WINCHESTER, Va. (February 13, 2003) -- Tom Milner, president of Prototype Technology Group, today announced that BMW Team PTG, following a year's absence, will return to sports-car competition in the 2003 SPEED World Challenge Championship ...
WINCHESTER, Va. (February 13, 2003) -- Tom Milner, president of Prototype Technology Group, today announced that BMW Team PTG, following a year's absence, will return to sports-car competition in the 2003 SPEED World Challenge Championship Series.
BMW Team PTG will field two BMW M3 coupes in the GT Class of this series for production-based race cars, which features 50-minute sprint races and a weight-equalization system based on each competitor's finishing position in each race. This will be BMW Team PTG's first entry into the series.
"The entire BMW Team PTG is, of course, excited to be back in competition with the BMW M3 after sitting out a season of racing," said Milner. "It's also a new challenge for us to compete in a series with unique regulations. You really lay it all on the line in 50 minutes. Instead of a marathon, it's like the 100 meters. But, if you're the fastest man in the world at 100 meters and you win the race, at the next event you'll be given a backpack with 10 pounds in it and we'll see if you're still the fastest."
The SPEED World Challenge rules provide a 40-pound weight addition for a win, down to zero pounds for a fourth-place finish. The fifth-place finisher may remove five pounds for the next event. A 12th-place finish in the next race will allow the 40 pounds to be removed for the following event.
Driving the M3s for BMW Team PTG will be Bill Auberlen, 34, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Boris Said, 40, of Carlsbad, Calif. Auberlen has driven for Team PTG in GT sports-car competition since 1996, and Said since 1995, when the team first entered sports-car racing with the BMW M3.
Auberlen is the 1997 SportsCar GT-3 driver's champion and the 2002 Grand-Am GT-class champion. Said holds championships in several series, including his most recent, the 2002 Trans-Am championship.
"I have the highest confidence in Bill and Boris. I think their records with BMWs and other cars they've raced in other years speak for themselves," added Milner. "And they're certainly not new to this series." Said has 46 starts in World Challenge, with two wins, 10 top-three finishes, and 20 top fives. Auberlen has three starts, finishing in the top 10 in all, including one victory and two top fives.
The other challenge the team will face is competing on stock Toyo tires, as required under the series' rules. The World Challenge BMW M3 will have the same outside dimensions as a stock M3, with the tire fitting inside the production wheel well. The M3's suspension parts will be stock, but the 3.2-liter, in-line 6-cylinder engine will be modified, as it was in the GT class of the American Le Mans Series. The World Challenge M3 will be 75 percent stock, producing 420 horsepower, approximately 90 more than a production M3.
"We are excited that BMW Team PTG will be campaigning a production version of the M3 coupe," said Tom Salkowsky, Motorsports Manager for BMW of North America, LLC. "I know the entire PTG team is very excited about returning to competition. The SPEED World Challenge has been a growing race series in the U.S, where BMW teams have been competing for years in both Touring and GT. In addition, we have tremendous confidence in both Bill Auberlen and Boris Said. It will be great to see them back in M3s."
To date, the BMW M3 has won 13 SPEED World Challenge events and one GT driver's championship with Jeff McMillin in 2000. In total, BMWs, including the M3, 325is, 328is and 328Ci models, have won 33 World Challenge races in both GT and Touring since 1991. BMW is the 2001 Touring Car manufacturers' champion.
In seven years of North American sports-car racing in SportsCar and American Le Mans Series competition, the BMW M3 has scored 38 pole positions and 39 wins in 72 races, collecting 14 championships along the way.
The 2003 SPEED World Challenge Series opens on March 14, at Sebring International Raceway, in Sebring, Fla. The 50-minute race begins at 4:25 p.m. Speed Channel is scheduled to air the SPEED GT Championship race on Saturday, March 29, at 5 p.m. ET.