Setbacks Plague PTG BMW M3s after Eight Hours

30 January 1999

PROTOTYPE TECHNOLOGY GROUP BMW M3 TEAM - SATURDAY, JANUARY 30, 1999 Rolex 24 at Daytona - Daytona International Speedway - Daytona Beach, Fla.

AFTER EIGHT HOURS

BOTH PTG BMW M3s SET BACK BY MAJOR MECHANICAL PROBLEMS

The Nos. 6 and 10 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 four-doors stood in 14th and 24th place, respectively, in the GT3 class after major problems plagued their opening hours of competition in the 37th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Boris Said and Peter Cunningham have handled the bulk of the driving during the opening eight hours in the No. 6 PTG BMW M3, which lost 25 laps to the class-leading No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche while stopping in the pits twice to replace a gearbox and a differential during the fifth and sixth hours. Mark Simo was just a half-hour into his first stint of the race when the transmission problems began and forced him into the pits. Ernie Irvan and Dieter Quester have yet to get into the car, which ended the eighth hour 24 laps out of the GT3 lead.

Brian Cunningham rejoined the race in the No. 10 PTG BMW M3 almost five hours after it came into the garage with engine problems. The cylinder head was replaced after race starter Bill Auberlen brought the car in on Lap 28, at approximate 2:10 p.m.. It was 127 laps behind the No. 23 Porsche when it rejoined the race just before 7 p.m. Brian Cunningham, and then Johannes Van Overbeek who replaced him late in the seventh hour, made up two laps on the leader to stand 125 laps behind after eight hours.

The No. 17 T.C. Kline Racing BMW M3 was in fourth place in GT3 after eight hours, four laps out of the class lead. The Nos. 54 (14 laps down) and 45 (35 laps down) Bell Motorsports BMW M3s were in 12th and 18th place, respectively, after eight hours.

SCOTT DONIGER, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America, Inc. - "We didn't think the millenium bug was for real, but it bit us today. It's been a real struggle for the first quarter of the race. But no one should count us out. We got through major mechanical problems to put both cars back out on the track. We're way behind, but you never know what can happen in a race like this."

BORIS SAID, No. 6 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 Four-Door - "I was being really kind to the car, but I was taking a few more chances out there in traffic. I was having a blast out there!"

BRIAN CUNNINGHAM, No. 10 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 Four-Door - "Wow, it was hot out there. I'm not used to these closed-cockpit cars. It's like sitting in an Easy Bake Oven. It's nice to finally get into the car in race conditions. It's tough to maintain your rhythm with all the traffic. You're never quite sure who's behind you. It's disappointing to be out of the hunt right now, but the one good thing is that when you're that far back, you have a lot of people to pass, and that feels good. The five hours of engine work got us way out of sync. I was in line to drive at dawn, which my father (Briggs Cunningham, Jr.) and grandfather (Briggs Cunningham) would always tell me was the neatest time to drive. The smell of bacon and coffee from the infield campers fills the air. Now, when I next drive at 2 a.m., it'll probably smell like stale beer."

JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK, No. 10 Yokohama/Flextronics Int'l/Level One BMW M3 Four-Door - "I'm just very thankful to be driving for a team of this caliber. The car was very comfortable. I wasn't going fast or slow. Just trying not to make a mistake. We unlapped ourselves a couple of times, so that feels like an accomplishment."

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