PSCR: BMW M3s Win Sebring 12-Hour
23 March 1998SEBRING, Fla.; -- With a flawless 1-2 performance to take GT-3 honors at the Superflo 12 Hours at Sebring Professional Sports Car Racing season opener, the Prototype Technology Group and its ever-reliable BMW M3s reached yet another historic milestone: back-to-back victories at the Daytona and Sebring endurance classics in back-to-back years.
Bill Auberlen and Boris Said piloted the #10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four door to a first-place finish in class for the 15th victory in the last 17 events for an M3. Starting from the pole, they were virtually unchallenged for 295 laps of the legendary 3.75-mile Sebring circuit and brought the BMW home in 11th place overall.
Peter Cunningham, Ross Bentley and Mark Simo shared the runner-up finish in the #6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 two door, two laps off the pace of their teammates and good for 12th place overall.
"It's really quite an achievement to win at Daytona and Sebring back-to-back," said Richard Brekus, manager of product planning for BMW of North America. "To win like that two years in a row is a phenomenal way to cap it off. Finishing 1-2 at Sebring shows stamina and durability because this truly is an endurance test. We're looking forward to the rest of the season. We started off with a win in the first USRRC event (Daytona), and now a win in the first Sports Car event. Basically, we have a shot at two different championships in the same season."
"We had two cars that were unbelievable," said Auberlen, the defending series drivers' champion. "Not one problem from beginning to end. It's a situation for me where I could drive my stint, put Boris in the car, and go eat or play and then come back to a car I knew would be as good as it was when I handed it off. What can I say? Everyone performed just perfectly."
Auberlen qualified the #10 M3 first on the GT-3 grid in record time Wednesday, recording a fast lap of 2 minutes, 13.926 seconds (101.02 mph), while Cunningham put the #6 M3 second on the grid with a time of 2:14.923 (100.27 mph).
Neither car was challenged for class honors during the race in an aggressive but methodical charge to victory.
"It was a reasonably easy race," said Bentley, who with Cunningham are part-time competitors with the PTG team while Auberlen, Said, Simo and Marc Duez are slated to finish the remainder of the season behind the wheel. "We weren't going to catch Bill and Boris at the end, but we wanted to stay as close as we could so we would be in position to take advantage if they had any problems. It's just mind-boggling that these BMW M3s just keep going and going the way we put them through the paces. It takes a total team effort, that's for sure, and the team keeps running on all cylinders when it matters."
The other two BMW M3s that started the race - the #1 PTG-prepared Yokohama/Fina entry of Andy Petery, Craig Carter and Italian driving veteran Giovanna Amati, and the #54 Massari & Bell privateer entry, retired early.
Next on the schedule is the Sports Car event at Las Vegas April 24-25.
BMWs MAKE SPLASH IN RAINY SPEEDVISION CUP RACE
The Massari & Bell Racing/Diamond Rotor BMW M3 finished second in Friday's rain hampered SpeedVision Cup four-hour race at Sebring. Andy Pilgrim and Terry Borcheller piloted the #54 M3, a Grand Sports class competitor beaten to the finish line by only the #70 Speed Source Racing Mazda RX-7 Turbo. Meanwhile, Eric Tresslar and Michael Culver drove the IMTEX TAG-TMS/First Equity bMW 328is to victory in the Sports class. The race was red-flagged twice in the first hour due to heavy rains.