Published on April 19th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
BMW Team RLL claims victory at Long Beach after a close fight
Bill Auberlen (US) and Dirk Werner (DE), driving the number 25 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTLM, claimed a dramatic class victory in the third round of the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) at Long Beach (US). The duo completed 76 laps of the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit during the 100 minute race, finishing 2.9 seconds in front of the number 62 Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella (IT) and Pierre Kaffer (DE).
The victory was the first for BMW Team RLL since a win at Lime Rock Park (US) in 2013 and the 11th since the programme’s inception in 2009. The win also moves Auberlen’s tally of all-time North American sports car victories to 54, second only to Scott Pruett (US, 59).
Auberlen started the race from the pole, but both he and John Edwards (US), in the number 24 car on the outside of the front row, were passed by the Ferrari on the first lap. Both BMWs held station for the opening stint with Auberlen the first in the class to pit on lap 31. A poorly venting fuel tank and slow fuel fill delayed Werner’s departure from the pits after he exchanged with Auberlen. He dropped to fifth place as Lucas Luhr (DE), entering the number 24 car on the next lap, benefited from usual quick team service and took over the second position.
With one hour complete, Werner had made up all the time lost in the pits and had passed for fourth. On lap 45 he moved into third, only 0.6 seconds from the 24 car, still in second place. Werner passed his teammate and set his sights on the Ferrari some eight seconds ahead. On lap 63 the BMW works driver set a new race record (1:18.009 minutes) and two laps later drove past the Ferrari for the lead and the victory.
Ultimately, Edwards and Luhr finished a disappointing fifth after a suspected brake issue slowed Luhr in the closing stages of the race. This goes to show that anything can happen during a race, and even the best planning in the world can’t negate a bit of bad luck. The win moves BMW into second place in the GTLM Manufacturers’ points standings, five points behind Chevrolet. Auberlen and Werner move to second in Drivers’ points. Edwards and Luhr stand fourth.