While a pack of Grand Sport M3s finished second through seventh in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season opener at Daytona, the winner of the race, dubbed the BMW Performance 200, was not a BMW. Instead, Mustang Boss 302R racers Billy Johnson and Jack Roush Jr. got the winners’ trophy from BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt in victory lane.
The BimmerWorld Racing 328i of Greg Liefooghe and David Levine finished third in the Street Tuner class behind the Mazda Speed 3 of Pierre Kleinubing and Jayson Clunie and the Kia Forte of Andy Lally and Nick Jonsson.
Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi, trying for their third straight win at Daytona in their Rum Bum M3, finished fifth, behind three Fall-Line M3s and ahead of the two Turner Motorsport M3s. (Text continues after photos)
The Mustangs had looked strong in qualifying, but the session was cut short because of an incident, so the M3s were not able to show their potential. They are unquestionably still in the hunt; Charles Espenlaub, who shared the second place Fall-Line M3 with his teammate Charles Putman (the duo were class champions in 2010), set the fastest lap. The time was set on the very last lap of the 2 ½-hour race, as Espenlaub battled with his teammate Bryan Sellers (who shared his M3 with team principal Mark Boden) for second. Espenlaub finished just over a second behind Johnson’s Mustang.
Matt Plumb led for ten laps in mid-race, but finished fifth after battling with his brother Hugh Plumb, who finished fourth in the Fall-Line M3 that he shared with Al Carter.
Boris Said, who shared the #97 Turner Motorsport M3 with Michael Marsal, finished sixth, while Bill Auberlen and defending GS champion Paul Dalla Lana finished seventh.
Liefooghe and Levine could have won the Street Tuner class; the BimmerWorld car was leading on the last lap, but, as Liefooghe noted afterward, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He took the lead after a final caution just four minutes from the end, but Kleinubing and Jonsson were able to draft by him just before the bus stop chicane on the last lap. They had their own battle through the final turns, with Kleinubing coming out ahead.
The main event at Daytona, the Rolex 24, begins at 3:30 PM eastern time on Saturday.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.orgBack to News