On a day of bad luck for the two BMW Team RLL teams the pair of M3s finished fifth and sixth in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race at Lime Rock Park.
The team's bad luck started before the green flag for the two hour, 45 minute race fell as Bill Auberlen was forced to forfeit the pole position he earned in qualifying the day after a fuel leak was found on the #55 car shortly before the start of the race.
A strategy call not to pit under the opening caution allowed Auberlen to regain some of the track position lost to the pre-race problem before pitting under green on lap 61 for co-driver Jorg Muller to take his place behind the wheel. A flat tyre later in the lost Muller a lap to the class leaders, leaving him to finish in sixth position at the checkered flag.
“We won practice,” Auberlen said. “We won qualifying. Unfortunately, today was not our day although BMW Team RLL gave JÃ¶rg and me a car that was fast and capable of winning. I’ve seen days end worse than this. We can be proud to have taken a car that started one lap down to the field and finish sixth.”
Sharing the sister car Joey Hand and Dirk Muller suffered a puncture of their own on the way to finishing fifth. A lap after his namesake Jorg took control of the other car Muller had limp the #56 car back to the pits. Dirk then had to make a further stop when a mounting for the bonnet on the BMW came loose. The team removed the bonnet, Muller completing the remainder of the race.
“That was a long two hours and 45 minutes,” commented Hand. “It always feels like that when it isn't your day. A puncture to the left front tyre and the hood coming loose caused us to make two pit stops under green. Still we powered back for a fifth place finish and really didn’t lose a lot of points to the class leaders. BMW Team RLL never gives up. Bob is always on the radio telling you to just keep pushing.”
With the difficult race BMW lost ground to rivals Corvette Racing in the manufacturer standings, now trailing by ten points at the start of a frantic few months for the ALMS teams and drivers.