WINCHESTER, Va. (Aug. 5, 2003) - For the first time since the Round-3 Speed GT race in May, a BMW Team PTG driver failed to reach the Speed GT podium. However, following Boris Said's fourth-place finish in Round 7 of the SCCA Pro Racing Speed GT...
WINCHESTER, Va. (Aug. 5, 2003) - For the first time since the Round-3 Speed GT race in May, a BMW Team PTG driver failed to reach the Speed GT podium. However, following Boris Said's fourth-place finish in Round 7 of the SCCA Pro Racing Speed GT Championship at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Sunday, BMW retained its lead in the Manufacturer's Championship and Bill Auberlen stayed atop the Driver's Championship.
The 18-lap contest around the 4.0-mile circuit was won by Mike Fitzgerald's Porsche, which ended under a full-course caution.
A three-M3 train of Auberlen, Hans Stuck and Said held the second, third and fourth positions for most of the race until a wreck on lap 13 caused a caution period that ultimately ended up being the beginning of the end of the race for Team PTG.
Running as high as second, pole-sitter Auberlen, in the No. 7 BMW Team PTG M3, was forced to serve a stop-and-go penalty on the last lap of the race when he moved out of line on the lap-16 restart. He fought back to a ninth-place finish to retain the top spot in the Driver's Championship while setting the fastest lap of the race, 2:19.556.
Starting the race alongside Auberlen on the front row, Hans Stuck had his best start of the season. He ran in the top three for most of the race until becoming involved in a massive crash on lap 17 that ultimately took out five cars. Stuck was credited with a 17th-place finish.
Said had an equally adventurous race. Trading top-five positions with teammate Stuck early, he spun into the gravel on turn 5 just after the half-race distance. After being pulled out by track workers he rejoined the race in 21st. By lap 16 he was back to fifth just behind Stuck when the lap-17 crash occurred. Said just barely slipped through the wreck that took out his teammate and moved into fourth place.
Justin Marks had mechanical problems in the spare Team PTG M3 and ultimately lost eight positions to finish 19th.
With six of 10 races completed, BMW Team PTG drivers stand first (Auberlen), fifth (Stuck), sixth (Said) and eighth (Marks) in the Speed GT Driver's Championship. BMW leads the Speed GT Manufacturer's Championship by eight points over Audi.
Sunday's race is scheduled to be broadcast on Speed Channel on Saturday, Sept. 6, at 2 p.m. ET.
The Speed GT Championship now has a one-month respite before Round 8 at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., on Sept. 5-7.
BORIS SAID, NO. 6 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (fourth):
"That was a roller-coaster race - too many ups and downs. I had a good start, but made a mistake on lap 10 and tossed my car into the gravel. I got lucky with the caution period and caught back up, but just like I have seen in NASCAR, whenever you have a restart with two or three laps to go it is like throwing raw meat to a cage full of tigers. Someone is going to get bitten. I don't know how I got through the wreck. I picked a hole and could not have had a sheet of paper's width between cars."
BILL AUBERLEN, NO. 7 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (ninth):
"Surely I would have finished at least second, as my M3 was running beautifully and I was in a very good position on the lap-16 restart. As we approached the green cone (before which cars had to remain in a single-file line), Fitzgerald accelerated and was clearly on the gas. When he realized he was going way too fast for the restart he decelerated. I was right on his tail and had two choices: run him over or move over. I moved over to the right, but did not pass him. I was shown the black flag for moving out of line. When the yellow came out after the wreck I had to take that opportunity to pit. We all knew the black-flag call was questionable, but Team PTG is a professional racing team and a black flag is a black flag. We work very hard all year to race for a championship and to be hurt badly in the points by what I consider to be a very disputable call is very disappointing."
HANS STUCK, NO. 8 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (17th):
"What a tough race. I had a good start and everything was under control. I had a good restart, but slid off course and lost several spots which put me in exactly the wrong spot when the Corvette went off. The Corvette then came shooting back across the track. I had nowhere to go as there were cars spinning everywhere."
JUSTIN MARKS, NO. 80 BMW TEAM PTG M3 (19th):
"In racing you have good weekends and bad weekends. There was some real unnecessary carnage today. I had a throttle-position sensor problem that did not allow me to accelerate hard and I lost many spots on the start. It was a tough weekend all around."
TOM MILNER, OWNER BMW TEAM PTG:
"That was not the best way to follow up our 1-2-3-4 at Infineon. Things were going quite well except for the problems Justin experienced with his car. The restart procedure appears to be flawed as to have to remain in a single-file line when the driver in the car ahead of you hits his brakes seems ridiculous. Bill could have driven into Fitzgerald or moved out of line. He moved out of line, but did not improve his position. I understand that BMW Team PTG is under a microscope because we are leading the championship, but I believe that Bill's stop-and-go penalty was unfair. I sincerely hope that this series will improve and everyone will bring the same level of professionalism that BMW Team PTG does."