BMW Team RLL heads to the August 18th Road America Road Race Showcase for the seventh round the 2012 American Le Mans Series ready to extend its record of excellent finishes at the longest road course in North America.
Road America’s fast 4.048-miles has been the stage for many BMW Team RLL triumphs. Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand took the checkered flag in 2009 for the team’s very first victory. Tommy Milner and Dirk Müller finished second to make it the team’s first 1-2 finish as well. The next year Joey and Dirk, now co-drivers, took the win again. Last year the team was denied the victory, but finished with both cars on the podium in second and third.
With five podium finishes in the first six races of the season, including a win at the 12 Hours of Sebring, BMW stands second in the GT Class Manufacturer points and BMW Team RLL is second in Team points. Joey Hand and Dirk Müller stand second in Driver points. Teammates Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller are sixth.
This year marks the first time BMW Team RLL will race without Joey Hand because of a conflict with his DTM program. Jonathan Summerton, who co-drove with Hand and Müller to the 12 Hours of Sebring victory this year, will substitute for Hand.
“Elkhart Lake is, without a doubt, the best circuit in North America and one of the top five in the world. It’s a great circuit with long straights, fast corners, tight corners, heavy braking – it’s a very demanding circuit for the driver and car”, said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “Dunlop has done a great job for us over the course of our relationship and we’re going to really need to rely on their help at Road America. We have gotten our cars to handle better so hopefully again that can help negate the disadvantage we have in straight line speed to Ferrari, Corvette and Porsche. Generally we are pretty good under braking at Elkhart Lake, but the big thing is the amount of speed you can carry through the corners and that comes down to handling and aerodynamics.”
Commenting on his time as a driver at Road America, he said, “I was on pole in an Indy car a couple of times (1986, 1991) but I never won an Indy car race there even though it was my favorite circuit. I won the Road America 500 in a 962 Porsche in 1985 so that was very special for me. Elkhart Lake is the circuit I kind of grew up at in a lot of respects; I just love everything about it. If you do well there, you really feel like you’ve done something.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “Road America is one of my favorite tracks in North America. It’s fast and fun and it brings out the best in the best drivers and it brings out the best in the best cars. This year we are down on top speed to the competition, but you should never count us out – especially at Road America.”
J ö rg M ü ller, driver No. 55 M3 GT - “I am taking my first visit to Road America very seriously. I have been hearing stories from my teammates as well as other drivers that the up and down hills and different types of corners are difficult to learn. They also say the track is wonderful to drive. It will be hard work to perform well, and I look forward to the whole thing.”
Dirk M ü ller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “The second half of the season has started and we are in the hunt for the championship. Road America is very special place for me and BMW Team RLL has had a lot of success there.”
Jonathan Summerton, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “Road America is my favorite track in North America. I raced from 9th to 1st there in the 2008 Atlantic Championship. I'm very excited to be back in the BMW M3 GT again. I learned a lot at Sebring about GT racing and I hope I can continue to help BMW win the championship again this season.”
The Road America Road Race Showcase will take the green flag at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, August 18th. Live streaming coverage is available starting at 3:45 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com. ESPN2 will broadcast the race at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 19th.