Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 7th, 2014 . . . BMW Team RLL arrives at the Sports Car Showcase At Long Beach leading both the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship GTLM Team and Driver standings after podium finishes at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. A second place finish at Daytona was followed by a third at Sebring for the No. 55 BMW Z4 to lead the team standings. Drivers Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx share the lead in driver points.
Less than two driving stints long, the 100-minute Long Beach race would seem to pale in comparison to the classic endurance contests at Daytona and Sebring, but it is exactly the intensity of the race that makes it so popular with fans and one in which BMW Team RLL has met with great success in past seasons. In four seasons of competition at Long Beach with the BMW M3 GT, the team finished on the podium every year – including a win in 2011. Last year, in only the second race for the new BMW Z4 GTE, the team posted a 1-2 finish as Bill Auberlen (co-driving with Maxime Martin) took his first victory at his home race. The win was also the first for the new BMW-Michelin partnership.
“I don’t know if anybody expected us to win that soon, but it was obviously a great victory for us and for BMW, and to finish 1-2 especially. That gives us a lot of enthusiasm for the upcoming race. There is every reason that we should be competitive there again and can hopefully repeat,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal.
“This year the race will feature only Prototype and GT Le Mans cars so there will be fewer cars, and especially since there are no GTD cars, traffic will obviously not play as much of a role as it has so far this season. For us frankly it’s always been a little bit of a struggle to get around the GTD cars which are as fast as we are on the straights so not having to navigate that is going to help us. All-in-all it should make for a really great GT Le Mans race.”
Bill Auberlen, driver, No. 55 Z4 GTLM – “What a great start to a great year. We are leading the championship and we are heading to a race I won last year in my own backyard. We have a great car in the BMW Z4, a great team with RLL and great momentum. Mix in a bit of luck and it should be another great Long Beach event.”
Andy Priaulx, driver, No. 55 Z4 GTLM – I’m really looking forward to Long Beach. The track looks fantastic and it will be a real challenge. I will need to work really hard on my pre race preparations to make sure I’m as prepared as possible. I love street tracks, I’ve heard a lot of great things about Long Beach and look forward to a great race.”
John Edwards, driver, No. 56 Z4 GTLM – ‘I first raced at Long Beach seven years ago and I'm excited to finally be going back. Street courses are always exciting and Long Beach is one of the best. Sebring was a tough race for us in the 56 car, but we're going back to the site of the Z4's 1-2 finish and I'm confident that we have an opportunity to repeat success. Dirk and I are hungry for our first podium of 2014 so we'll be using every inch of the track. We need to come away with a good result and move back up in the points after some bad luck in Sebring.”
Dirk Müller, driver, No. 56 Z4 GTLM – “I really enjoy driving at Long Beach and after all our tough luck so far this year with our 56 car I think it’s time to bring home a great result. We had a fantastic 1-2 finish there last year. The 36-hours of Daytona and Sebring are over and it’s now full concentration on this short race for John and I.”
Part of the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach takes the green flag at 6:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 12th. Fox Sports 1 will carry live coverage of the race beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.imsa.com.