The pair of Rahal Letterman Racing BMW M3s took very different routes to very similar qualifying results taking fifth and sixth on the gird in the GT class.
Dirk Muller was once of a clutch of drivers to take to the track at the first opportunity when the lights went green at the start of the 20-minute qualifying session, setting a time of 1:23.379 on his third flying lap in the car he shares with Joey Hand.
On the other hand American Bill Auberlan, taking qualifying responsibilities for qualifying in his and Tommy Milner's no.92 car, opted to stay in the pitlane for the first five minutes – avoiding the early exchanges in the session for the super competitive GT class and the Porsche-only GT Challenge class.
However, there was still time for Auberlan to notch up half-a-dozen flying laps, the time on his fifth lap transpiring to be his fastest, less than three-hundredths faster than Muller.
The two drivers were relatively happy with their performance, that put them behind the class powerhouses Ferrari and Corvette, with Auberlan pointing out that the team have found around a second in lap time over the off-season. However, the team are also aware that the race is a matter of endurance, the six-hour event being more than double the ALMS standard event.
“You've got to keep it out of the gravel trap, you've got to keep it clean,” said Auberlan. “Tommy and I are just going to try to bring it home high in the points like we've done the first two races.”
“The trick is don't get in trouble right now.”
Muller is more candid with his opinion as he points out that “bringing it home high in the points” is by no means simple, thanks to the “bloody tight” nature of the GT championship.