April 3, 2009

Postcard from St. Petersburg: BMW's getting in the groove

BMW- RLR M3s working much better this week end, qualified 3rd and 4th in ALMS GT2.


St. Petersburg, Fla. - April 3, 2009... After setting the fastest GT2 class time in the one-hour practice session immediately before qualifying, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3s qualified in the third and fourth GT2 class starting positions for tomorrow’s Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg.
Joey Hand, co-driving the No. 90 M3 with Bill Auberlen, will start third after recording a 1:13.262 minute lap on his fourth circuit around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course. Dirk Müller’s third lap of the 20-minute session, 1:13.458 minutes, will put him next to Hand, fourth in the GT2 field. Müller will co-drive with Tommy Milner.

Earlier today, the 11-car GT2 field was greeted with a torrential downpour half way through the morning’s one-hour practice session. Both cars took to the track, but the chance to collect data during the team’s first laps at the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit was limited.

The one-hour and-fifty-five minute Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:20 p.m. tomorrow.

Joey Hand, driver No. 90 BMW M3 (third):

“The BMW M3 loves this circuit. The car is so agile that I can stick it between these walls and leave only millimeters to the mirrors. The M3 always brakes and corners really well. It drives like a go kart. My favorite part of the circuit is the Turn 11 and 12 sequence. You are totally hooked up in fourth gear, turn in fast, off the throttle, over a little curb, in the grass, fly in left, settle and back on it. I am psyched we are on the second row because it is so difficult to pass on a street course. It’s really important to start close to the front.”

Dirk Mueller, driver No. 92 BMW M3 (fourth):

“I was aiming for my fast lap on lap four, but I’m not entirely happy because I caught traffic. My laps could have been better, but for the team I am delighted. Capturing P3 and P4 is great! From my background racing Touring cars in Europe, street circuits are home to me and I really love racing on them. This track demands a high level of concentration so it is really exciting.”

Bobby Rahal, team principal

“I am pleased we are beginning to show progress. Any new effort takes time, but perhaps we are changing the rate of our learning curve. I believe the team’s knowledge about St. Pete from previous Indy Car and ALMS experience played a large factor today and will certainly help us tomorrow. It is important to start at the front of the field and we look forward to tomorrow’s race.

( a live stream may be available HERE )

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