Dirk Müller and John Edwards, driving the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE, scored a third place finish in today’s four-hour American Le Mans Monterey race. A second consecutive podium finish for the No. 56 machine and a win for the No. 55 car at Long Beach in only the third race of the new program keeps BMW in second place in the GT class manufacturer point standings and moves Müller to the top of the GT class driver points.
Müller started the car from the eighth starting position and by lap 27 had moved up to fourth. Just past the first hour, on lap 45, he moved to third and stayed there until handing off to Edwards on lap 57 during the races third caution period. Edwards remained in third until what could only be considered as a move-of-the-race move gave him second with an in-an-out dodge through slower traffic. A mistake on a restart cost him one spot, but he held onto third for his first ALMS podium finish.
Unfortunately, the No. 55 Z4 GTE of Bill Auberlen and Maxime Martin suffered a broken differential shortly after the mid-point of the race and had to retire on lap 85. Auberlen started the car from the fifth position and ran strongly in third for most of his first stint. A pitstop to replace damaged rear body work dropped him back one lap, but he was back on the lead lap before handing off to Martin on lap 83. Only two laps later Martin was back in the pits in a cloud of oil smoke and, ultimately, out of the race.
“Certainly today was a bitter sweet one,” said Bobby Rahal. “I’m sorry to see Bill and Max have to retire after fighting back from a lap down. Dirk is on top now and John had a very strong race. It is very hard to combat an obvious speed differential to many of our competitors, but we will keep fighting every day.”
“John and Dirk did a great job today,” said Gordon McDonnell, BMWNA Motorsport Manager. “Only three races into our new Z4 GTE program BMW Team RLL has raced Dirk to the top of the driver points and BMW to second in manufacturer points.”
John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – (3rd) – “The move was very intense. I’ve raced with Bryan (Sellers) a great deal in the GRAND AM Continental Series and when we came up on traffic I got alongside of him. When the traffic moved we had a little contact, but Bryan always races clean. I was able to take second from him, but unfortunately, I made a mistake on a restart getting a little greedy and he got the spot back. All-in-all, I am delighted to get my first ALMS podium.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – (3rd) – “We certainly were able to carry the momentum from Long Beach to another podium here at Laguna Seca. It is great to take the driver points lead, but it is so close, only single digits separate all of us now. I’m sorry Bill and Max could not finish the race.”
ESPN’s two-hour summary of the American Le Mans Monterey is set to be broadcast at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 12. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusanews.com and www.alms.com.
Following the traditional eight week break in the season for teams participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Round Four of the 2013 American Le Mans Series will be held at Lime Rock Park, in Lakeville, Conn., on July 6 with the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix.