PSCR: BMW GT2 AND GT3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
17 April 1998LAS VEGAS: It's only the second Professional Sports Car Racing event of the year, but the defending GT3 driver's and team champions and two-time-defending GT3 manufacturer's champions are already paving the way for a full-time move up in class to GT2 in 1999.
The BMW M3 team from Winchester, Va.-based Prototype Technology Group will field entries in both GT3 and GT2 at next weekend's Toshiba Copiers & Fax Nevada Grand Prix at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, round two of the Sports Car GT Series Presented by Virgin Interactive.
"It's the next logical step in the evolution of our M3 road racing program," says Scott Doniger, M Brand Manager at BMW of North America. "We've had great success in GT3 the last season and a half. But, as we all know, you can't stay in one place for too long, or before you know it, the competition will be all over you. So we're prepared to start experimenting now to see how ready we are for a move up to GT2 in 1999."
After winning this year's Daytona 24-Hour event sanctioned by the revived United States Road Racing Championship, then the Sebring 12-Hour race sanctioned by Sports Car, BMW and PTG are in position to win championships in two different series in the same season.
"Our goal, first and foremost, is to successfully defend our GT3 championships in Sports Car," said PTG team owner Tom Milner. "Next, we're keeping an eye on the USRRC schedule race by race and will participate in those events if it makes sense to build on the points lead we established at Daytona this year."
"Looking farther down the road," Doniger adds, "it's time to begin testing and development for our move to GT2, which is no small feat considering the current M3s have evolved into models of durability and dependability in GT3. We'll have to develop considerably lighter components in key areas, and we need to be able to do that without compromising the kind of durability and dependability that have become hallmarks in BMW's championship efforts."
PTG has entered its No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe in GT2 for the Las Vegas event. Driver Boris Said, of Carlsbad, Calif., who teamed with reigning GT3 championship Bill Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., for victories at Daytona and Sebring, is slated to start that car and then turn it over to Auberlen for the remainder of the 3-hour, 45-minute race. Auberlen, meanwhile, is expected to start in the No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door in GT3, then hand the car over to teammate Marc Duez, of Monte Carlo. Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., Ross Bentley, of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, and Mark Simo of Carlsbad, Calif., will share the other GT3 entry, the No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door.
"This is going to be a very tough thing, practicing and qualifying two different kinds of cars and keeping an eye on two different races," says Auberlen, who this year earned the distinction of being named a BMW factory driver with the parent company in Germany. As such, he'll also be campaigning a BMW-powered Riley & Scott World Sports Car in the International Sports Racing Series (ISRS) this year.
"In the No. 10 car, the goal will be to get off to a good start and then hand it off to Marc Duez, who is one of the best road racers in the world," Auberlen continues. "In the No. 6 car, it'll be a grit-your-teeth, run-as-fast-as-you-can-for-as-long-as-you-can type of race. If you look at the numbers, the other GT2 cars have the edge in engine size, tire size, etc. But we've got the team and the determination to win. That, hopefully, will make up for whatever advantages they have on paper."
The Las Vegas GT race begins at 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 26, and will air live on Speedvision.