Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana drove the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 to the GT class victory in Saturday’s Rolex Sports Car Series EMCO Gears Classic. It was the first win for the duo this season and their fifth top five finish in a row. This victory comes in the middle of a very busy month that will see four GT races at Detroit, Mid-Ohio, Road America and Watkins Glen.
Dalla Lana started the 2.75-hour race from the eighth starting spot and drove a fine first stint to move up and hand the M3 off to Auberlen in perfect shape. Auberlen, who missed last year’s Rolex race at Mid-Ohio due to a conflict, continued to move up through the field. Within an hour the Californian was at the front of the 17-car field. Surrendering the lead during the final round of pit stops he rejoined the race in tenth, but regained the point with 45 minutes remaining. A late race caution erased the eight second cushion he had built up, but he held off the No. 69 Ferrari of Jeff Segal to win by .952 seconds at the checkered flag.
Dalla Lana, last season’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport driver’s champion, and the veteran Auberlen had put together a string of fifth place finishes in their last three races together, but a recent test at Watkins Glen left the team hopefully confident for a better result at Mid-Ohio. The speed found at that test, fantastic race strategy and spot on pit stops added up for to the first victory of the season for the team.
In Saturday’s opening race, Michael Marsal and Boris Said finished 11th in the No. 97 BMW M3 in the 2.5-hour Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge contest. Auberlen and Dalla Lana suffered an oil pump failure in the No. 96 BMW M3 and did not finish. “Something about Mid-Ohio likes us and we like something about this track,” said Will Turner. “I can’t put my finger on it, but Turner Motorsport, BMW and Mid-Ohio make a great combination. Coming into this race I was confident we could have a good finish, but a win – though not out of the question – seemed a bit of a reach. This is a very competitive class and we are delighted to race a BMW to the top of the podium as they celebrate 40 years of BMW ///M.”
The CTSCC race will be televised on SPEED television on June 17 at 12:00 p.m. ET. The EMCO Gears Classic rebroadcast can be found on Grand-Am.com.
The next rounds of the 2012 Grand-Am season will be held at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on June 23.