With the waving of the green flag to start the January 27th BMW Performance 200, the opening round of this year's Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, the 2012 North American sports car racing season gets underway for more than 50 BMW drivers gathered for the Grand-Am Sports Car Series 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona weekend.
The BMW Performance 200 will see the 16 BMWs entered in the Grand Sport and Street Tuner classes led to the green flag by a very special new BMW. The 2013 BMW M5 will serve as the race pace car and be displayed at the track throughout the weekend. Additionally, the all-new 2012 BMW 3 Series will make its second public appearance at the Rolex 24 only weeks after making its worldwide debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The opening round of the CTSCC season has been won by a BMW M3 for the last three seasons and the car has gone on to sweep the GS class titles in the last two years.
"BMW Performance Parts is thrilled to sponsor the opening round of this year's Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge," said Craig Westbrook, Vice President Aftersales, BMW of North America. "As leaders in the performance parts and accessories market, there is no better place to showcase our passion than on the racetrack." Every "Ultimate Driver" of the 12 BMW and BMW powered teams racing at the venerable Daytona International Speedway road course in both the CTSCC BMW Performance 200 and the classic twice-around-the-clock Rolex 24 will be looking to continue their successes from 2011 Grand-Am competition.
In both 2010 and 2011, BMW teams won championships in two of the three Grand-Am series. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates began 2011 with a BMW Powered victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and continued their winning ways to capture a second consecutive sweep of Grand-Am Daytona Prototype Engine Manufacturer, Driver and Team titles. Turner Motorsport added the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport Driver and Team titles, contributing to a second consecutive GS Manufacturer's championship for the BMW M3.
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates returns with its 2011 race-winning driver lineup in the No. 01 Telmex-liveried car of Joey Hand, Scott Pruett, Graham Rahal and Memo Rojas. Turner Motorsport holds up BMW honors in the GT class with two BMW powered M3s for drivers Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana - the winner of the 2011 GS driver's championship and BMW Sports Trophy - , Billy Johnson and Boris Said in the No. 94 M3. Michael Marsal, Dirk Muller, Jorg Muller and Dirk Werner will pilot the No. 93 Turner machine.
An additional BMW powered Daytona Prototype is entered by 50+ Predator/Alegra for drivers Bryon Defoor, Brian Johnson, Jim Pace, Elliot Forbes-Robinson and Carlos de Quesada.
Practice and qualifying for both the BMW Performance 200 and the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona will be held on Thursday, January 26th. The BMW Performance 200 starts at 1:30 p.m. Friday, January 27th and the 50th Annual Rolex 24 at Daytona takes the green flag at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, January 28th. All 24 hours of the Rolex 24 will be broadcast live or via internet streaming on SPEED television and speedtv.com. The BMW Performance 200 will be televised on SPEED television on Saturday, February 4 at 4:00 p.m. ET.