BMW Team RLL will contest its fourth Petit Le Mans race this weekend with only one goal – a victory. The two previous season’s American Le Mans Series season-ending 1000-mile race was run with championships at stake. A fourth place finish in 2010 and a third place finish in 2011 secured BMW consecutive GT class manufacturer’s titles. The team’s best Petit Le Mans finish of second came in 2009 when the event was shortened before the mid-point by torrential rains. This year, with the class championship’s decided, the only goal is the top of the podium.
With two wins and an additional four podium finishes in the first nine races of the season, BMW stands third in Manufacturer points, only three points behind Porsche. Dirk Müller stands fifth in driver points, only three points from second. Joey Hand will miss the race due to his DTM commitments, but presently holds sixth place in the driver standings. Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller stand seventh. They are only eleven points from second so all three of the season-long drivers have a chance to finish as high as second with a good result at the 15th annual Petit Le Mans.
BMW Motorsport driver Uwe Alzen will substitute for Joey Hand and join Dirk Müller in the No. 56 M3 GT. Jonathan Summerton is entered as the third driver in both cars.
“We have generally been quick at Road Atlanta but we haven’t quite been able to get to the top of the podium,”said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “It’s a tough race, probably in some ways tougher than Sebring. There are a lot of cars on a very narrow, fast track so it is very easy to run into problems which happened to us last year; one car got hit. It’s a really hard race, in part because it gets dark so early and it gets cold generally. It’s very easy to make mistakes, or to get involved in someone else’s mistakes. Last year Dirk Müller ran over a guy’s car that had no tail lights, no nothing, coming underneath the bridge, and it really took us out of the race. We have had some good cars there over the years and I anticipate that once again we will have a strong run. I thought Jonathan Summerton did a very good job at VIR and he will be doing double duty driving both cars as we need. Everybody wants to end the year on a high note again and win this race.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “My favorite race in my favorite car. Now I just need to do my favorite thing - win!!”
Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “I'm really looking forward for Petit Le Mans. It has been a long season and I hope to finish with a good result. I have very good memories of Road Atlanta. That was where I won the championship in 2001.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “The short break before Petit has been great to get my batteries charged. Unfortunately with two incidents caused by the competition we are out of the championship hunt, but we are fighting for second. Petit is a very intense race. We are really focused to finish on a high note.”
Jonathan Summerton, driver No. 55/56 M3 GT – “Petit has always been a race I have wanted to drive in. I am looking forward to driving both the No. 55 and No. 56 car. Hopefully we bring one across the finish line first.”
The 15th Annual Petit Le Mans will take the green flag at 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 20 with live streaming coverage available on ESPN3.com starting at 11:15 p.m. ET. ABC will broadcast a review and highlight show of the race at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 21.
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 ALMS.com. Follow the action from the BMW Team RLL pit box on Twitter @BMWUSARacing