With the American Le Mans Series GT Team and Driver championships secured at Laguna Seca on Sept. 17th, BMW Team RLL has three goals set for the 14th annual Petit Le Mans this weekend. The team has set it sights on winning a second consecutive GT Manufacturer title, move drivers Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner to second place in the driver point standings and win Dunlop the Tire Manufacturer's championship.
The 1000-mile race also serves as the penultimate round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup where BMW Team RLL will represent BMW Motorsport for a second time this season. The first was the 12 Hours of Sebring where the team finished first and second with the same six-driver lineup that will pilot the potent BMW M3 GTs this weekend.
Joey Hand, Dirk Müller and Andy Priaulx will co-drive the No. 56 M3 GT. Hand, Müller and Priaulx won the 12 Hours of Sebring with Hand and Müller winning the next two rounds at Long Beach and Lime Rock Park. Three more podium finishes in the next five rounds allowed Hand and Müller to clinch the Driver's title at Laguna Seca with a second place finish.
Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner will be joined in the No. 55 M3 by Augusto Farfus. The trio finished second at the 12 Hours of Sebring with Auberlen and Werner finishing on the podium three more times in the next seven rounds. Auberlen and Werner stand third in ALMS driver points, only nine points in arrears, and with a strong Petit Le Mans finish could move to second place.
"BMW Team RLL is extremely pleased to have clinched the driver and team championships, but there is more work to be done to win championships for BMW and Dunlop," said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal . "We intend to go all out in pursuit of those titles as well. But championships aside, to win Petit Le Mans would be a major accomplishment for us and our drivers. This is a grueling race on the team and the car and we need to manage ourselves so that we can be in the hunt at the end."
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT - "Petit Le Mans has mixed emotions for me. I am pumped up because it's one of the world's great endurance races, but it's also the last race of the year and no racing driver wants the season to end. Joey and Dirk have clinched the Driver and Team Championships, but this team has two more championships to nail down."
Dirk Werner, driver No. 55 M3 GT -"I am really looking forward to the season's finale. Of course, we want to add the manufacturer's championship. We expect it to be a hard race, due to the long distance and the high number of starters. Bill and I are still keen to celebrate our first victory of the season, so I am highly motivated. The car will be very good - like it always has been throughout the season."
Augusto Farfus, driver No. 55 M3 GT - "This will be my first time at Road Atlanta so I have to get to know to the circuit which is quite fast from what I have heard. It is great that BMW already won the driver's championship. I am looking forward to such a big race. I hope we can have a good weekend."
Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GT - "It feels great to have two championships wrapped up before Petit Le Mans. When we won Sebring this year I thought that this would be our year. It took a lot of hard work and with the help of BMW Motorsport, BMW of North America, RLL and Dunlop we are almost there. We go to Petit Le Mans to win the Manufacturer's Championship and the Tire Manufacturer's title. It will be great to have Andy Priaulx back to help us try to finish the season the way we started it."
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT -"I am still really excited about having won the title in the driver's championship. Obviously we cannot celebrate the title yet, as the manufacturer's championship is not decided. We are keen to win the prestigious race at Road Atlanta, and we are keen to win the manufacturers' title for BMW, so we still are extremely motivated. We are looking forward to Augusto's and Andy's support. We have a very good car and a very strong team, so we want to achieve both targets."
Andy Priaulx, driver No. 56 M3 GT - "I am really excited going to Petit Le Mans. Obviously Dirk and Joey just won the driver's championship with BMW, so it is a very good environment to go into. I am looking forward very much and will enjoy the race."
Following a test session on Wednesday, Sept. 28, practice and qualifying for the Petit Le Mans will be held on Thursday, Sept. 29 and Friday, Sept. 30. The 1000-mile race is scheduled to take the green flag at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday, Oct. 1. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com and a two-hour highlights show will be broadcast on ABC television at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 2.