With one race remaining in the American Le Mans Series season, Joey Hand and Dirk Müller have clinched the ALMS GT drivers’ championship—and BMW Team RLL has secured the team championship.
Hand and Müller finished second in the ALMS six-hour enduro at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, while their teammates, Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, finished fourth. The two cars were in the lead pack much of the way; Müller was leading just minutes before the end when he was passed by both the Risi Ferrari of Jaime Melo and the Flying Lizard Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister.
The Porsche won the race, as the Ferrari ran out of fuel on the final lap. Melo blocked the Porsche as the two cars were battling for the win, and was later penalized 90 seconds. Werner and Auberlen, who finished fifth on the track, were elevated to fourth as a result of the Ferrari penalty. The Ferrari of Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek finished third.
Team Principal Bobby Rahal said, “As we prepared for the 2011 season, we knew we had all of the ingredients to contend for the championship, but it takes a lot of effort from everyone involved to actually make it happen. Each one of our drivers gave us everything they had, BMW provided us with a great car and outstanding support from throughout their great organization and the crew both at the track and at the shop worked extremely hard to make this happen.”
While the results locked up the drivers’ and team titles, the manufacturers’ and tire championships will be decided in two weeks in the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta. BMW leads Porsche by 24 points in the manufacturers’ chase, while tire manufacturers Dunlop—Team RLL’s tire—and Michelin are tied.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.org