Sebring – March 16, 2013… For more than eight hours a top result was in reach for BMW Team RLL at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season opener at the "Sebring International Raceway" (US). While in the end technical problems in the final third of the race denied Bobby Rahal's (US) squad a shot at a possible podium finish, BMW Motorsport was able to draw a positive conclusion after the race debut of the newly developed BMW Z4 GTE. The two cars showed a promising pace, finishing fourth and seventh in the GT category after 12 hours.
Bill Auberlen (US), Maxime Martin (BE) and Jörg Müller (DE) were able to battle it out at the front of the field with the Frozen Black No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE for most of the endurance classic, before the trio lost time and positions due to an issue with the power steering. After 330 laps, final-stint driver Müller crossed the line in fourth. The No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE, driven by Dirk Müller (DE), Joey Hand (US) and John Edwards (US), delivered an equally strong race, even leading for several kilometers in the BMW Z4 GTE's maiden ALMS race. However, a problem with the front left strut with three and a half hours to go made repair work necessary. Dirk Müller lost many positions, dropping down from second. Hand ultimately took the checkered flag in seventh. Corvette's Oliver Gavin (GB), Tommy Milner (US) and Richard Westbrook (GB) claimed victory in the GT class.
Nevertheless, BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL had every reason to be satisfied with the first outing of the BMW Z4 GTE in race conditions — on one of North America's most challenging circuits. All six drivers, including the series newcomers Martin and Edwards, were able to record competitive lap times with the new car and challenge the strong competition at the front of the GT pack. In addition, the engineers collected valuable insights over the course of the weekend, which will now be used for further development of the car and getting it prepared for the second ALMS race at Long Beach (US) on April 20.
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Posted: March 16, 2013, 5:25 pm
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