BMW doubles up in GT at Sebring

March 19, 2011

BMW doubles up in GT at Sebring

March 19, 2011

BMW took home wins in both the GT class race and GT portion of the Michelin Green X Challenge. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

Despite several pitfalls and punctures along the way, BMW overcame the challenges of a 12-hour race to capture a 1-2 victory in the incredibly competitive GT class. The win marks BMW’s first at Sebring since 1999 (an overall win in its V12 LMR prototype) and in GT since 1998.

Taking the triumph in the No. 56 was the trio of Dirk Mueller, Joey Hand and Andy Priaulx. Dirk Werner, Bill Auberlen and Augusto Farfus drove the No. 55 to a runner-up finish. BMW’s No. 56 also took home the GT win in the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge, running on Cellulosic E85R ethanol.

“When I got in on Monday, I knew we had a good car, had the sweet spot,” Hand said. “They took everything they learned the last two years and put it in this race car.”

Corvette Racing led the rest of the field and the Michelin technical partner teams with a 3-4 result. While it isn’t the victory the team sought, it still represents a marked improvement for the start of the American Le Mans Series championship fight in 2011, after the team finished eighth and ninth at Sebring last year.

The No. 03 of Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia finished in its assigned numerical position ahead of the No. 04, with Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen and Richard Westbrook at the wheel.

It was a valiant effort for the No. 04 to come back after an early race accident when Gavin collided with the No. 045 Flying Lizard Porsche, sending them into a synchronized spin and inadvertently clipping the rear end of the No. 001 Extreme Speed Ferrari F458 Italia. The ESM Ferrari was out, the other two stunted in their efforts to win.

AF Corse was the first of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup-only entrants in the rundown, in P5 in its Ferrari F430 GT. The polesitting car was driven by Gianmaria Bruni, Pierre Kaffer and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Flying Lizard Motorsports’ two Porsches finished sixth and seventh, the No. 045 ahead of the No. 044. Robertson Racing took its No. 040 Ford GT-R to an eighth place result on its debut with Michelins, with the No. 59 Luxury Racing and No. 002 Extreme Speed Ferrari F458s completing the top 10.

Other class winners in the GT ranks were Krohn Racing (GTE Am) and Black Swan Racing (GTC).

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