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BMW Team RLL will entertain very special guests and race with a commemorative livery on both BMW Z4 GTLM machines at the 63rd Annual 12 Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 21st. The race marks the 40th anniversary of BMW’s first major sports car race victory in the US. Introduced last Friday evening by Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO, BMW of North America, at his BMW Legends dinner during the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, BMW Team RLL will run a special livery on its two BMW Z4 GTLM race cars to honor the iconic BMW 3.0 CSL, which introduced BMW Motorsport GmbH to the US four decades ago.
Joining BMW Team RLL at Sebring will be members of the 1975 BMW Motorsport team, including Jochen Neerpasch, the first BMW Motorsport Director. Brian Redman and Hans Stuck will attend, as two of the original driver lineup that also included Ronnie Petersen and Sam Posey.
Mr. Stuck was named Grand Marshall of the 2015 race, and will drive an honorary lap in a 3.0 CSL before the green flag flies.
Team Situation: Second Race of the 2015 Season.
In January, BMW Team RLL finished second (No. 25) and fourth (No. 24) at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, matching the team’s result in 2014. Last year at Sebring, the team reached the podium with a third-place finish by the No. 55 Z4 GTLM. A February 23rd Balance of Performance adjustment by IMSA has the Z4 losing 10 kilograms of weight and gaining 15mm of height to the gurney lip on the rear spoiler for the Sebring start. On March 11-12, the team completed a test at Sebring in preparation for this year's contest.
As with Daytona, BMW Motorsport DTM driver Augusto Farfus will co-drive the No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM with season-long drivers Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner. The trio, with auxiliary help from fellow DTM driver Bruno Spengler, finished a close second place at the Rolex 24.
In the No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM, BMW Motorsport driver Jens Klingmann will join season regulars John Edwards and Lucas Luhr at Sebring. The No. 24 car finished fourth at Daytona with additional co-driver Graham Rahal. Edwards and Luhr will drive the car for the season. With the addition of Luhr, BMW Team RLL retains two of the top-three drivers on the all-time North American sports car racing victories list. Luhr stands third with 51 victories, and Bill Auberlen second with 53 wins. Both are chasing Scott Pruett, with 59 wins.
In their words.
“We have always been able to get our BMWs to work well over the bumps, which is very important at Sebring; particularly the last turn, Turn 17, as well as Turn 1, where it is quite rough," said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “Fine-tuning the dampers and other areas really made a difference in our performance over the years. Based on that and the fact Sebring doesn’t have any really big, long straights other than the back straight, I think we will be a bit more competitive there. We won twice with the M3 in the past five years and we had a reasonable race last year. Certainly we hope for the best, with it being the 40th anniversary of the first win with the CSL. I was at that race and in those days you dreamt about driving one of those cars. It was a great win and is obviously a proud moment for BMW Motorsport and BMW. We anticipate there will be a lot of cheering and a lot of people hoping to see another great result."
Bill Auberlen, driver, No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM: "After an great run at Daytona and a crazy close finish - only .46 seconds from victory - we've set our sights on victory at Sebring. It's time to make history again."
Augusto Farfus, driver, No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM:‘’I’ve raced at Sebring in 2010 with the M3 GT2. It has been a great experience. Sebring is very technical due to track characteristics. BMW Team RLL did an awesome job in Daytona and we missed victory by less than a second. Sebring should fit our car much better and it would be great to get a victory as a 40th anniversary present!"
Dirk Werner, driver, No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM: "Sebring is always a big challenge and a great event. I like to drive this track and I am confident we will have a good race. I know the whole team is highly motivated. Especially knowing that a BMW won the race 40 years ago. We will push to make it happen again!"
John Edwards, driver, No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM: "It’s been a long break since Daytona, so I’m anxious to get back in the Z4. Sebring is going to be a special weekend with the 40th anniversary celebrations so we’ll have some added pressure to repeat a BMW win 40 years later! Although I only joined BMW Team RLL only two years ago, my first race with BMW was also at Sebring, so the 12 hour has been a little bit of a personal celebration for me. Sebring is always one of the coolest races we go to. That’s partially due to the track itself, but mostly because the fans don’t get more entertaining than at Sebring!"
Jens Klingmann, driver, No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM: "Sebring is one of race tracks I've always dreamt of racing on! It's a very challenging and bumpy track, but the layout fits better to our BMW Z4 GTLM compared to Daytona. I want to support the team once again as good as I can and hopefully make a big step towards the podium."
Lucas Luhr, driver, No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM: "I'm looking forward to my first Sebring with BMW and it is an honor to race on such a special anniversary. I like Sebring because with all its bumps it is very challenging and hard for the car and the driver. The circuit suits our Z4 better than Daytona and I hope that we can bring our 2 cars to the podium there to celebrate in style."
The 63rd 12 Hours of Sebring takes the green flag at 10:40 a.m. Saturday, March 21 with the first two hours of coverage broadcast on FOX Sports One beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET. The remaining 10 hours will be broadcast on FOX Sports Two and IMSA platforms. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.