BMW’s beach boy Bill Auberlen

April 9, 2014

BMW’s beach boy Bill Auberlen

April 9, 2014

bill_beach_4_9_13Having driven BMW cars in more races than any driver and raced and won all over the world as a senior factory driver for BMW, you may think that a race less than 20 minutes from his Redondo Beach home would not be all that important to Bill Auberlen. You would be very wrong.

Winning the GT class at the 2013 Grand Prix of Long Beach with Maxime Martin aboard his BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE was especially satisfying for Auberlen precisely for that reason. Long Beach is his hometown race. Where else could he indulge his other interests, including motorcycles, deep sea fishing and building record setting off-shore powerboats?

Having so many fans, friends and family nearby to help celebrate made the race, and the entire victory party, especially memorable.

bill_beach_4_9_13_a“I brought the trophy with us to celebrate,” said Auberlen. “It sat right in the middle of the table and I believe everyone in the restaurant came over to take a picture.”

Few had expected the new BMW Z4 GTE, appearing in just its second race in North America, to enjoy success so soon. In fact, Auberlen’s hopes for victory seemed to evaporate early when co-driver Maxime Martin required a pit stop and tire change just 25 minutes into the 120 minute event.

Auberlen hopped aboard and began his inspired climb back through the field, skipping a fresh set of MICHELIN® tires on his final stop to emerge with the victory. BMW Team RLL backed up the first win for the new Michelin-BMW technical partnership with teammates Joey Hand and Dirk Müller finishing second.

“We followed a different tact and at the end we put both cars at the front of the field and the Z4 GTE into the history books with a 1-2 finish in only our second race,” said team leader Bobby Rahal. “We were able to run more than one stint on the MICHELIN tires and that was crucial to make our strategies work. There is nothing like winning at Long Beach. Sebring is the big one, but Long Beach is not far behind in my book.”

But the start of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season makes clear that Auberlen and his new co-driver, former DTM star Andy Priaulx, are already in championship form.

They arrive in Long Beach leading the TUDOR Championship GTLM driver standings on the strength of podium finishes in the first two races.

Now, with the longest events of the season, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring behind them, the two have already had several long discussions regarding their approach for the season’s shortest race, 100 minutes at Long Beach.

But having finally taken the top step at Long Beach, Auberlen now knows how to find his way home to the top of the podium here. And the only thing better than a home race party is one that comes after having won that day’s race.

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