Auberlen stars in Long Beach qualifying

April 15, 2016

Auberlen stars in Long Beach qualifying

April 15, 2016


Bill Auberlen has continued his amazing record on the streets of Long Beach but scoring pole today in the GTLM class for the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.

Auberlen was on pole and won the race last year with Dirk Werner and also tasted victory here at Long Beach in 2014.

Corvette set the pace in the early stages of qualifying today, before both Porsches leapt to the top of the timesheet. Auberlen then pounced on his fifth lap to stop the clocks at at 1:17.272.

Porsche’s Earl Bamber took a final shot to steal the top position and came close – finishing only .003 of a second behind the BMW driver.

longbeach_gallery_friday_39“We’ve never had the M6 GTLM on a short circuit yet. We had it at Daytona so we could get our heads around it. We took it to Sebring and started to get it going and now we have the pole there,” Auberlen said.

“The last time we were here it was the Z4 and you just thread through the walls. Now I have to drive a car that is three feet longer. The team RLL guys made about 30 subtle changes to the car between first practice and second practice.

“We did a qualifying simulation in the 25 minute session and I had a totally different car. I ruined the first four laps, and I got to the fifth one, and I just had to make it.

“The Michelin tires were coming up every lap, and if you look the Porsches were only three thousandths of a second behind us.”

The 47-year-old Rendondo Beach-resident is thrilled to be able to win the pole and then go to his house and sleep in his own bed before his home-town race.

“Now the 100th anniversary for BMW to have the pole here, pole at Sebring. The best part of the day is leaving my M6 here and getting in my M6 road car, and being home in 15 minutes, sleeping in my own bed,” Auberlen said.

“Until you come to a race that is at your home track, you don’t realize how many friends you have until the week before the race. Everyone is calling in, and you think – oh I really do have friends. I never try harder or less hard, I give is as much every single time.”

Porsche’s Patrick Pilet was third fastest followed by the two Corvettes – Daytona and Sebring winner Oliver Gavin leading 2014 Long Beach winner, Jan Magnussen.

longbeach_gallery_friday_4“I’ve no idea where I lost those fractions of seconds,” Porsche’s Bamber said.

“Possibly in the hairpin, but quite honestly you can lose three-thousandths almost anywhere on this circuit. Today’s effort from the whole team was tremendous.

“Long Beach was not our strongest track in recent years. The fact that we’ve done so well in qualifying here now has given us a lot of confidence. We just have to repeat this performance in the race tomorrow then anything is possible.”

Missing from qualifying today was the No.67 Ford GT. Richard Westbrook was at the wheel in the morning session when a leaking fuel fitting caused a fire. The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing squad are hopeful of getting the car back on track for tomorrow’s race.

Teams will face the green flag tomorrow at Long Beach at 4:05pm with the race shown live on Fox Sports 2.


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