Official Release: Despite both BMW Team RLL Z4 GTLM machines showing speed in practice and taking their turn leading today’s Brickyard Grand Prix, the 2.75-hour race ended with neither car reaching the Indianapolis Motor Speedway podium.
Round Seven of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the first race of the new sports car series held at the 2.435-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, was a dramatic affair. Contact from the extremely close competition ultimately slowed both BMWs, relegating them to sixth and seventh place finishes. After beginning the season with four consecutive podium finishes, the last three races have seen a best finish of fourth (Round Six, CTMP, 4th, No. 56).
Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx finished sixth in the No. 55 BMW Z4 GTLM. Priaulx started the race from the fifth position and quickly moved up to third, then second, but dropped to tenth after being forced to the pits for damage to the rear of the car after contact with a Prototype car. Needing less fuel because of his early stop, the race’s third caution period saw him cycle to the front of the GTLM field. A difficult restart dropped him to eighth before pitting to give Auberlen the wheel. The Californian quickly regained two positions and held the position for the remainder of the race to finish sixth.
The No. 56 BMW Z4 GTLM of John Edwards and Dirk Müller finished seventh. Edwards started from his second place qualifying position and within minutes of the green flag was in the lead. Unfortunately, contact before the 30 minute mark damaged the right front of the Z4, affecting the handling of the car for the remainder of the race. On lap 64 he made his second pit stop to hand off to Müller. Unable to push as hard as he is accustomed, the BMW Motorsport driver ultimately finished seventh.
Separately, in the GTD class, the Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GTD, driven by Dane Cameron and Paul Dalla Lana, experienced bad luck and finished 15th.
“Today, sports car racing was a contact sport, and unfortunately we were involved in some of it.” said Gordon McDonnell, BMWNA Motorsport Manager. “It affected the performance of our car and we were never really able to challenge for the win. It was a disappointing weekend overall, but we will be back at Road America and continue on.”
“We got caught up in some incidents at re-starts and damaged the front of the number 56 car,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “I think we probably lost some downforce, and we were very slow on the straights. We were missing half the front bodywork and you can’t do that and expect to win. Our pace in the beginning of the race was good until that point. The 55 car had a physical race as well. All things considered, it was a very frustrating day.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (6th) – “We were pretty much quickest in every practice session and qualified P2 and P5. I thought we had a chance here, but the problem was too much carnage on the track. Both cars got damaged and didn’t handle properly in the race. But the team was flawless and, along with Michelin, provided us with every tool we needed. The damage to the car ultimately slowed us. I feel bad for the team. We were lucky to have finished.”
Andy Priaulx, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (6th) – “It was a tough race. We had a good first stint and were looking quite racy. Unfortunately, a prototype car hit me from behind, turned me round and damaged the car. At the re-start I was shuffled back from P1 to P6. The car was strong all weekend in terms of single lap pace, so I think there are some positives from our performance, but obviously we are missing a lot of performance compared to the other manufacturers.”
John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (7th) – “I am trying to be optimistic, but unfortunately this was another race to forget. We were looking good at the start. The Ferrari made a mistake and we got in the lead with the 55 car in P2. With yellows bunching up the field it just became mayhem again. I lost some time in traffic, had some damage from traffic and slower PC cars.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (7th) – “I had a blunt instrument for my fight today. Because of the damage at the front of the car I was down probably ten kilometers in top speed on the long straight. I found a way to drive around it and my lap times were actually quite good. At the start of the race when we were leading I thought this was our shot here, but then we got hit…”
Round Eight of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, will take place at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Sunday, August 10th. The race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.imsa.com.