS AND HUGHES LEAD BMW CHALLENGE TROPHY STANDINGS: After eight events in the new BMW Challenge Trophy championship, Manfred Kruger, of Miami, Fla., leads in the E36 M3 category, 30 points ahead of Brian Corrigan, of Warren, N.J., (90-30). In the 318ti division, Mike Backus, of Chicago, and Scott Hughes, of Dublin, Ohio, are tied for first at 72 points each, 34 points ahead of Ray Mason, of Columbus, Ohio, (72-38). The BMW Challenge Trophy was created by BMW of North America, Inc. in 1996 to recognize the top competitors driving E36 M3s and 381tis in the BMW CCA Club Racing Series. Points are accumulated throughout a year-long season that began immediately after BMW CCA's Oktoberfest in July of 1996 and will conclude at Oktoberfest in July of 1997.