PTG BMW M3s Return for Sebring Three-Hour With Eyes Firmly Planted on SPORTS CAR Titles SEBRING, Fla., Sept. 11, 1998: Tom Milner's Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 team resumes its 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing (SPORTS CAR) GT3...
PTG BMW M3s Return for Sebring Three-Hour With Eyes Firmly Planted on SPORTS CAR Titles
SEBRING, Fla., Sept. 11, 1998: Tom Milner's Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 team resumes its 1998 Professional Sports Car Racing (SPORTS CAR) GT3 title chase with next weekend's three-hour NAPA Auto Parts Sebring Classic, presented by Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil (Sept. 17-19) at Sebring International Raceway.
Round Six of SPORTS CAR's eight-race GT Series Presented by Virgin Interactive brings the PTG BMW M3 team back to the venerable 3.75-mile road course where it kicked off this SPORTS CAR season in style last March with a 1-2 finish in the traditional Superflo 12-hour endurance event.
"We're heading into the home stretch of the SPORTS CAR season looking really good in the driver's, team and manufacturer's points," Milner says. "But a track like Sebring can bring you back down to earth in a big hurry, and that can change the whole complexion of the points race. Fortunately, it's a track where we have done quite well, lately."
Milner's troops have fared well at just about every track they have visited of late. They've finished 1-2 in all five SPORTS CAR events this season, extending their series winning streak to a record eight in a row.
"The team has done an incredible job, and our BMW M3s have been virtually flawless," says PTG driver Bill Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., the reigning GT3 champion who again sits atop the standings after four victories this year. "Sebring is probably my favorite track in the whole world. It's grueling, and we've been able to run our cars very hard there with great success. It should be another exciting weekend, especially with a couple of increasingly competitive Porsche teams breathing down our necks."
Auberlen, himself, also has been feeling the heat of teammates Mark Simo, Ross Bentley and Peter Cunningham in the GT3 driver's championship. Auberlen leads second-place Simo 126 points to 122, while Bentley and Cunningham are tied for third with 114 each.
"It's a little nerve-wracking, sometimes, but we've been pushing each other all year and it's all in the name of good, healthy competition," Auberlen says. "It's been fun, to say the least."
Auberlen is slated to co-drive the No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door with Simo, of Carlsbad, Calif., with whom he co-drove to wins at Las Vegas, Road Atlanta and Mosport already this season. Bentley, of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, and Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., who co-drove to the win at Lime Rock on Memorial Day weekend, will again share the No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door.
Marc Duez, of Monte Carlo, also is part of the PTG driver lineup at Sebring. He co-drove the No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe to GT2-class victories at Lime Rock, Road Atlanta and Mosport. But that car will sit out the Sebring Classic as Duez takes on a support role in one of the other two PTG BMW M3 entries.
"It's always special to take to the track at Sebring," says Scott Doniger, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America, Inc. "We've won three in a row there, including the last two 12-hour endurance classics. So racing 'only' three hours there this time around would seem to be a snap, but it's not. It'll be an all-out sprint to the finish line. But that's what these BMW M3s are built to do, and they've held up very well."
Practice begins Thursday for the NAPA Auto Parts Sebring Classic with qualifying set for Friday afternoon. The green flag falls for Saturday's three-hour feature race at 1:00 p.m. EDT.