IMSA: BMW Team RLL Forced to Retire Early
After a good result finishing third in the last round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen, hopes were high of a similarly good finish at Lime Rock Park. Unfortunately, the Northeast Grand Prix turned into a demolition derby for BMW Team RLL as both BMW M6 GTLM cars ended the day on recovery trucks.
The race started with promise for the number 25 car of Bill Auberlen and Werner. Werner, starting the race from the outside of the front row, jumped into the lead on lap two and held it for more than one hour, only relinquishing it on lap 63 following a very strong move in the uphill chicane by the number 62 Ferrari of Toni Vilander. As Auberlen was putting on his helmet, ready to take over in a scheduled stop ten laps later, Werner was drilled into the wall on lap 89. The incident took place at Lime Rock Park’s downhill turn and despite a heavy impact with the tyres, Werner was unhurt. Auberlen did not get a chance to drive.
For the number 100 BMW M6 GTLM the race ended almost as soon as it began. John Edwards, starting from eighth on the grid, was hit in the downhill turn on lap five and spun into the tyre wall at the beginning of the main straight. Damage to the car forced its retirement. Lucas Luhr also did not get a chance to drive.
In a cruel twist of fate, it was actually the same Porsche – the No912 entry of Earl Bamber and Frédéric Makowiecki – that took both BMWs off the road. Bobby Rahal, Team Principal of BMW Team RLL said, “Totally unnecessary driving by both drivers of the same car was responsible for eliminating both of our cars from the race. I told the officials if it was the last corner of the last lap of the race I could understand it, but we were only just over halfway through the race. Obviously I am pretty upset about it. Dirk was doing a great job, the 25 car was in a position to win this race and was competitive enough to do it. Unfortunately we didn’t get far with the 100 car.”
Come the chequered flag after a gruelling 167 laps around the shortest track on the calendar, the victory was taken by the number four Corvette of Gavin and Milner.
The Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 cars finished sixth – number 96 of BMW works driver Jens Klingmann and Bret Curtis – and seventh – the number 97 of Markus Palttala and Michael Marsal – in the GTD class.