Joey Hand and Dirk Müller finished second in the GT class in the American Le Mans Series race at Long Beach in their BMW Team RLL #56 M3. The finish leaves BMW tied with Chevrolet for first in the ALMS GT manufacturers’ championship standings and extends the drivers’ points lead of Hand and Müller.
The team’s second M3, the #55 car piloted by Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller, had to pit for a thirteen-lap stop to replace the radiator after Müller was caught up in a first lap incident. The car went on the finish eleventh in class.
Friday the 13th lived up to its billing in the worst possible way in Long Beach as a rare Southern California April rainstorm washed out the ALMS qualifying session. As a result, the cars started in championship points order, leaving the #56 car of Sebring winners Joey Hand and Dirk Müller on the pole.
Race day was dry and sunny, but the track was green, and many of the cars started with little or no track time in practice and qualifying because of Friday’s weather.
Hand led until the sixteenth lap, when contact with a prototype led to a flat tire. He pitted the M3 for fuel and four tires, and returned to battle in seventh. When the car pitted again during the race’s only full-course yellow, just before the one-hour mark in the two-hour race, Müller got in, and team principal Bobby Rahal decided to leave the Dunlops that had been fitted at the earlier stop on the car.
The gamble left Müller in the lead when the track went back to green, but he could not hold off the Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. The Vette went on to win, the #56 M3 finished second, and the Ferrari 458 Italia of Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek finished third after getting by the second Corvette of Jan Magnussen late in the race.
Rahal said, “A great day for Dunlop. We double-stinted the tires at Sebring and that’s what got us the win. Here we asked for the same thing. There was no question that we had to leap frog the field after being hit and having a flat tire. We didn’t have enough to beat the # 4 Corvette but we held everyone else off. We'll take a well-deserved second place.”
The overall win at Long Beach went to Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr in their Honda Performance Development ARX-03a. Graf and Luhr had also won at Long Beach in 2011.
The next ALMS event is a six-hour enduro at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 12.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.orgBack to News