Virginia International Raceway was home to last weekends Ameican Le Mans race, w here BMW Team RLL No. 56 M3 GT of Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller finished in 4th place, and the No. 56 M3 GT of Dirk Müller and Jonathan Summerton followed behind in 9th. Unfortunately, the poor finish resulted in the end of the team’s shot at third consecutive GT class championship, while Corvette Racing took the 2012 GT titles.
For the second time now, the first turn set the tone of the entire race, where a battle between prototype cars brought out a yellow flag and caused Müller, who started from the outside of the GT class front row, was forced onto the grass, falling back to 10th. Auberlen started from 7th and had more time to react to the incident, moving up on the grass on the inside corner.
After yet another yellow flag, two driver changes and necessary pit stops, the No. 56 M3 was hit by a prototype car and forced to the pits to change a broken right front wheel. Müller returned to the race but had to pit the following lap due to damaged suspension. With a still-bent toe link, Müller continued the race to collect points, ultimately finishing in 9th.
Auberlen managed to work his way up to 3rd from 5th in the final legs of the race, but a deflating tire stripped his opportunity of a podium finish, resulting in a pass before he entered the pits for a tire change during the last minutes of the race.
“Today certainly was a challenging day for BMW Team RLL,” said Jay O’Connell, RLL VP Technology. “The No. 56 M3 GT was running in P2 before being hit by a prototype effectively ending any chance for a good finish. The No. 55 didn’t quite have the pace of the other car, but Bill and Jörg drove a good race to almost realize the podium. Unfortunately, we could not hold the position.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – (fourth) – “It is so clear that we need straight line speed. The car was good, the team was good. We just don’t have the top speed. The longer the tracks, the more we are at a disadvantage.”
Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT – (fourth) – “That was a very tough race. We made some changes that made the car better in my second stint and we were able to collect points.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – (ninth) – “It is so disappointing to end the day like this. I was chasing down the leader and – wham – I was hit off the circuit. This is the second time this season that I have been taken out of the race. The prototype that hit me lost 60 seconds for a penalty, but we lost any chance to decide the championship at Petit Le Mans.”
Jonathan Summerton, driver No. 56 M3 GT – (ninth) – “The race was going very well for us and it is a shame that it ended like this.”
The final round of ALMS will be the Petit Le Mans on October 20th. Live streaming coverage will be available on ESPN3.com starting at 11:15 a.m. ET. ABC television will broadcast a race review show at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept 21st.