12h Sebring: BMW claims second USCC podium of the year

On IMSA CTSCC BMW continues to lead championship standings.

12h Sebring: BMW claims second USCC podium of the year

BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL continued in Sebring (US) where they left off after the first race of the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) in Daytona (US), with a podium finish for the BMW Z4 GTLM. Despite a difficult race that started well but saw both cars suffer mishaps, at the end of 286 laps the black number 55 car driven by Bill Auberlen (US), Joey Hand (US) and Andy Priaulx (GB) came third in the GTLM class and now are leading the driver points standings.

#55 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE: Bill Auberlen, Andy Priaulx, Joey Hand
#55 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE: Bill Auberlen, Andy Priaulx, Joey Hand

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

Unfortunately the best the white number 56 car of John Edwards (US), Dirk Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE) was able to manage was tenth in class after completing a total of 277 laps. The race was a turbulent affair with many full course cautions and both cars suffered bodywork damage after incidents with other cars.

However, Hand was not daunted by the fact with 20 minutes to go he was out of podium contention. In the dark and with a car that was even missing a front light he made a late charge after the final caution and managed to overtake a Ferrari for the third spot. The class was won by the Porsche of Patrick Long (US), Michael Christensen (DK) and Jörg Bergmeister (DE).

Three questions for … Joey Hand

Joey, what were your expectations ahead of this race? Joey Hand: “The result was not as I expected, because I expected to win this race. I had a really good feeling about this race, but it just wasn’t going to happen with situations we got during the race. But I think when you can come out of 36 hours of endurance racing at the start of the season with a second and third and leading the championship it is not too bad. You always want to win races, but if you want to win a championship you need consistency. If we are second or third in every race this season then the boys are going to win the title.

Your final stint included yet another battle at the finish. What was it like? Hand: “That final 20 minutes I was thinking this had turned into another dog fight. I just keep landing in some dog fights, but I love it. It woke me up and I was ready to go. I thought I might be able to make something of this. The Porsche was too far gone, but I thought we could get second. On the re-start I just went for it. I got the Ferrari quickly, got right up to the Viper, but he just had too much for me. I drove the wheels off the car and I set my best lap times then. We had a lot of damage to the right front and were missing most of our headlights on the right side, it was really dark and, unfortunately, Sebring is mostly right hand corners. It wasn’t really ours to win today after what we went through.”

What was your aim, especially as this is your last USCC race until the final round at Petit Le Mans? Hand: “I wanted to get the car home and make sure Andy and Bill had a good start to the season. I don’t get to be here all year, but if they were to win this championship I would think I truly had a part in it. I am now off for nine DTM races until you see me again racing in the USCC. It is a bit sad because I love this programme. I have had a good time here and it is a place where I have learnt a lot and has just become my home. When I come back here, even though I am a third wheel as I call it, it is all the same guys so I don’t feel I am not supposed to be here and really enjoy my time. I am going to miss it but I am going to have my programme in the DTM and I am excited about it.

CTSCC: BMW continues to lead championship standings

The second round of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in Sebring (US) wasn't the unqualified success of the first race in Daytona (US), which saw BMW finish 1-4 in Grand Sport and 1-2 in Street Tuner. However, the Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 No. 46 finished second driven by Trent Hindman (US) and BMW Team RLL’s John Edwards (US), who have now taken the lead in the driver standings.

The BMW had a great start to the race, after 18-year-old Hindman from New Jersey qualified it on pole, and led for all but four of the opening 42 laps. Unfortunately an incident that caused the race to finish under a caution meant Edwards could not race for the win in the closing laps. After the two and a half hour race the victory went to the No. 6 Camaro of Robin Liddell (US) and Andrew Davis (US). Edwards' BMW Team RLL team-mate, Bill Auberlen, was unable to drive the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 he shared with Boris Said (US).

Said was involved in an incident with another car on the track and was forced to retire. In the Street Turner category the best the winners from Daytona, Jeff Mosing (US) and Eric Foss (US) in their Murillo Racing number 56 BMW 328i, could manage was third. BMW continues to lead the championship standings.

Blancpain GT Series: BMW Sports Trophy teams attend official tests

A strong contingent of BMW Sports Trophy teams headed out onto the track in Le Castellet (FR), southern France, this week. The “Circuit Paul Ricard” was the venue for the official test days in the Blancpain GT Series. Among the teams testing were BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS, ROAL Motorsport, TDS Racing, BMW Sports Trophy Team Brazil, Chab Evolution and DKR Engineering. The Blancpain GT Series consists of two championships: the Blancpain Endurance Series, the highlight of which is the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps (BE), and the Blancpain Sprint Series, which is the successor to the former FIA GT Series.

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