Sebring, Fla. – March 19, 2009… Bill Auberlen, driving the No. 90 BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3, qualified seventh for the 57th annual 12 Hours of Sebring. Auberlen ‘s lap of 2:04.566 minutes around the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway places him and co-driver Joey Hand in the top-half of the 15-car GT2 class field for the team ‘s debut race.

Dirk Müller, driving the No. 92 BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3, experienced mechanical problems immediately after leaving the pits and did not complete a qualifying lap. Müller, who will co-drive with Tommy Milner, will have to start from the rear of the field.

Two more sessions are scheduled before Saturday’s 12 Hours of Sebring. A one-hour-and-forty-five minute practice is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. this evening. A final one hour practice session is scheduled for 9:55 a.m. tomorrow morning. The 57th annual 12 Hours of Sebring starts at 10:30 a.m.

Bobby Rahal, team principal:

“We’ve approached this season very conservatively. Bill and Joey starting seventh is not unexpected. The failure of the prop shaft in the No. 92 car certainly puts Dirk and Tommy behind at the start, but at Sebring qualifying position has very little to do with finishing position. I believe in the team, the cars, and the drivers so a small problem in qualifying does not ruin our weekend. The prop shaft had more than the race distance on it and had been scheduled to be changed before the race.”

Bill Auberlen, No. 90 M3:

“We are at the beginning of the program and every time we run the car we learn and improve. Seventh starts us right in the middle of the action and that is not a bad place to begin. There is nothing like Sebring and I am confident we’ll be ready to race.”

Dirk Müller, No. 92 M3:

“I feel very sorry for the team and share their disappointment. They have worked too hard to be let down by a problem in our very first qualifying attempt. Obviously, we were all expecting to have smiles on our faces, but just after leaving the pits I heard a noise underneath the car and, sadly for everyone, had to bring it slowly back in.”

Official BMW release/Photo: Paddocktalk