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PSCR: BMW Holds 1-2 Starting Sports at Sebring

20 March 1998

Bill Auberlen and Peter Cunningham will start Saturday's Superflo 12 Hours at Sebring 1-2 on the GT-3 grid after today's rainy final qualifying session. Auberlen on Wednesday drove the #10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door sedan to a fast lap of 2 minutes, 13.926 seconds (101.02 mph) over the 3.75-mile Sebring road course. Cunningham drove the #6 Yokohama/Fina two door coupe to a fast lap of 2:14.923 (100.27 mph). M3s occupied the top two spots on the GT-3 starting grid last year with Auberlen leading the way in record time, and he went on to win the race. Including last month's USRRC-sanctioned Rolex 24 at Daytona, PTG BMW M3s have now earned 15 pole positions since the program began in 1995, 13 in record time. This is the fourth time they've qualified 1-2 since 1995. Boris Said is slated to share driving duties with Auberlen in the #10 car Saturday, while Cunningham will be joined by Ross Bentley and Mark Simo. PTG's third BMW M3 this weekend, the #1 four door customer car entry featuring Les Delano, Andy Petery, Craig Carter and female Italian driver Giovanna Amati, will start 11th on the GT-3 grid. In ninth position was the #54 privateer BMW M3 entry of Joe Varde, Scott Newman, Terry Borcheller and Carlos DeQuesada.

BILL AUBERLEN on final qualifying: "The rain today really made qualifying a non-issue. It's funny because back in my earlier driving days, I would always hope for rain to come and disrupt the momentum of the faster cars out there. Now that we're the team to beat, I really don't want it to rain. If it does, we're still the fastest cars out there. The three keys are our Yokohama tires - they're really the best rain tires - our ABS brakes, and our high-tech electronic windshield defogging system. We also have BMW's VANOS system (variable cam timing) that minimizes wheel spin. It's really been a good week so far. Normally, we need a few days to work with the cars, learn the track, and put it all together. This week, we came here with the set-up we left with last year, and the cars were fast right out of the box. The crew did an excellent job of having us ready to race from the first day of testing."

PETER CUNNINGHAM on final qualifying: "The rain definitely makes it more of a crap shoot for every body. But we're ready for anything. This crew is buttoned up about everything. It took me a couple of days, but I finally got comfortable in the car in time for qualifying yesterday."

PTG's #10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four door sedan is the same car that won here at Sebring last year, as well as at Daytona last month. The #6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 two door coupe is the car that won at Daytona in 1997 wearing the #10. Meanwhile, the silver #1 customer car BMW M3 four door sedan was the #7 team car at Daytona last month. PTG has since granted Wayne Taylor's request to race his World Sports Car as #7.

Since their 18-lap victory in the GT-3 class at Daytona last month, rules makers have added some 55 pounds to the BMW M3s, bringing their total weight to 2,585 pounds. In addition, they've required the M3s to run on rear tires that are 2 inches narrower, and they've lowered their maximum rpm from 8,500 to 8,250.