The BMW Team RLL M3s finished fifth and sixth in the GT class in the American Le Mans Series race at Lime Rock on Saturday. Despite a day of bad luck at Lime Rock, BMW NA’s home track, the team held on to second place in manufacturers’ points.
Bill Auberlen took the pole for his 100th ALMS race in the #55 M3 that he shared with Jörg Müller, while Joey Hand qualified car #56 fourth on the grid. Hand had waited until late it in the qualifying session to take to the track, but the session was cut short by a red flag just as he was getting up to speed.
When the field took to the track for the formation laps car #55 was missing; a leaking fuel cell kept the car in the pits for repairs, leaving Auberlen to start from pit road a lap down to the rest of the pack. He made up time on an early yellow flag period, setting a record lap in the course of his run, and needed to get by just one car, the class-leading Ferrari of Guy Cosmo, to get back on the lead lap. The Ferrari managed to hold Auberlen at bay, and he pitted just before the one-hour mark in the 2 ¾-hour race to hand off to Jörg Müller. Fourteen laps later Müller had to pit because of a puncture. He stayed in the car for the rest of the race to finish sixth, a lap down to the class winning Flying Lizard Porsche of Patrick Long and Jörg Bergmeister.
Meanwhile Joey Hand had taken up the charge for BMW, moving up to second behind the early class leader, the #4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. Before long he fell to fourth, ahead of the #4 Vette but behind the Ferrari of Cosmo and Ed Brown, the Long/Bergmeister Porsche, and the #3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia.
Hand’s car experienced a puncture, leading him to pit just a lap after Auberlen. He gave #56 to Dirk Müller, who had to bring it back just eight laps later to remove the hood after a mounting loosened. He finished fifth, with his car a lap down to the class leaders, like car #55.
The race ended under yellow after Cosmo crashed his Ferrari with just over eight minutes left. The GT class winning Porsche was followed across the line by the #3 and #4 Corvettes and the Ferrari of Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek.
The overall win went to the P1 HPD ARX prototype of Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf.
BMW Team RLL principal Bobby Rahal said, “Today was one tough day. We had a puncture on the 56 car and a fuel leak and a puncture on the 55 car. It was a long, hard day for us, but we scored points. We will need to finish in front of the Corvettes from here on out and that is going to be tough.”
Competition resumes in two weeks at Mosport.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.orgBack to News