Official Release: The BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3 GT Coupes finished 3rd and 5th in Saturday’s American Le Mans at Long Beach event. In a 100-minute action-packed sprint slowed by three caution periods, BMW drivers Bill Auberlen and Tommy Milner brought the No. 92 M3 home in 3rd place with 65 laps completed, 5.4 seconds behind the GT class leader. Dirk Mϋller and Joey Hand finished the race with the No. 90 M3 in 5th position.

Auberlen and Mϋller started the race by setting an aggressive pace for BMW. They ran nose-to-tail and set the fastest BMW laps of the race. Auberlen made the team’s first scheduled stop and driver change at Lap 25. YouTube: Bill Auberlen describes the race from his vantage point. (0:44)

Having qualified 6th and 7th on the GT class grid on Friday, the M3s faced a strategic challenge. Street courses such as Long Beach are characterized by extremely limited overtaking space, so the team decided to forgo changing tires. The decision saved enough time to advance the M3s to 1st and 2nd in class, Milner followed by Hand, shortly after the third caution period of the race with 30 minutes remaining. For the duration, each M3 driver strove to defend as competitors on fresh tires attacked from behind. Milner and the No. 92 M3 held the GT class lead through Lap 55 and eventually finished 3rd, while Hand experienced a yet-to-be diagnosed mechanical difficulty and salvaged 5th place in the No. 90 M3.YouTube: Bobby Rahal describes the Long Beach result (0:32).

“The third podium in our second race is a great result,” said Martin Birkmann, BMW of North America Motorsport Manager. “We selected not to change tires in our pit stops to compensate for less-than-desirable starting positions. It worked extremely well for the 92; we pulled them in at the very earliest fuel window and made up a lot of positions on the track. At the end of the day, we gambled and the downside of the strategy was that we couldn’t quite maintain the top positions, but we finished high in the points, the car shows great pace, and our drivers have been phenomenal. We are looking forward to Laguna now.”

After two events in the 2010 American Le Mans Series, BMW is second in manufacturer points behind a first place tie only one point ahead. The next race will be at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway on May 22, 2010.

About BMW Rahal Letterman Racing:

BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975.Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003.The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country.BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes.The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 338 BMW passenger car centers, 336 BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 143 BMW motorcycle retailers, 94 MINI passenger car dealers, and 31 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers.BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

BMW’s partner, Rahal Letterman Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, has been competing for more than a decade compiling 20 victories, 30 poles and one series championship (Bobby Rahal in 1992 in CART) and an Indianapolis 500 championship (Buddy Rice in 2004).In 2008 Rahal Letterman Racing again won Rookie-of-the-Year honors at the Indianapolis 500 and partnered with Andersen Racing to run two entries in the Indy Pro Series. In 2009 the team joined BMW of North America to campaign the BMW M3 as BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team in the American Le Mans Series.