Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Aug. 23, 2014 . . . Bill Auberlen equaled his season’s-best qualifying effort today at Virginia International Raceway, driving the No. 55 BMW Team RLL Z4 to the outside front row starting position for tomorrow’s 2.75-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Oak Tree Grand Prix. His lap of 1:44.053 minutes around the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIR circuit was only .256 seconds behind the pole-sitting Ferrari. The entire class was separated by only 1.015 seconds. Auberlen and co-driver Andy Priaulx currently stand fourth in GTLM driver points.
Dirk Müller qualified the No. 56 BMW Z4 in the fourth position, only .023 seconds behind Auberlen, with a time of 1:44.076 minutes. Müller and co-driver John Edwards, pole winner at the last round in Road America, currently stand fifth in GTLM driver points.
“This is a great qualifying result,” said Jay O’Connell, RLL VP Technology. “We couldn’t quite get the pole like last year, but getting second and fourth is great. If you looked at the timesheet, a tenth of a second was going to cost us five places, so it is a tight field. Obviously Ferrari is out front after doing a really good job, but I am proud of Bill and Dirk for their drives today. Without the prototypes tomorrow, we are starting on the front row and there is no one ahead of us, so we can have a nice clean start, a really good race, and I am looking forward to a fun time tomorrow.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (2nd) – “We have done a lot of work here. We have tried different tires, different set-ups, all kinds of stuff – and we’ve earned P2 in a field separated by a mere second. This has all the ingredients for a great race. BMW is right at the front. To actually see daylight ahead of us from the front row will make it that much better racing into turn one tomorrow.”
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (4th) – “I am really happy as I wasn’t expecting I could do that time. Twenty-three thousandths of a second to P2 and I am P4 is absolutely fantastic. I love racing in this GTLM class. Our focus was totally on the race and not a single second on qualifying. As a racer sometimes that is tough because you want to be on pole all the time, but our heads are on the race and our car is going to be a rocket.”
The 2.75-hour Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR will take the green flag at 4:05 p.m. ET Sunday, August 24th. The race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 with coverage beginning at 4:00 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.
BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 and X4 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 339 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 120 MINI passenger car dealers, and 35 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
BMW’s partner, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, has been competing for over two decades, compiling 30 victories, 42 poles and three series championships (1992, 2010, 2011) as well as claiming an Indianapolis 500 victory (Buddy Rice in 2004). In 2009 the team joined BMW of North America to campaign the new BMW M3 in the American Le Mans Series. In 2010 the team won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category. In 2011 the team swept all three GT titles – Manufacturer, Team and Driver.