LONG BEACH, Ca. (April 18, 2015) – BMW Team RLL took its second Long Beach GT victory in the past three years and its first in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in impressive fashion on the famous street circuit.
After dropping from second to fifth place in the GTLM class due to a refueling issue on its only pit stop, BMW’s Dirk Werner rallied from some 10.1 seconds down on a 1.968 mile street circuit where passing opportunities are limited.
“When you have BMW, the Rahal Team RLL, MICHELIN tires and (co-driver) Dirk Werner you have a winning combination,” said an exuberant co-winner Bill Auberlen.
For the second consecutive year in the 100 minute race, the shortest of the TUDOR Championship, ran caution flag free.
“Our goal is always to keep a consistent pace through the whole stint and to maintain consistent lap times even as the fuel load lightens and the tires wear,” said Werner who set the fastest GTLM lap of the race and a new class race lap record on lap 63, or 33 laps into his 43 lap stint. “That (setting fastest lap so late in a stint) can only happen when you have a good set up, the right tires and pressures.”
Hometown favorite Auberlen, a resident of nearby Redondo Beach, started from the pole after setting a new class lap record as the top six cars, all Michelin technical partner teams, bested the previous track qualifying lap mark.
The Risi Competizione Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella leapt from its third place starting position passing both BMW’s John Edwards and Auberlen on the opening lap and maintained the lead except for pit strategies, until lap 63 of the 73 GTLM laps.
Fisichella and co-driver Pierre Kaffer finished second followed by Corvette Racing’s championship leading Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia.
The Porsche North America team’s Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet and the BMW of Edwards and Lucas Luhr completed a Michelin sweep of the top five GTLM finishing positions together with new Long Beach qualifying and race lap records.
“We want to congratulate our friends at BMW, the BMW Team RLL and Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner on their first TUDOR Championship win,” said Ken Payne, technical director motorsport for Michelin North America.
“The race was very fast paced and with concrete walls lining the circuit there is no margin for error,” said Payne. “We are pleased that all of our technical partners performed at a very high level and produced an exciting and successful result.”
The next stop for the TUDOR Championship is at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, on May 3.