USRRC: PTG BMW M3s Quickest at Daytona
11 January 1999The Nos. 6 and 10 BMW M3 four-doors of Winchester, Va.-based Prototype Technology Group recorded the top two GT3 class times in today's first of three days' of testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month at Daytona International Speedway. Peter Cunningham drove the No. 6 PTG BMW M3 to a fast lap of 1 minute, 59.011 seconds (an average of 107.688 mph) over Daytona's 3.56-mile oval/road course during the fourth of seven scheduled practice sessions today. Bill Auberlen drove the No. 10 PTG BMW M3 to the next-fasted GT3 lap of the day in the fifth session with a time of 1:59.135 (107.575 mph). Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., is sharing the No. 6 PTG BMW M3 with Boris Said and Mark Simo, of Carlsbad, Calif., and NASCAR veteran Ernie Irvan, of Concord, N.C. Irvan arrives for testing late Sunday. Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., is sharing the No. 10 PTG BMW M3 with Hans Stuck, of Austria, Brian Cunningham, of Danville, Ky., and Johannes Van Overbeek, of San Francisco.
Also testing here this weekend are the Nos. 45 and 54 BMW M3s of Miami-based Bell Motorsports. The No. 54 M3 of Matt Drendel, Leon Hindery, Barry Graham and James McCormick recorded its fastest time of 2:01.231 (105.716 mph) in today's second session. The No. 45 M3 of Scott Neuman, Tony Kester, James A. Kenton, Matt Drendel and Peter Baron recorded a fast time of 2:02.029 (105.024 mph) in today's fourth session.
Testing continues Sunday and Monday. The Rolex 24 at Daytona is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30. A total of 63 cars are entered for the race, as of today, including 29 in the GT3 class.
BILL AUBERLEN, No. 10 PTG BMW M3 Four-Door - "It's all going according to plan. So far, it's pretty amazing how we come here for the fourth or fifth year, now, and to see how proficient the team has gotten at running these 24-hour races. It makes it easy for you as a driver because everyone knows what they have to do, to follow that structured approach that you have to take for a 24-hour race. Our Yokohama tires are doing well, so far, and the super-reliable BMW M3 is just spectacular."
PETER CUNNINGHAM, No. 6 PTG BMW M3 Four-Door - "This is my first day of my second year with this team, and I think I'm a big step ahead of where I was last year. The team is as ready as I've ever seen one for a 24-hour race, and I've raced in 25 in my career (having won eight, including five Rolex 24s). No matter how ready you are, a 24-hour race is still a lottery, when you get down to it. All we can do is try to make fewer mistakes than everybody else, and to have some good fortune. If that happens, we'll do well."
BORIS SAID, No. 6 PTG BMW M3 Four-Door - "We're still very early in the game, trying basic setup things and changing stuff on the cars throughout every session. Testing isn't the most fun thing in the world, as tedious as it is, but you gotta do it. I really enjoy working with these guys. PD (Peter Cunningham) and I have run a number of 24-hour races together, so we've got a good foundation to build on."
JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK, No. 10 PTG BMW M3 Four-Door - "This is the first time I've ever been to Daytona. Wow, what a place! The same can be said about working with this team. It's very professional, through and through, very well put together. It's fantastic to meet all these drivers, too. Hans Stuck, he's a racing legend. Bill (Auberlen) has been a tremendous help with learning the course and how these M3s are supposed to act. They are amazing cars. Very easy to drive. It's going to be a fun year.'
TOM MILNER, PTG Team Owner -"Everything is going well, so far. All the drivers seem to be within about two seconds of each other. Even Johannes, who's never driven with us before. Under the circumstances, I'm very happy with how things are going. But we've got a long way to go, yet. We've won this race two years in a row. A number of teams have done that. Not many have won three in a row, so the odds are certainly against us. But we're much better prepared than we've ever been ... the cars, the drivers, the equipment.