WINCHESTER, Va. (Aug. 28, 2003) - BMW Team PTG carries the lead in all categories of the 2003 SCCA Pro Racing Speed GT Championship after its success in seven races, but it will also have to carry additional weight in Round 8 on Sept. 7 at Laguna...
WINCHESTER, Va. (Aug. 28, 2003) - BMW Team PTG carries the lead in all categories of the 2003 SCCA Pro Racing Speed GT Championship after its success in seven races, but it will also have to carry additional weight in Round 8 on Sept. 7 at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif.
Each of the four BMW M3s will be weighed down by an extra 150 pounds of lead at this event, based on an Aug. 7 competition adjustment made by SCCA Pro Racing, which is beyond what is mandated by the Speed GT weight-equalization rules.
BMW Team PTG has fought hard for its accomplishments this season in its first foray into the World Challenge Series after seven successful years in endurance sports-car competition. As a result, BMW leads the Manufacturer's Championship by eight points over Audi. In addition, Bill Auberlen sits atop the Driver's Championship standings with his fellow veteran world-class teammates Hans Stuck fifth, Boris Said sixth and 2003 PTG newcomer Justin Marks eighth.
BMW Team PTG and Auberlen have tallied three wins, four poles and four fastest race laps in a tough and challenging racing season to date, along with two seconds for Boris Said, one second and two thirds for Stuck and three top-fives for Justin Marks.
"Is BMW steam-rolling the Speed GT series? Most definitely not," says Team PTG owner Tom Milner. "That is why this additional weight seems so severe. Under the existing rules the race winner receives 40 pounds and the top four finishers receive a combined 100 pounds of REWARDS weight. Each one of our M3s must now carry an additional 150 pounds.
"The BMW M3 has the smallest engine in the GT class," he continues, "so an additional 150 pounds of lead will have a much greater effect on us than our competitors. In fact, the M3 now has almost a 10 percent power-to-weight disadvantage to our top competitors. Getting this weight on top of what I still consider to be a very questionable black-flag call at Road America is hard to swallow, but Team PTG is unquestionably the best-prepared team in the GT paddock with the most experienced veteran drivers and we will be ready for Laguna."
"I seem to have an attraction to lead this year," says Auberlen. "I have earned a great deal of REWARDS weight in both my GT- and Touring-class BMWs (Auberlen and BMW also lead the Touring class standings) and the added weight does not make it easy. One-hundred-fifty pounds more lead just means Team PTG will have to dig deeper into its alchemy books and maybe we can turn this lead into gold."
Coming off his best starting position of the season (second) at Road America on Aug. 3, Hans Stuck knows another front-row start will be difficult at Laguna Seca, but is not out of the question.
"Carrying an extra 150 pounds will not make it an easy race for us," says the veteran who won at Laguna Seca in 1975 driving a BMW CSL and in 2000 driving an M3 with Said. "Laguna Seca is a demanding circuit that requires driving precision and the 'corkscrew' turn makes every lap an adventure. Power is not as important there as at other tracks so I have no doubt that the M3 will be competitive."
"Unfortunately we have been penalized pretty heavily and that might hurt our performance, but it certainly will not hurt how hard we try," said Said. "Our goal remains the same and that is to win the championship for BMW.
"This is a low-grip track and that puts a premium on handling," he adds. "Of course, most every driver will tell you that you can never have enough horsepower, but I would also say that most every driver wishes that he or she could drive a BMW."
The 50-minute race is scheduled for a 3:05 p.m. PT start on Sunday, Sept. 7, and is scheduled for broadcast on the Speed Channel at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 20.