The North American BMW teams and drivers were well represented to celebrate this season’s championships.
2011 was one of BMW’s finest years in professional sports car endurance racing, with BMW teams winning championships in three major series: BMW Team RLL swept all American Le Mans Series GT class Manufacturer, Team and Driver titles showcasing the BMW M3 GT against the finest competition in the world.
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates began the year with a BMW Powered victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and captured 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.
Turner Motorsport driver Paul Dalla Lana was selected from all privateer BMW drivers around the world to win the 2011 Sports Trophy. In doing so he beat more than 235 BMW racing drivers to be crowned the most successful privateer BMW driver of 2011.
The 45 year-old from Toronto, Canada accepted a check and trophy from BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt at the annual Sport Trophy, held at the BMW Welt building in Munich.
“Congratulations to Paul Dalla Lana,” said Marquardt. “He caused a sensation in several classes in the Grand-Am Series, in which he was a regular on the podium. It is no coincidence that a driver from Canada tops our privateer standings this year. The interest in motorsport across the Atlantic is immense, and the drivers in the North American series are also well aware that driving a BMW car significantly increases their chances.”
In only his second year of professional sports car racing, Dalla Lana drove Turner Motorsport BMW M3s in 22 Grand-Am races, winning the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sports (GS) Driver Championship to lead Turner Motorsport to the GS Team Championship, and BMW to the GS Manufacturer’s title.
In GS competition, Dalla Lana started his season with five consecutive podium finishes, including a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The balance of the season included four top-ten finishes.
In the Rolex Sports Car Series, Dalla Lana finished 13th in Driver points. His co-drivers included Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, Billy Johnson, Rafa Matos and Boris Said. Here, he had three consecutive podium finishes, included wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Barber Motorsports Park. Five top-ten finishes including two top-fives to finish off the year.
Dalla Lana started the season at the 24 Hours of Dubai, with a fifth place finish in the No. 77 Need for Speed 2 BMW Z4 GT3 with co-drivers Boris Said, Bill Auberlen and Matt Plumb.
Speaking after the Award Ceremony, Dalla Lana said: “I really didn’t expect to win the BMW Sports Trophy. However, we had a fantastic 2011 season thanks to BMW, Turner Motorsport and drivers like Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand. It feels great to be part of the BMW family. Being part of it makes me proud.”
Team owner Will Turner commented: "It’s a testament to the hard work and professionalism of Paul and everybody at Turner Motorsport. I’m delighted that Michael, Bill, Joey and I could attend the event and celebrate with Paul. We had a great time, and the day before the party was spent in meetings at BMW Motorsport to further our relationship and make future racing plans."
Three drivers racing in the North American ProIT Series ranked in the top-25; Rob Driscoll (3), Jeff Henderson (4) and Robert Thiele (11). Sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America, the ProIT Series was conceived in 2007 to showcase the best amateur road racing in the Northeast.
Matt Plumb finished 24th in Sports Trophy balloting. He finished fourth in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS competition co-driving the No. 13 RumBum Racing BMW M3 to three victories, two third and two fifth place finishes.