Podium at Watkins Glen means hopes are high for Lime Rock Park
The BMW Team RLL M6 GTLMs have been finding it tough in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. However, after a short break in the season the team got to grips with the new Michelin tyres to record a much better result at the six-hour race at Watkins Glen.
The number 25 car, driven by Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, took third place behind the new Ford GTs – which are currently the class of the field. For virtually every lap of the race it was either a Ford or a BMW at the front of the field, usually separated by just less than one second.
Bobby Rahal, Team Principal of BMW Team RLL, commented: “It was a hard race. Bill and Dirk did a very good job, but it is clear that the Fords… are currently the quickest cars out there. However, we gave them a run. We had a bad pit stop right there at the end with the number 100 car that took the wind out of our sails, so we were disappointed with that. It was still a good finish for the number 25 car. We earned some good points and when you consider how we ran at Laguna Seca this is a major improvement. On to Mosport.”
Focus on Watkins Glen
After its success at Watkins Glen, the team’s focus is turning to the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park – just 90 miles from BMW North America’s headquarters in Woodcliff Lake. The 2hr 40min is the first GTLM contest at the classic circuit, and Bill Auberlen is always a a threat at the 1.5 mile, seven turn track. As debuted at Watkins Glen, the number 25 M6 GTLM of Auberlen and Werner will run once more in the stars and stripes livery with the pair looking to emulate their previous success by getting back on the podium.
Among BMW’s successes at Lime Rock was the very first BMW win for John Edwards in 2013, however he and team mate Luhr in the number 100 BMW M6 GTLM are yet to find their form this season due to a run of bad luck. Adding another layer of complexity for the team, IMSA has made additional Balance of Performance changes to the class for this round. The BMW M6 GTLM will race with reduced boost and two litres less fuel in the tank.
Nonetheless, BMW Team RLL Team Principal, Bobby Rahal, is confident; “Obviously for us it’s a race that has a lot of importance because it’s the closest track to BMW’s headquarters. Lime Rock is a short and quick track, especially the corner coming on to the front straightaway that should fit well with the BMW M6 GTLM so I think we will be in good shape.”
At the halfway point of the IMSA season Auberlen and Werner are third in the drivers’ title race, with Edwards and Luhr ninth. Team RLL is third in the teams’ championship but BMW lies in last position in the manufacturers’ standings.