USRRC: Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 Team Report
29 January 1999The two-time defending GT3-class champions put their pair of PTG BMW M3s through the paces today as practice and qualifying opened for this weekend's 37th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona. Bill Auberlen put the No. 10 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 four-door fourth on the provisional GT3 grid with a qualifying time of 1 minute, 57.769 seconds (an average of 108.82 mph) over the 3.56-mile oval/road course at historic Daytona International Speedway. Auberlen, who set the GT3 track record (1:55.945, 110.535 mph) in putting the No. 10 BMW M3 on the pole last year, is co-driving the Hans Stuck, Brian Cunningham and Johannes Van Overbeek. Boris Said, meanwhile, battled overheating problems in the No. 6 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 four-door and sits ninth on the provisional qualifying grid. Said, who recorded a fast lap of 1:59.115 (107.59 mph), is co-driving with NASCAR Winston Cup regular Ernie Irvan, Mark Simo and Peter Cunningham.
A trio of Porsches occupies the top three spots on the provisional GT3 grid, led by the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911. Practice and final qualifying are scheduled for Friday, with the twice-around-the-clock endurance race set to start at 1 p.m. EST Saturday. A total of 83 cars are entered, including 35 in GT3, the largest class in the field.
BILL AUBERLEN, No. 10 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 Four-Door - "We're just developing for the race. It's hard for me because I always want to go for the pole. But we've got a bigger picture to worry about. It's very difficult to not be working toward a qualifying setup. It sometimes takes more restraint than I have. But, come Sunday afternoon, it'll all be worthwhile."
BORIS SAID, No. 6 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 Four-Door - "We overheated our car at the end of the practice session right before qualifying began, and we never were able to recover. It was a little sluggish in qualifying, based on how fast we were able to go in testing (2 weeks ago). We're now putting the race motors in the cars, so hopefully everything will be working well tomorrow."
ERNIE IRVAN, No. 6 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 Four-Door - "I'm excited to be here. This is the first time I've ever been a part of the Daytona 24-hour as a driver, a spectator, anything. It's great experience. I got a little bit of time in the car, but with four or five drivers trying to share time during a 45-minute practice session, you don't end up with a whole lot of laps. But, fortunately, I got a lot of time in the M3 during testing earlier this month. I'm feeling more and more confident every lap."
SCOTT DONIGER, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America, Inc. -"We're still trying to settle the one issue we didn't have time to settle during the early test ... tires and suspension setups. We decided to call it an early day and put in our race motors this afternoon, and come back strong on Friday."
TOM MILNER, PTG Team Owner -"We've got a brand new tire compound from Yokohama, so we're trying to sort them out. Everything is going fine. Obviously, we're going for race (lap) times, not qualifying times."
HOW DO YOU SAY "THAT DOG WON'T HUNT" IN GERMAN? Talk about a clash of two racing cultures, picture PTG drivers Hans Stuck and Ernie Irvan engaged in a discussion about oversteer vs. understeer? ESPN2's Marty Reid was taping a feature segment today for this weekend's race broadcast, flanked by Stuck and Irvan. Asked by Reid to describe oversteer and understeer, Stuck launched into a lengthy technical monologue. When asked by Reid to do the same, Irvan shrugged and said, "All I know is 'loose' and 'tight.' And loose is when the back of the car wants to beat the front of the car across the finish line. When we have a loose car, we say 'That dog won't hunt.' How do you say that in German?" Reid finished the interview segment by asking the German road-racing veteran Stuck to unleash one of his patented yodels. He then challenged Irvan to do the same. Nothing doing for Irvan, who dashed off, saying "I'm going to the motorcoach!"