This weekend GT class leading BMW Team RLL travels to the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix (US) for the second street race of the 2011 American Le Mans Series season. The long established race on the streets of Long Beach (US) has been part of the series for years, but the newly constructed temporary circuit winding through the streets of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area will be brand new to teams, drivers and fans alike.
The no. 56 BMW M3 GT of Dirk Müller (DE) and Joey Hand (US) won this April’s Long Beach race from the pole – the victory part of a three race win streak to start off the nine-race season. With two fourth place finishes and a return to the podium at the most recent race at Road America (US), the duo continues to lead the GT drivers’ standings by a margin of 22 points.
Team-mates Dirk Werner (DE) and Bill Auberlen (US) are third in the GT drivers’ standings – only six points from second – after a run of three consecutive podium finishes in the no. 55 BMW M3 GT.
With two-thirds of the season now complete, BMW Team RLL stands at the top of every GT championship category and looks to add the drivers’ title to the Manufacturer and Team championships won in 2010.
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal):“We have three races left in the season and there are some very good cars and great drivers that are trying to knock BMW Team RLL out of the top spot in the standings. We have to be ready to deal with the best efforts that these teams have to offer, because time is running short. Baltimore is the only wild card left on the schedule, and we will all be starting from scratch on this new road-course layout. We are expecting a good turnout and great support from the fans in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area and we hope to give all the BMW fans a reason to cheer on Saturday.”
Bill Auberlen (Car number 55): “We have all looked at the track sketches for the new circuit and prepared as best we can, but at the end of the day it’s a mystery for all of us. Our advantage will be BMW Team RLL’s ability to analyse the first data collected and make the right changes fast. Dirk and I are gaining in points every race so we’ll keep our heads down and try to gain more.”
Dirk Werner (Car number 55): “I hope that the upward trend we had at the last races – especially with our car – will continue. After three consecutive podiums we are heading in a good direction in the championship. We are close to the second place in the overall classification, and we aim to get this second position with a good result at Baltimore. The track itself is new for everyone, so it will be crucial who can adapt quickest to the new conditions. We have already raced on a street course this year, at Long Beach. There, our car was fast, and that makes me confident that this will be the case at Baltimore as well.”
Joey Hand (Car number 56): “This new race in Baltimore comes at a great time for us. We’re leading the championship, we’re on top of our game and ready for a new challenge. I have always been an outspoken lover of a street race. The limits are tighter. The margins are inches, not feet. I’m looking forward to the same success we had at Long Beach. In Baltimore everything will be new except how BMW Team RLL prepares. Top to bottom this is the talent a driver wants behind him. From the gear stacks to set ups they get it right faster. This race will be about who is the quickest – the quickest. We will be those guys.”
Dirk Müller (Car number 56): “I am still smiling about the great weekend BMW Team RLL had at Road America. At this stage of the season we do not necessarily need to win every race, but we need to try and get good points. And what happened in that four hour race – that was motor racing at its best. I am glad to be a part of it. Now I am really looking forward to Baltimore, as I like the challenge of new tracks and am a big fan of street racing. Baltimore combines both. There are not many possibilities to prepare for this race, but the team gave us drawings of the track which I studied intensely. At first sight, the track looks quite easy, but there can be tricky blind corners. As this circuit does not exist anywhere, you cannot drive it in a simulator. I am really optimistic about this weekend. Joey, me and the whole team are absolutely on our toes. We have one target – to extend our lead in the championship.”