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woodym3
03-17-2009, 02:20 PM
The American Le Mans Series kicks off its 2009 season with Saturday's Sebring 12-Hour race. Of primary interest to us are the two BMW M3s being entered by Rahal-Letterman Racing in the GT2 Class. It has been a couple of years since we saw the PTG M3s in ALMS competition. The new M3 race cars were developed by the factory in Germany and shipped to Ohio for further testing and development by RLR. These cars are substantially different than your E92 production M3. For instance, the front suspension is a double wishbone design rather than the McPherson struts found in production BMWs for the last 45 years. Closed-top ALMS cars are required to run air conditioning this year and the M3s have panels that close off the back seat area so the AC has less interior volume to cool. As reported earlier, drivers for the two white M3s are Californians Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand in the #90, and Leesburg's Tommy Milner with German Dirk Mueller (currently residing in Monaco) in #92.

Only 28 cars are entered in the 12-Hour, down substantially from Sebring's heyday when fields of 60 or 70 cars started the race. Besides the two BMWs, the GT2 class will have seven other manufacturers represented: There are 5 Porsche GT3 RSRs, 3 Ferrari 430GTs, 1 Aston-Martin, 1 Doran Ford GT, 1 Riley Corvette, 1 Viper, and one Panoz Esperante GTLM. The Ford V8-powered Panoz is entered by Tom Milner's Winchester-based PTG team. I consider this the most interesting class, but if the TV coverage follows the usual form, we will mostly see the LMP1 (prototype) class battle.

In the LMP1 class, Honda has developed two Acura ARX-02a cars to do battle with the Audi R15 diesels. Unfortunately Audi will be running a very limited ALMS schedule after Sebring. There are two AER-powered Lola B06/10s and two Peugeot 908 diesels rounding out the LMP1 class.

LMP2 had been most interesting the last few years, but Porsche has retired their prototypes and Honda only has 1 Acura ARX-01B returning. The GT1 class will see the two familiar Corvette CR6s battling each other for class honors, but will downgrade the cars for GT2 competition later this season and the GT1 class will probably disappear.

Live coverage of the Sebring 12-Hour will be carried on SpeedTV beginning at 10:00am Saturday. There is a two-hour break from noon to 2pm, the continued coverage from 2:00 until 11pm. Also there is a ALMS preview show on Speed at 7pm Thursday (repeated at 11pm). Future ALMS races will be on Speed, ABC and NBC.

After Sebring, the next ALMS race will be in St. Petersburg, Florida on April 4. The closest two ALMS races to the DC area are July 18 at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut and August 8 at Mid-Ohio. The premier Petit Le Mans 8-hour race at Road Atlanta will be Sept 26, just a couple of days preceeding the BMWCCA Oktobefest at Road Atlanta.

woodym3
03-17-2009, 04:26 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:



Matt Russell

BMW of North America Motorsports Communications

201-307-3755 (office) / 201-248-0169 (cell)

matthew.russell@<hidden>



Bill Cobb

BMW of North America Motorsports Press Officer

215-295-3115 (office) / 215 431-7223 (cell)

billcobbcommunications@<hidden>



Eric Mauk

Rahal Letterman Racing, Director of Communications

614-529-7000 (x104) (office) / 614-264-1254 (cell)

emauk@<hidden>



BMW RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TEAM ON TRACK FOR THE TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING

Pre-race testing runs without a hitch



Sebring, Fla. – March 17, 2009… BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team completed the third of three pre-race testing sessions this afternoon in preparation for this Saturday’s 57th annual 12 Hours of Sebring. Today’s one-and-one-half-hour session followed two yesterday with the two BMW M3s recording times in the upper half of the 13-car GT2 class field.

A total of 109 laps were completed over the two days with BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team personnel working together with BMW Motorsport engineers to continue chassis and tire development. On Monday, the team took full advantage of the first time both M3s tested together and tested Dunlop tires for future races.

Pleased with the progress made, the team will shift its focus to specific preparation for the 12-hour race with the start of official practice tomorrow.


Driver quotes:



Bill Auberlen, No. 90 M3

“I think we are making a very good race car. Between the Dunlop tire engineers and all the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team crew, we are making a very consistent racing car that is awesome to drive.”

Joey Hand, No. 90 M3

“So far everything has gone well. We can do one setup on one car and a different setup on the other car and see which one works better. Compared to the winter test and the test a few weeks ago, we are progressing much faster. We have a lot of things to run through, but we are cutting through them quickly. You can tell that these guys are really good. The team has a strong crew with the engineers on top of everything.”

Tommy Milner, No. 92 M3:

“Today was very good. It was my first time on new tires so that added some fun to the day. Having two cars has helped a lot. Taking some of the settings from the No. 90 car has helped us so we are definitely seeing the benefits of having two cars.”

Dirk Müller, No. 92 M3

“Yesterday was really a good, productive day. It is awesome to have two cars. We are learning together and it helps the progress. I have a big smile on my face when I am driving the M3. I know we still have work to do on the car, but we are making good steps.”

Official practice begins tomorrow with qualifying scheduled for 2:45 p.m. Thursday. The 57th annual 12 Hours of Sebring starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.



About Rahal Letterman Racing:

Rahal Letterman Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, has been competing for more than a decade compiling 20 victories, 30 poles and one series championship (Bobby Rahal in 1992 in CART) and an Indianapolis 500 championship (Buddy Rice in 2004). In 2008 Rahal Letterman Racing again won Rookie-of-the-Year honors at the Indianapolis 500 and partnered with Andersen Racing to run two entries in the Indy Pro Series. In 2009 the team has joined BMW North America to campaign the new BMW M3 as BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team in the American Le Mans Series and will as serve as the organizers of the Formula BMW Americas championship.

tenfifteen
03-18-2009, 07:23 AM
Official testing begins today. Unofficial fast laps through yesterday recorded by one of the Peugeot 908s (P1), a Dyson Mazda/Lola (P2), Jan Mags-driven C6.R (GT1) and AE/Pecom F430GT (GT2 and notably driven by factory Ferrari driver Gianmaria Bruni, who won it last year driving for Risi).

http://www.americanlemans.com/index_news.php?n=12533