BMW Team RLL narrowly missed out on pole for the Twelve Hours of Sebring in the incredibly close GTLM category.
The top seven entries in the the 11-car class all qualified within a second of each other, with the two BMW Team RLL Z4s taking second and third behind the pole-setting #912 Porsche.
Setting a time of 1:59.024, Dirk Muller‘s lap in the #56 Z4 was just 0.91 seconds behind the pole winner, Michael Christensen. Meanwhile Bill Auberlen was only 0.70 seconds off his BMW Team RLL team-mate in the #55 machine.
“Second and third is fantastic,” said Muller, who shares his car with John Edwards and Dirk Werner in the race. “When I came into the pits I was on pole and I hoped to keep that position right to the end of the session. This morning in practice four I spent an hour in the car preparing for qualifying and it was a lot of fun driving it then. Being less than a tenth away from pole is very close and Bill just behind. It’s amazing how close the times are. In reality qualifying doesn’t count for that much at the end of the day because it is a very long race.”
“I have never felt better going into this race,” added Auberlen, who will be joined by Joey Hand and Andy Priaulx for the Twelve Hours. “If I was to pencil in who I would want as my team-mates, I have got them. I have the car I want to be in and the team I want behind me. We have every element needed to win Sebring. We’ll have to stay smart to get to the end with the amount of inexperience in this large field, but once there we’ll be ready.”
BMW Team RLL were the only team to get both cars in the top five in the GTLM class at the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, and heads to Sebring with five podium finishes to its name, including back-to-back victories in 2011 and 2012.
“We are obviously pleased with the pace of the Z4,” said Team Principle, Bobby Rahal. “We are not the fastest, but we are right in the middle of it all. This race doesn’t depend on where you start, as it is a long hard race. It is all about having a comfortable car that can be driven hard. So far – so good. We have been fortunate to win this race a couple of times, but there are twice as many cars in the race this year than there has been in the past, so the opportunities to hit somebody or get hit by somebody is far greater. It is really going to be about staying out of trouble. There is a big difference in the speed of the cars and the caliber of the drivers, so you really have to be on your toes, drive defensively as much as you can and still be fast. It will be a balancing act.”