IMSA | Difficult End to the Season for BMW Team RLL
BMW Team RLL had a tough end to the season as the final round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship made its way to Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans. Technical issues blighted both the number 100 and number 25 cars, causing Team RLL to miss out on any significant points haul.
In the number 100 car, regular drivers John Edwards and Lucas Luhr were joined by Kuno Wittmer to cover the 10 hours of racing at Road Atlanta. Bad luck was never far away, however. A quarter of the way into the race the BMW M6 GTLM with Wittmer at the wheel was hit by a competitor, sending it spinning off the track. Despite re-joining the race, later on alternator issues necessitated a long pit stop to carry out repairs. Whilst this was done under yellow flag conditions (due to a broken road surface requiring attention) the number 100 car still lost several laps which couldn’t be made up before the end of the 10 hours. At the flag, the car of Edwards, Luhr and Wittmer was sixth.
Things were looking up for the number 25 car of Bill Auberlen, Dirk Werner and Augusto Farfus with a podium finish very much on the cards for the majority of the race. With two hours to go, the BMW M6 GTLM was running in third position, but bad luck was never far away. A damaged steering rack necessitated a long repair, causing the number 25 car to lose significant ground and ultimately forced the team to retire. The ultimate victory went to the number 62 Ferrari.
Despite a cruel end to its first season, the BMW M6 GTLM hasn’t been without its fair share of success. A respectable fifth in the 24 hours of Daytona and podiums at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road America demonstrate that there is significant potential in the car.
Bobby Rahal, Team Principal of BMW Team RLL, said; “It is a disappointing end to the year. The 25 car was having quite a good race and maybe could have had a podium, but it had issues at the end. The 100 car got taken out by a Ford GT early on, then we had an alternator failure because of that later on. Everyone worked so hard this year and I feel bad of the team and bad for the drivers as you hate to end it on this note. That is racing. Now we put our heads down and get ready for next year and hopefully have a much better one.”
GTD Class Debut Season
As well as being the debut season for the M6 in the GTLM class, Turner Motorsport’s newly developed BMW M6 GT3 left the pits for the first time at the beginning of the season. Will Turner and his team celebrated two wins – one in the IWSC race at Motorsport in Canada and another at Austin. However, Road Atlanta was almost as equally unforgiving to Turner Motorsport as it was to BMW Team RLL. The number 96 car of Jens Klingmann and Bret Curtis, supported at the meeting by Ashley Freiberg, was forced to retire shortly before the chequered flag after Palttala in the number 97 sister car broke the cardinal rule of racing: Never hit your team mate. With significant damage, Klingmann couldn’t carry on and showed his displeasure with a pretty convincing door slam in the pits. Despite the impact, the number 97 car (driven by Michael Marshal, Markus Palttala and Cameron Lawrence) fared better, finishing fourth in the GTD class.
Next year’s IMSA WeatherTech Championship begins on 28th/29th January 2017. The 24 Hours of Daytona will kick off another exciting season, including a total of 11 races scheduled for the GTLM class.