BMW Motorsport will take the Z4 GTE into its first street fight in Long Beach, California this weekend. The competition will be fierce but with two native Californians behind the wheel of Munich ‘s latest skunk works project anything is possible- we ‘d love at least the the third step on the podium.
Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 19, 2013 . . . BMW Team RLL will start in the fifth and seventh positions for tomorrow’s two-hour ALMS at Long Beach race, the second round of the 2013 American Le Mans Series.
Bill Auberlen, driving the Frozen Black No. 55 Z4 GTE, saved his best lap for last in this afternoon’s 15-minute qualifying session. Only 0.218 seconds from the class pole time, his lap of 1:19.063 minutes on his ninth lap of the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit was good enough for the fifth starting position. Always one of the most competitive races of the ALMS season, the entire GT class is only separated by 0.688 seconds. Auberlen will share the No. 55 machine with Maxime Martin.
Joey Hand struggled with the set-up of the No. 56 Z4 GTE and his fast lap of 1:19.258 minutes will see him and co-driver Dirk Müller roll off seventh. Hand and Müller won this race from the pole in 2011 and finished second last year.
The new machines had an excellent first race at the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring in March. Running competitive lap times at the sharp end of the GT field for the first two-thirds of the race, the team ultimately finished fourth and seventh after mechanical problems hindered any chance at challenging for the podium.
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – (5th) “I believe we made some good choices after this morning’s practice and the No. 55 Z4 GTE was a pleasure to drive. That I was able to set my quickest time on my last lap means we have something for the race. A few tenths off the pole in such a competitive class means we’ll start fifth, but we have a car that can reach the podium tomorrow.”
Joey Hand, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – (7th) “We just were not 100% this afternoon. I’m not sure why, but I was not comfy and I could not produce the lap time to do better than P7. We’re racing at a competition level in this class that does not allow you to be off even a little.”
Live streaming of the race can be found on ESPN3.com. Follow us on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. Television coverage will be broadcast on ABC television on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.alms.com.