Despite sweeping the American Le Mans Series GT class championships in 2011 and the Manufacturer and Team titles in 2010, one important victory has thus far eluded BMW Team RLL. In both seasons Joey Hand and Dirk Müller have finished in the runner-up spot, but never on the top step of the Laguna Seca Raceway podium. BMW Team RLL is hoping to change that for 2012.
BMW has shared a significant history with the classic 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course beginning with a win by Hans Joachim Stuck and Dieter Quester in a BMW CSL in 1975. Nothing would please the Bobby Rahal-led team as much as adding one more Laguna Seca victory during BMW Motorsport’s 40th anniversary year.
The six-hour American Le Mans Monterey race will be held on May 12th, returning to the third round of the series, as it was in 2010, rather than being the penultimate round of the championship last year. The team arrives tied for the lead in Manufacturer point standings. Hand and Müller sit atop the Driver points after a win at the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring and a second place finish four weeks ago at Long Beach.
Teammates Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller finished fourth in the ALMS class at Sebring, but an early race collision at Long Beach knocked them out of a points-paying finish. Both BMW veterans know the way to victory lane at Laguna Seca having both won in significant BMW racing machines of previous years. In 1998, Auberlen co-drove with Didier de Radigues to the first BMW-powered prototype win at Laguna Seca proving the engine package that would power BMW to the 1999 Le Mans victory. Müller shared a GT win with JJ Lehto at Laguna Seca in 2001 in the BMW M3 GTR on his way the that season’s driving title.
“The last two years we were in a position to win the race but we failed to do so, so I’m hopeful that the third time is the charm,”said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “The track has suited the car and we are hoping for a great result. Personally, and as a team, whether it be with BMW Team RLL or with the Indy car team, we have had a lot of success at Laguna Seca so we are hopeful that the tradition continues.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “Our team was first and second with just minutes remaining in last year’s race when we had a mechanical problem and the other M3 GT fell back. Those days are over and we intend fully on completing what we missed out on last year. The RLL team has been and the Dunlop tires are even better so I am very positive about our potential.”
Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “My first time at Laguna Seca was 1998 in the GT1 World Championship in the Porsche GT1 and my last time was in 2001 in the BMW GTR. That was a few years ago, but Laguna Seca is a track you never forget with its famous Corkscrew chicane. I'm really looking forward for this ace because the points we have in the championship at the moment do not show the pace and the performance of No. 55 M3 GT.”
Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “Laguna Seca always gives the fans some of the best racing of the season. The circuit is especially suited to the strengths of the BMW M3 GT and our Dunlop tires so we have always been in the hunt. We’ve come close to the win in the previous two years, but just have not closed the deal. With a bit of luck we will get the win this year.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – "I am really up for the race in Laguna Seca. The season has started brilliantly for me with the win in Sebring and second place in Long Beach. I have also finished on the podium at all my outings so far in the VLN Endurance Championship on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. Long may this run continue. In 2010 and 2011 we finished runner-up to secure the title in Laguna Seca. As this year's event comes earlier in the calendar, we can take a more aggressive approach. I am really looking forward to it."
The six-hour American Le Mans Monterey race is the third round of the 2012 ALMS championship. The race will take the green flag at 1:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 12. ESPN2 will air the race at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 13. Live coverage is available starting at 4:15 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
The Series’ website offers additional content such as live in-car cameras, and timing and scoring for all users around the world. Viewers outside the U.S. can watch all ALMS races live on www.ALMS.com