The BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team reached the ALMS podium for the second consecutive race by scoring a third-place GT2 class finish with the No 92 M3 of Tommy Milner and Dirk Mller in the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. The duo completed 70 laps around the 1.968-mile street circuit.
Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand scored their first points of the season, finishing eighth in the No 90 M3 after losing four laps following a collision with a lapped competitor just past the one-hour mark.
Today's finish moves BMW to fourth in GT2 Manufacturer points. Milner and Mller now stand fifth in GT2 Driver points.
The race began under a bright Southern California sun with a track temperature of 100.4˚ F, as Tommy Milner started the No 92 M3 from third and Bill Auberlen behind the wheel of the No 90 M3 in fourth.
At the 30-minute mark, with 21 laps completed, Milner held onto the third position in a great battle with the fourth- and fifth-place competitor's only seconds behind. Auberlen had fallen back to sixth, eight seconds behind his teammate.Fifteen minutes later the GT2 leader fell out with a broken suspension and everybody moved up one position, Milner now 23 seconds from the new leader. Milner lost the second spot on lap 38 as the battle for the podium got even hotter.With one hour gone, Auberlen pitted having completed 40 laps. Hand joined the race with a full tank of fuel and new Dunlop tires on the No 90 M3. Milner pitted five laps later, handing the No 92 M3 over to Dirk Mller in good shape.
With all the GT2 class pitstops complete and some 30 minutes left in the race, the two M3s were back in qualifying order with the No 92 in third and the No 90 in fourth.
On lap 52, bad luck struck the No 90 M3 when Hand and a lapped competitor made contact. Damage to the front splitter and fender forced him to the pits. With only 20 minutes remaining, Hand returned his bruised and bandaged M3 to the race in tenth place. He passed one competitor and achieved another spot through attrition. With five minutes left, the only yellow flag of the race flew. The race then ended with the field behind the safety car.
Tommy Milner, driver No 92 M3 (third): "Our second podium proves how strong this team is. The tires were consistent and the team called a great pit strategy. Nobody could beat us in the corners."
Dirk Mller, driver No 92 M3 (third): "I'm thrilled to be on the podium for a second time in a row. Tommy did a fantastic first stint and Dunlop gave us excellent tires. It was quite difficult with all the traffic and the lowering sun became an issue for me late in the race. We had an awesome pit stop. It was really, quick. The M3 had me driving to the limit and I was closing the gap to P2. Unfortunately, a slow LMP1 car held me off for five laps and I lost 12 to 14 seconds. We certainly had the potential for a better result."
Bobby Rahal, Team Principal: "We are certainly happy to be on the podium for a second time. It is the best evidence of progress. It looked like we could have finished even better, but on a tight track like this it's very easy to lose time to slower traffic, even slower prototype class cars."