Auberlen: A lap of Lime Rock Park

LIME ROCK, Conn. (May 15, 2003) -- Rounds 3 and 4 of the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Speed GT Championship Series will be held at Lime Rock Park, in the scenic extreme Northwestern section of Connecticut, on Saturday, May 24, and Monday, May...

LIME ROCK, Conn. (May 15, 2003) -- Rounds 3 and 4 of the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Speed GT Championship Series will be held at Lime Rock Park, in the scenic extreme Northwestern section of Connecticut, on Saturday, May 24, and Monday, May 26.

BMW Team PTG has been racing BMW M3s since 1995 and its record at Lime Rock Park has figured prominently in the team's collecting 14 sports-car racing championships to date.

In 1995 David Donohue's third place in GTS-2 was the first podium finish for the new Team PTG M3 racing program. Pete Halsmer and Bill Auberlen finished second and third in 1996, but it was in 1997 that BMW took home a 1-2-3 M3 class triumph.

In 1998 the rules allowed the M3 to race in both the GT3 and GT2 classes and Team PTG delivered two firsts and a second. Returning in 1999, Team PTG posted its second 1-2-3 podium sweep at Lime Rock.

BMW Team PTG has not raced at Lime Rock Park for three years, and now returns to this 1.54-mile circuit with four new BMW M3s with drivers Bill Auberlen, Boris Said, Hans Stuck and Justin Marks, in the two 50-minute Speed GT races of the World Challenge Series.

Bill Auberlen takes us on a hot lap of this challenging circuit nestled in a valley of the Berkshire Foothills.

Bill Auberlen's BMW M3 on a Hot Lap of Lime Rock

(compiled by Bill King)

He has 15 career wins behind the wheel of a BMW M3, and once again Bill Auberlen is strapped into his office, the driver's seat of the No. 7 BMW Team PTG M3 for the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge SPEED GT Championship at the Lime Rock Park Grand Prix Presented by Mohegan Sun.

He's in sixth gear, right foot planted, as the M3 sails across start/finish halfway down the Lime Rock pit straight. Auberlen is on a flier, looking for pole position for Saturday's first of two features; the second is on Monday.

In just under a minute, he's back at start/finish.

Qualifying over, Auberlen explains how you too could cut that same lap - if you had his well-prepared BMW M3 from Tom Milner's Prototype Technology Group, a smidgen of his talent and the ability to hold your breath for 60 seconds. Buckle up for 1.54 miles of maximum pucker.

"We're coming across start/finish - very short gear ratios, because the front straightaway is so short you get into sixth gear. You look down at the bridge. You set your apex up. It's bumpy. You're trying to keep your eyes level and straight because of all the bumps you're going over.

"Then sixth, fifth, fourth, third, hard on the brakes - as hard as you can. You start to turn in for Big Bend - you're in third gear a and you apex in a little bit early and you let it drift out left, setting up right away for the tightening radius of Turn 2.

"Click down a gear. Bang down to Turn 2. Pavement changes all around, so you're hunting for traction. Point the nose in. The rear gets a little bit light. Now feed the power down. Use up all the road. Sometimes you even dip a tire off on the exit of Turn 2. All the power down.

"Then shoot the car over to the right side of the road, setting up for Turn 3 - the only true left-hand corner on the course - still in second gear. Now, do not use all the road. The big trick here at Lime Rock is do not use all of Turn 3. Don't use the whole track up. Apex in, track out only about halfway.

"Now tuck the car back over nice and neat to the left. This is where you've got to stay nice and tidy to make the speed carry. Second gear still. Now set up for the right hander that leads you down No-Name Straightaway. Here's where the pavement changes camber all over. So you turn in. The road sort of falls away on your exit. You put the power down hard. The tires light up a little bit. Second, third, fourth, fifth.

"No-Name is a wandering straight, and you're trying to pass cars all along here. There's almost not enough room to make a pass, but you do.

"All you see is the wall coming at you as you bear down on the hill that's been a launching pad for some really fast sports cars. You downshift to go up the hill - fifth, fourth, third.

"You tuck in there to the right, apex and this is where big accidents can happen - right there in the wall on your left. You turn the car in. You try to carry more speed than you ever thought possible, because this is the speed that's going to carry you up over the hill and down the next bit of straightaway.

"Turn in. Power down. Grit your teeth and hope you hit your mark, because if you run wide you're in the guardrail. Foot to the floor and crest the top of the hill. The hill ends so abruptly, it always lights up the rear tires as it levels out. This is where some sports racers have blown over.

"Third, fourth. Down to West Bend - flat right-hander, usually greasy, but very important. So down to third. Tuck it in. Find any kind of traction you can on that pavement. Make a very precise apex. Tuck the whole nose in. Step on the throttle. Hunt for traction. Slide the car around if you have to. Drop a wheel off on your exit. Put all the power down.

"Now third, fourth. Under the bridge, where you hear a huge echo with full power down - your inline 6-cylinder M3 engine just churning out 420 horsepower.

"Sweeping, diving right-hander. Just breathe the throttle - in qualifying, it's flat - now back in it with all you've got. Over the bumps, turning to the right. Put the power completely down. Apex in. Apex out. This is where people drive off the outside. Weird accidents happen. You can flip a car here. Track out. You're almost on the rev-limiter as you hit the bottom. Run over those curbs on the outside.

"Fourth, fifth, sixth. And take the one breath you time for, because this is a very busy race track.

"Were you under a minute? Good lap in one of the best-handling ultimate driving machines you'll ever race!"

-bmw team ptg-

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Boris Said , Bill Auberlen , Pete Halsmer , David Donohue , Justin Marks , Bill King