Long Beach, CA continue to be the favorite venue for the BMW Team RLL. In only its second race with the new Z4 GTE cars, the team finished 1-2 in the American Le Mans Series race.
The team had a strong strategy for the two-hour race around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit, continuing its success that reaches back five consecutive years, with BMW Team RLL finishing with at least one car on the Long Beach podium, including a win from the pole in 2011.
The race win put BMW at the top of the GT Class Manufacturer points in a tie with Chevrolet.
Bill Auberlen and Maxime Martin, driving the Black # 55 Z4 GTE won the race, finishing 6.578sec ahead of # 56 Z4 GTE of Joey Hand and Dirk Müller.
Martin started in# 55 car from fourth spot but a spin on lap two dropped him to the rear of the field. However, three long caution periods gave the crew the chance to catch up.
Pitting Martin after 25min on the first caution, Auberlen got behind the wheel with a full tank of fuel and new Michelins. During the second caution period, Auberlen pitted twice more for fuel only. When the race went green with 44min run, the veteran driver could run for the remainder of the race.
The third caution, during which the rest of field pitted, allowed for fuel conservation, and took Auberlen to second position as the race went green just past the first hour. On lap 66, with 15min remaining, Auberlen took the lead and drove to his first win at the Long Beach.
The # 56 Z4 GTE had an equally exciting race. Hand started from seventh position and pitted during the third caution period, handing the car to Müller. Driving hard for the second hour, Müller took second place with two laps remaining, giving BMW Team RLL its first 1-2 finish since the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2011.
"This is a really good one," said Bobby Rahal. "The # 55 car called excellent strategy. We followed a different tactic and 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. We were able to run more than one stint on the Michelins 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."
Round Three of the 2013 American Le Mans Series will be held at Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, CA, on May 11 for the six-hour American Le Mans race.