Racing News

John Edwards, Jens Klingmann, and Lucas Luhr in the BMW Team RLL Z4 #24 finished second overall and second in the GTLM class in the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta on October 3, while their teammates Bill Auberlen, Augusto Farfus, and Dirk Werner in Z4 #25 finished eighth overall and fourth in class. Farfus had pitted from second to hand off to Auberlen at what turned out to be just fifteen minutes before the end of the rain-shortened race. The overall and GTLM class win went to Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet in the #911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR; it was the first overall win at Petit Le Mans for a GT car.

The entire race was run in the rain, often in treacherous conditions. The conditions enabled the GTLM cars to outpace the Prototypes. The race was cut short, with the checkered flag thrown at the seven-hour and fifty-one minute mark. There was a one-hour-and-five-minute red flag period during the fifth and sixth hours.

The best finishing Prototype was the third place Corvette DP driven by Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa, and Sebastien Bourdais.

Turner Motorsport’s #97 Z4 driven by Michael Marsal, Markus Palttala, Andy Priaulx, and Billy Johnson ran near the back of the GTD pack for most of the race. It finished eleventh in a class won by Spencer Pumpelly, Patrick Lindsey, and Madison Snow in a Porsche 911 GT America.

If car #25 had beaten the Porsche Auberlen and Werner would have won the GTLM drivers' championship, BMW would have won the manufacturers. title, and Team RLL would have won the team championship. Instead, Auberlen and Werner finished a strong second to Pilet in drivers' points, BMW was second in manufacturers' points, and Team RLL was second in team points. Edwards and Luhr finished fifth in driver standings. 

Bill Auberlen said, "We gave it our best and our best was fantastic. These guys excelled and maybe over excelled and kept us in a hunt we shouldn’t have been in. Everyone – BMW Motorsport, BMW Team RLL, Michelin – they kept us fighting for a championship and nobody ever gave up. In the end it was disappointing, but we can hold our heads up and congratulations to Porsche for winning the championship. I was not going to do anything crazy. No one made a mistake and none of our guys did that, which was great.”

The race marked the end of the Z4 era for BMW. Team RLL will run the M6 GTLM in 2016, and Turner Motorsport will campaign the M6 GT3. The new season begins at Daytona in January.Brian S. Morgan