On Saturday, November 26th, professional and privateer BMW racers attended the annual BMW Motorsport banquet in Munich and North American BMW teams and drivers were well represented to celebrate this season’s championships.
2011: A triple championship year
2011 was one of BMW’s finest years in professional sports car endurance racing with BMW teams winning championships in three major series. BMW Team RLL swept all American Le Mans Series GT class Manufacturer, Team and Driver titles showcasing the BMW M3 GT against the finest competition in the world. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates began the year with a BMW Powered victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and continued their winning ways in capturing a second consecutive sweep of Grand-Am Daytona Prototype Engine Manufacturer, Driver and Team titles. Turner Motorsport added the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport Driver and Team titles, contributing to a second consecutive GS Manufacturer’s championship for the BMW M3.
All three teams will return to defend their championships in 2012.
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said, “It goes without saying that we will not be sending a successful car like the BMW M3 GT off to the museum after a season like the one we enjoyed in 2011. BMW Team RLL will be back with this model to defend its GT titles next year.”
Paul Dalla Lana Wins 2011 Sports Trophy
Besting more than 235 BMW racing drivers from across the world Turner Motorsport driver Paul Dalla Lana was awarded the 2011 BMW Sports Trophy as the most successful privateer BMW driver of 2011. The 45-year old from Toronto, Ontario, Canada accepted a check in the amount of 30,000 Euros from BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt at the annual Sport Trophy, held in the Double Cone building at Munich’s BMW Welt.
“Congratulations to Paul Dalla Lana,” said Marquardt. “He caused a sensation in several classes in the GRAND-AM Series, in which he was a regular on the podium. It is no coincidence that a driver from Canada tops our privateer standings this year. The interest in motorsport across the Atlantic is immense, and the drivers in the North American series are also well aware that driving a BMW car significantly increases their chances.”
The BMW Sports Trophy, now in its 50th year, honors the top private BMW drivers in the world as part of BMW Motorsport’s Customer Racing program.
In only his second year of professional sports car racing Dalla Lana drove Turner Motorsport BMW M3s in a combined 22 GRAND-AM races winning the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sports (GS) Driver Championship to lead Turner Motorsport to the GS Team Championship and BMW to the GS Manufacturer’s title. In Rolex Sports Car Series competition he finished 13th in Driver points. His co-drivers included Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, Billy Johnson, Rafa Matos and Boris Said.
In GS competition, five consecutive podium finishes started his season, including a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The balance of the season included four top-10 finishes. In Rolex GT, three consecutive podium finishes included wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Barber Motorsports Park. Five top-10 finishes including two top-5’s finished off the year.
Dalla Lana started the season at the 24 Hours of Dubai with a fifth place finish in the No. 77 Need for Speed 2 BMW Z4 GT3 with co-drivers Boris Said, Bill Auberlen and Matt Plumb.
Speaking after the Award Ceremony, Dalla Lana said: “I didn’t expect to win the BMW Sports Trophy. We had a fantastic 2011 season, but this comes as no surprise when you work with BMW, a team like Turner Motorsport or drivers like Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand. It just feels great to be part of the BMW family. From talented young guns to true-blood professional drivers, everybody comes together here. Being part of it makes me proud.”
Three drivers racing in the North American ProIT Series ranked in the top-25; Rob Driscoll (3), Jeff Henderson (4) and Robert Thiele (11). Sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America the ProIT Series was conceived in 2007 to showcase the best amateur road racing in the Northeast.
Matt Plumb finished 24th in Sports Trophy balloting. He finished fourth in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS competition co-driving the No. 13 RumBum Racing BMW M3 to three victories, two third and two fifth place finishes.