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BMW Team PTG VIR test notes

BMW Team PTG SPEED GT M3S ace VIR test. WINCHESTER, Va. (April 25, 2003) -- BMW Team PTG completed two days of intensive testing at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., last week, recording some 200 laps around the 3.27-mile circuit...

BMW Team PTG SPEED GT M3S ace VIR test.

WINCHESTER, Va. (April 25, 2003) -- BMW Team PTG completed two days of intensive testing at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., last week, recording some 200 laps around the 3.27-mile circuit with two Team PTG BMW M3s, driven by Bill Auberlen, Boris Said and PTG newcomer Justin Marks.

Unable to test before the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge Speed GT Championship Series season opener at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway in March, Team PTG survived a number of new-car woes in the 50-minute race to record fourth- and fifth-place finishes from drivers Hans Stuck and Bill Auberlen, respectively. Hence, this first true test session for these cars proved extremely valuable.

With rounds 2, 3 and 4 coming on back-to-back weekends at Mosport International Raceway in Canada on May 18 and at Lime Rock Park, Conn., on May 24 and 26, Team PTG began a testing and development program following Sebring that should see the team that has delivered 11 championships for BMW in seven years return to form.

The components tested at VIR included a new brake package, tires, and spring and suspension settings. Justin Marks was also given the opportunity to take his first laps in a BMW Team PTG M3 before he makes his team debut in Mosport.

"We had just completed building our first two M3s and preparing Jeff McMillin's car (which Stuck drove in the first race) before Sebring," said Tom Milner, president of Prototype Technology Group (PTG). "We rolled them out of the shop and onto the track at Sebring. Last week, while the shop was busy finishing two new M3s for Hans and Justin, half of the team was at VIR to answer some of the questions that were raised at Sebring and see how we could begin to look at real development. Specifically, our intent at VIR was to maximize the brake package, gather data on the tires in a controlled environment, look at improving the suspension settings and get Justin some seat time."

Performance Friction Corporation made its first road-racing application of its new brake package at VIR on the Team PTG M3s and Don Burgoon, President of PFC, personally oversaw the test. Previously only used on Winston Cup cars, the new PFC package utilizes proprietary and patented components that result in maximum braking performance in every braking parameter.

"This PFC package is a tremendous advantage," said Milner. "The relationship between PTG and PFC goes back many years. PFC has always been a valuable partner and, though it may sound funny, much of our past success has been because of how fast we can slow our cars."

With all of PTG's data over the years collected on pure racing Yokohama tires, it was important to see how changes made to the M3 would affect the spec Toyo tires required by SCCA Pro Racing in the World Challenge Series. "We needed the time to see what we could learn about the spec Toyos," stated Milner. "What are the ranges of pressures that we can run? What split of front and rear pressures is optimum? How hard can we push the tires knowing we need them to withstand one qualifying session and a one-hour race?"

After some 25 laps on each M3 all of these questions were answered to the team's satisfaction.

"Where the response of an exclusive race tire is very precise on an M3," commented Auberlen, "these tires do not give the same crisp response, so you have to look deeper for each change."

Attention was also put on optimizing suspension settings in conjunction with refining the aerodynamic balance of the car. Spring changes were ordered, completed and tested.

Never in search for the right words, Boris Said summed up the test's goals: "Speed. We were looking for speed."

The newest member of the team, Justin Marks, was impressed with the M3. "I have two first impressions of the M3: powerful braking and great overall balance," he said. "The way the car was set up, I was getting very good feedback and that was very helpful in learning the way the car behaves. I was getting more comfortable in the car with every lap."

"Team PTG has spent the last several months tirelessly constructing these new M3s with no opportunity for testing," said Tom Salkowsky, Motorsports Manager for BMW of North America, LLC, on hand at the test. "PTG is one of the best at developing the BMW M3 and these two days not only helped them better understand the car, but it also gave our drivers needed seat time. In the end, testing is the ability to make one change at a time and measure the difference that specific change makes. That amount of time is really not available on a race weekend."

Round 2 of the SCCA Pro Racing Speed GT Championship at Mosport International Raceway is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. ET Sunday, May 18, and will be aired on Speed Channel at 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 24.

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Series PWC
Drivers Boris Said , Bill Auberlen , Justin Marks