DTM Test, Eurospeedway Lausitz

Productive test at the Lausitzring: Heikki Kovalainen in action for BMW

Lausitzring (DE), 28th August 2014. No sooner is one race over than preparations begin for the next one: just one week after Macro Wittmann (DE) triumphed at the iconic Nürburgring (DE), BMW Motorsport has spent four days testing in preparation for the final phase of the DTM season. From Monday to Thursday, the BMW drivers completed over 3,000 kilometres at the Lausitzring (DE), which will host the eighth round of the touring car series on 14th September.

Making his debut at the wheel of the BMW M4 DTM during the tests at the “EuroSpeedway Lausitz” was ex-Formula One driver Heikki Kovalainen (FI). The 32-year-old racing driver from Suomussalmi, Finland, contested 111 races at the pinnacle of single-seater racing between 2007 and 2013. When Kovalainen won his first Grand Prix in 2008 at the Hungaroring (HU), which also hosted the DTM in June of this year, he was joined on the podium by current BMW DTM driver Timo Glock (DE), who finished runner-up.

Kovalainen took his opportunity at the Lausitzring to get a picture of the BMW M4 DTM. For BMW Motorsport, the test programme also included numerous long runs on prime and option tyres. The engineers also tested several set-up variants, which it has otherwise not been possible to run during the limited practice time on DTM race weekends. The test took place on the same circuit as will host the eighth race of this year’s DTM season. Because of this, BMW Motorsport was able to use the four days in Lausitz to prepare meticulously for the upcoming race.

Heikki Kovalainen:
“First of all I am grateful that BMW Motorsport offered me the opportunity to drive its car. I was really looking forward to this interesting experience. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect as I have never driven a car like this. But I felt really comfortable in the BMW M4 DTM from the very beginning. It’s an impressive car. Of course, it is heavier than a Formula One car and has less power, but the aerodynamics are very good and you can drive through corners very fast. The team helped me a lot to get used to everything. You can see that it is highly professional. I enjoyed the day very much.”

Marco Wittmann:
“The test laps in the BMW M4 DTM went very well. I was able to complete over 500 kilometres and we had absolutely no problems with the car. Everything ran completely as it should do. I am very happy with the results of the tests. We were able to make some valuable findings – particularly with regard to the next race in a fortnight’s time, which will take place at the same circuit. We are well prepared for the eighth round of the DTM at the Lausitzring, as the season enters the finishing straight.”

Bruno Spengler:
“It felt great to be back at the Lausitzring. It was here that I scored the first win for BMW on its return to the series back in 2012. That was awesome. Because the race at this track was not so successful for us last season, it was important to test here again. We worked hard, gathered a lot of data, and further improved the set-up of the car. It was a perfect preparation for the remaining three races of the DTM season.”

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BMW Drivers Podium at Virginia International Raceway

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Aug. 27, 2014 . . . 2013 Street Tuner-class champions Terry Borcheller and Mike LaMarra, driving the No. 23 Burton Racing BMW 128i, raced to their second-consecutive Street Tuner podium with a third-place finish in Saturday’s 2.5-hour Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Virginia Raceway International, in Alton, Virginia. The duo won the last round’s race at Road America.

In the Grand Sport class, the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsport BMW M3 Coupe of John Edwards and Trent Hindman experienced electrical problems that dropped the duo down the running order. They ultimately finished twelfth, one lap down to the leaders, but scored enough points to keep Hindman second place in driver points – only two markers behind. The top-finishing BMW M3 Coupe was the No. 97 Turner Motorsport car of Tom Kimber-Smith and Michael Marsal, in sixth place.

With two rounds remaining in the season, BMW drivers have raced the marque to second in the Manufacturer points standing in both the GS and ST classes, with only one point separating BMW from the lead in ST.

“The championship chase is still close in both classes despite the fact that BMW’s competition has advantages due to the current Balance of Performance equations,” said Gordon McDonnell, BMWNA Motorsport Manager. “We are counting on the Series to address the issues so we may have an equal chance at the titles.”

The race will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 at 10:00a.m. ET on Sunday, August, 31st. Next, Round 11 of the 2014 CTSCC will be held at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, TX, on September 19th.

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Wicked 7 Widebody Porsche Turbo Spotted!

While this is primarily a BMW based site, I can certainly make exceptions for exceptional machinery. This is the first, and only Wicked 7 bodied Porsche that I have ever seen, and as luck would have it, it parked under my office window. A target of opportunity if there was ever one. Sadly my Canon gear was at home, so I made due with a few quick snaps with an iPhone 5S. I would have loved to chat with the owner, but sadly didn’t see him. Perhaps I’ll come across this car again at a Red Bank, NJ Cars and Coffee event…

http://www.wickedmotorworks.com/cardetails.php?carid=10114

 

 

Serviceplan Benelux: BMW: Brand Store Brussels

BMW Brand Store in Brussels earns Iconic Award 2014

Munich. The BMW Brand Store in Brussels, which opened in March 2014, has been honoured by the German Design Council with the Iconic Award 2014 in the category “Interior Design Retail” (“Best of Best”).

BMW Brand Stores are an element of the BMW Group’s Future Retail programme, which aims to enhance the customer experience and set new retail standards in the automotive industry and beyond. It is part of the BMW Group’s response to changing customer needs and expectations.

“Brands have to be experienced,” says Dr. Steven Althaus, head of Brand Management BMW and Marketing Services BMW Group. “Conventional showrooms are giving way to platforms which encourage communication and enable experience. Our interior concept combines architecture, design and technology to create a new form of brand presence. This fundamental vision of successful modern presentation has now been recognised by the Iconic Awards.”

The approx. 1,500 m2 Brand Store in Brussels refines the existing BMW architectural language to showcase the brand in appropriate style, utilising innovative exhibits and interactive media. The interior of the Brand Store conveys the dynamism and aesthetic appeal of the brand in an authentic manner. The attractive design of the exhibition space invites visitors to linger, while the latest presentation technologies encourage interaction with products and brand. Visitors are able to visualise the configuration of a vehicle on an oversized screen called the Virtual Product Presenter (VPP), for example.

Regularly changing exhibitions with different themes and installations provide insights into the different worlds of the BMW brand. More than 50,000 people have visited the Brand Store in Brussels since it opened in March 2014 with the “BMW i – eMobility” exhibition. The current “M Power & Motorsport” exhibition, which runs until early September 2014, has proved another success.

The interior design concept and initial exhibition for the Brand Store in Brussels was developed in collaboration with becc agency GmbH.

The Iconic Awards 2014 is an international architecture and design competition that recognises visionary architecture, innovative products and sustainable communication from all fields of architecture, the construction and property sectors and the manufacturing industry.

Information about Brand Store in Brussels: http://www.bmwbrandstore.be/be-en/

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BMW Team RLL Race Results at Virginia International Raceway

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Aug. 24, 2014 . . . BMW Team RLL put in a strong performance in today’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway, finishing 3rd and 4th in the headlining GTLM class.

John Edwards and Dirk Müller raced to a second-consecutive podium with a third place finish in the No. 56 BMW Z4. They completed 82 laps of the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIR circuit in the 2.75-hour contest, finishing only .764 seconds behind the winning Ferrari. The result moves Edwards and Müller into a tie for third place in GTLM driver standings with their BMW Team RLL teammates. Müller took the green flag from the fourth starting position and ran as high as third, before pitting to hand off to Edwards on Lap 29. Edwards moved up as high as second, ultimately finishing third to secure the duo’s third podium finish of the season.

The No. 55 BMW Z4 of Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx finished fourth. The car was started by Priaulx from the second qualifying position. He held that spot for the opening hour before pitting to hand off to Auberlen on lap 28. Auberlen battled a vibration from the left rear of the car during the closing stages of the race, but was able to hold onto a fourth place finish.

Separately, in the GTD class, the Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GTD, driven by Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala, raced to the team’s fourth victory of the season (Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, Road America, and VIR).

“We put in an excellent effort,” said Gordon McDonnell, BMWNA Motorsport Manager. “It is unfortunate we missed out on the top step of the podium, but I think we can be proud of third and fourth and good championship points.”

“We were playing the odds there with the yellows,” said Jay O’Connell, RLL VP Technology. “If the race hadn’t gone yellow at the end, the No. 17 Porsche was going to have to pit for fuel and we would have earned a double-podium. But as the yellow came out, ironically for another Porsche, the No. 17 was able to extend, and we ended up P3 and P4. I think both BMW cars did well to earn some good points by avoiding mistakes, and we are happy with that.”

 

John Edwards, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (3rd) – “That was a great points day and we have moved up to tie third in the championship. Unfortunately, the Falken Porsche was able to make it at the end on fuel thanks to that last yellow. We were counting on them running out and it staying green.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (3rd) – “I am thrilled with the result – many thanks to the team. We were focused from qualifying onwards so we had no qualifying set-up, just the race one. As could be seen today my car was a rocket and I was able to save fuel. It paid off as I was able to stay out longer and gain positions. Well done to John. Now we are tied for third in driver points. We could have gambled on the strategy like some others, but we didn’t do that as normally it would stay green, but then there was a yellow. It is a podium, our second consecutive one, and I am happy about that. There are still two races to go and we are fighting hard.”

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (4th) – “We qualified on the front row and have been fairly quick all weekend. We are as good as the competition in the corners, but they just drive away on the straights. It was a frustrating day at the races.”

 

Andy Priaulx, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (4th) – “The team did really well with the strategy, but it is difficult to know when the next yellow is going to come. You have to be able to look into the future. I was really delighted with my stint. I came in from P2 and was in touch with the leaders. We were a little bit unlucky with a couple of calls. Overall, we did the maximum and I think it is a great result for BMW.”

Round Ten of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the Lone Star Le Mans, will take place at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, TX, on Saturday, September 20th. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.imsa.com.

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BMW at the Moscow International Automobile Salon 2014

German premium carmaker BMW is using the Moscow International Automobile Salon (MIAS) 2014 to showcase the latest additions to its model range along with technological innovations offering even greater driving pleasure. Visitors to the event at the Crocus Expo IEC exhibition centre – which takes place from 29 August to 7 September 2014 – will be able to acquaint themselves with the brand’s entire model line-up in all its diversity, including the latest additions such as the flagship model in the SAV segment, the BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle, and the BMW X4 Sports Activity Coupe (SAC).

In addition, MIAS 2014 will witness the beginning of the latest chapter in the intelligent link-up of the driver, vehicle and outside world. The international motor show will host the presentation of new services from BMW ConnectedDrive, which can be used via a SIM card integrated into the car. The line-up ranges from innovative entertainment options and real-time traffic information to the Intelligent Emergency Call system with automatic vehicle location.

Likewise making its appearance on the German carmaker’s stand is the new BMW X5 Security Plus, which meets the highest standards of occupant protection.

The BMW Group is also using MIAS 2014 to unveil its groundbreaking initiative aimed at improving road safety: the Junior Campus Moscow.

The new BMW X3 and new BMW X4.
The BMW X4 is the fifth model in the BMW X line-up and, at the same time, the world’s first Sports Activity Coupe (SAC) in the premium mid-size segment. Its eye-catching body design combines the power and presence of a BMW X model with the sporting elegance of a classical BMW Coupe. The BMW X4 embodies the latest interpretation of the pacy driving experience that is a brand hallmark.

The driver and front passenger seats are 20 millimetres lower than in the BMW X3, and those of the rear passengers a full 28 millimetres lower. The sporting characteristics of the BMW X4 are also underlined by a range of powerful engines as well as the standard provision of xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive including Performance Control, 18-inch light-alloy wheels and variable sports steering. Customers seeking a sharp sporting edge and sense of elegance will be well served here, while functionality is likewise in ample supply: the 40 : 20 : 40 split/folding rear seat backrest allows the capacity of the load compartment to increase in stages from 500 to 1,400 litres, and the BMW X4 also comes as standard with automatic tailgate operation.

The new BMW X3 (fuel consumption in the EU test cycle: 4.7–8.3 l/100 km [60.1–34 mpg imp], CO2 emissions:124–193 g/km) is a thoroughly updated model that sets new standards in its class. In addition to its revised appearance and optional LED headlights, the new BMW X3 has been endowed with new petrol and diesel engines ranging in output from 110 kW/150 hp to 230 kW/313 hp. All power units in the BMW X3 meet the EU6 exhaust emissions standard.

A first for Russia: new services from BMW ConnectedDrive.
BMW ConnectedDrive is now also celebrating its premiere in Russia. These services can be integrated into the car via a telephone or online connection, taking the intelligent link-up of the driver, vehicle and outside world into a new dimension.

The prerequisite for the use of these services is a SIM card integrated into the car, which will be included as a standard feature on all BMW models (with the exception of the BMW X1 and BMW Z4) from summer 2014 with the introduction of the Intelligent Emergency Call service. ConnectedDrive Services will be a key item on the options list, allowing owners to add further innovative services to their BMW ConnectedDrive portfolio. These include BMW Online, BMW’s internet portal offering access to news, weather, an online search facility and other applications. The BMW Apps interface is also part of BMW ConnectedDrive, allowing the use of compatible smartphone apps.

Another BMW ConnectedDrive service available to customers is Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI). This service links up with the Navigation System Professional to display precise information on current traffic flow, roadworks, accidents and other events affecting traffic on a special map graphic, as well as to calculate the fastest route to your destination at all times. The new BMW ConnectedDrive package additionally offers the telephone-based information service Concierge Services – which can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and Remote Services. All functions can be operated safely and comfortably using the iDrive control system.

Optimum protection in any situation: the new BMW X5 Security Plus.
BMW has met the need for individual protection with specially developed and produced security vehicles for many years. MIAS 2014 will see the presentation of the latest new addition to this range of vehicles: the BMW X5 Security Plus. Based on the BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV), this model fulfils the requirements of protection level VR6. Offering a comprehensive system of protection against violent assault, kidnapping and organised crime, the new BMW X5 Security Plus thus meets the needs of risk-exposed private individuals and prominent public figures with enhanced security requirements.

The security concept underpinning the new BMW X5 Security Plus is the product of in-depth expertise amassed by BMW over more than three decades. It includes an armoured passenger cell with sealed joints which provides protection in the areas around doors and where body panels meet, plus security glass specially developed for protection level VR6. Thanks to the outstanding driving characteristics laid on by the 330 kW/450 hp BMW TwinPower turbo V8 engine working in tandem with the intelligent all-wheel-drive system xDrive, the new BMW X5 Security Plus can be guided securely through difficult situations at all times – on and off surfaced roads.

A fun route to better safety: BMW Group Junior Campus Moscow.
The BMW Group has launched the Junior Campus Moscow as a special facility for car-mad youngsters. The Campus’ fun all-round approach introduces children aged between five and ten to the importance of behaving safely and with consideration for others on the road. The educational concept underpinning the activities offered by this road safety improvement initiative is tailored in detail to the needs and abilities of the children. Located in Moscow’s Artplay Complex, the Junior Campus runs both open workshops and special programmes for school classes.

The Moscow International Automobile Salon is held every two years and is Russia’s biggest car show. MIAS 2014 offers exhibitors from around the world an area spanning more than 110,000 square metres on which to present their products and new developments. Visitor numbers exceeded the one-million mark in 2012, and the organisers are expecting this year’s event to attract even greater popularity among the public.

Further information on official fuel consumption figures, specific CO2 emission values and the electric power consumption of new passenger cars is included in the following guideline: “Leitfaden über Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO2 emissions und den Stromverbrauch neuer Personenkraftwagen” (Guideline for fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and electric power consumption of new passenger cars), which can be obtained from all dealerships, from Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH (DAT), Hellmuth-Hirth-Str. 1, 73760 Ostfildern-Scharnhausen and at http://www.dat.de/en/offers/publications/guideline-for-fuel-consumption.html. LeitfadenCO2 (GuidelineCO2) (PDF ‒ 2.7 MB)

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BMW Motorsport News – Issue 30/14

Whether in the DTM, the United SportsCar Championship, or countless other championships: week after week BMW teams and drivers around the world do battle for points, victories and titles. Away from the track too, members of the large BMW Motorsport family around the world are also creating headlines. The “BMW Motorsport News” allows us to regularly summarise all the action for you in a compact and informative manner. This way, you are always up to speed.

DTM: Heikki Kovalainen tests for BMW at the Lausitzring.
This week, the BMW DTM teams head to the Lausitzring (DE), where they will undertake tests with the BMW M4 DTM from Monday to Thursday. The tests will focus on the set-up of the car, with an eye on the upcoming DTM race at this circuit on 14th September. On one of the four days, the BMW DTM drivers will be joined by ex-Formula One driver Heikki Kovalainen (FI). He has 111 Formula One Grands Prix under his belt, and will use the opportunity at the Lausitzring to gain an impression of the BMW M4 DTM.

Blancpain Sprint Series: BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert wins at the Slovakia Ring, no luck for Zanardi.
The BMW Sport Trophy teams finished one-two at the fourth round of the Blancpain Sprint Series at the Slovakia Ring near Bratislava (SK). Thomas Jäger (AT) and Dominik Baumann (AT) of BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert came home first in Sunday’s main race at the wheel of a BMW Z4 GT3. They produced an impressive fightback to claim their first victory in this series: problems during Saturday’s qualifying meant they started the main race from down in 19th on the grid. In a thrilling finale, they came through in the final minutes of the race to finish ahead of Caca Bueno (BR) and Sergio Jimenez (BR) of BMW Sports Trophy Team Brazil, who crossed the finish line second at the end of the one-hour race. Their team-mates Matheus Stumpf (BR) and Valdeno Brito Filho (BR) were unlucky and crashed out of the main race after a collision at the start, having previously climbed from 17th on the grid to finish fourth in the qualifying race. Luck also deserted BMW works driver Alessandro Zanardi (IT): his BMW Z4 GT3 was also hit by another car shortly after the start, and was so badly damaged that he was forced to retire after just one lap. His ROAL Motorsport team-mates Stefano Colombo (IT) and David Fumanelli (IT) came home 13th at the end of a difficult race.

BMW Motorsport Juniors: second outing on the Nordschleife.
BMW Motorsport Juniors Jake Hughes (GB), Jesse Krohn (FI) and Alexander Mies (DE) overcame miserable conditions to successfully complete their second race in the BMW M235i Racing at the 6-hour race in the VLN Endurance Championship, which took place at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife (DE). After 31 laps, the number 152 car crossed the finish line in 58th place. “On their second outing, our Juniors once again had to cope with unsettled weather, and they again did a very good job of overcoming this challenge,” said head instructor Dirk Adorf (DE). The BMW Motorsport Juniors shared the cockpit with Michela Cerruti (IT). She usually races in a BMW Z4 GT3 for ROAL Motorsport in the Blancpain Endurance Series. However, the Italian used the VLN race to get her first taste of the Nordschleife in the BMW M235i Racing. “I was very excited about my first Nordschleife experience,” said Cerruti. “I had every possible weather condition over the course of the race, so I think I experienced the real Nordschleife.” As well as the circuit, the Italian also got to know the car and the BMW Motorsport Juniors. “Congratulations to BMW Motorsport on the Juniors they have selected,” she said. “They are all very good drivers, and nice guys too. They made me feel very welcome.”

BMW M235i Racing Cup: Adrenalin Motorsport wins the highlight of the season.
Two weeks after failing to finish at the sixth round of the VLN Endurance Championship, Daniel Zils (DE), Norbert Fischer (DE) and Uwe Ebertz (DE) pulled off an important success in the race for the Drivers’ Championship in the BMW M235i Racing Cup class. They won their class and finished an outstanding 14th overall in the number 667 BMW M235i Racing at the highlight of the VLN season, the Opel 6h ADAC Ruhr-Pokal-Rennen. The Adrenalin Motorsport trio won the class, finishing ahead of Matias Henkola (FI), Nico Marvin Monien (DE) and Florian Gruber (DE) of the MBP Racing team, with Max Partl (DE) and Jörg Weidinger (DE) of Scheid-Partl Motorsport coming home third. Victory sees Zils, Fischer and Ebertz extend their lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Adrenalin Motorsport continues to lead the Team competition.

VLN: Walkenhorst Motorsport lands a BMW Z4 GT3 in the top six.
The 6-hour race in the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife (DE) proved to be very successful for the Walkenhorst Motorsport team. Niclas Kentenich (DE), Henry Walkenhorst (DE), Peter Posavac (DE) and Anders Buchardt (NO) finished sixth overall in the number 36 BMW Z4 GT3. The second Walkenhorst car, number 35, came home 12th. The team also finished third in the SP9 class to claim a place on the podium. Rolf Derscheid (DE) and Michael Flehmer (DE) finished runners-up in the V4 class in their BMW 325i. In doing so, they successfully defended their lead in the overall VLN standings. In total, BMW drivers claimed seven class victories at the seventh round of the season.

CTSCC in Virginia: BMW on the podium in the ST class.
In Saturday’s  Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Virginia Raceway International  (US) Terry Borcheller (US) and Mike LaMarra (US), in the Burton Racing BMW 128i,  were on the Street Tuner podium after finishing third.  In the Grand Sport class the Fall-Line Motorsport BMW M3 of John Edwards (US) and Trent Hindman (US) could only finish 12th due to technical problems. The top-finishing BMW M3 was the Turner Motorsport car of Tom Kimber-Smith (GB) and Michael Marsal (US) in sixth.

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Disappointing Sunday race for Alessandro Zanardi at Slovakia Ring.

Slovakia Ring (SK), 24th August 2014. Alessandro Zanardi (IT) was fully motivated heading onto the grid for today’s main race of the Blancpain Sprint Series at Slovakia Ring (SK). However, lady luck was not on his side today. The BMW works driver had to retire after the first lap as his BMW Z4 GT3 was hit by an opponent in the first corner.

All looked well for Zanardi: he was tenth on the grid and ready to start a catch up towards the front, just as he did at his last outing in the series in Brands Hatch (GB), where he raced to a sensational fifth place from the back of the grid in his BMW Z4 GT3. In addition, weather conditions today were much better than yesterday, when it had poured down during most of the qualifying race. Today, it was windy, but dry with some sun.

However, Zanardi’s main race was over before it began. His BMW Z4 GT3 was hit when several cars collided in the first corner after the rolling start. While other cars were stranded in the gravel, Zanardi was able to continue, but after the first lap he had to go to the pits with a puncture on the left rear as well as other damage to the car. The ROAL Motorsport team tried to fix the car in order to send the BMW Z4 GT3 back on track, but it turned out that the damage was too big and Zanardi had to retire.

“We had the weather we were hoping for and I strongly believed we had the car to get a good result. But unfortunately this is racing,” Zanardi commented. “After a very good start I got trapped behind the accident and I tried to avoid it but, of course, many cars were coming behind me and I got pushed into the chaos. So basically I had nowhere to go and in all the chaos going on somebody damaged my left rear tyre. Towards the end of the lap I could feel the tyre losing pressure and I told my team over the radio that I would come in to change the tyre. Then we decided to retire because the damage to the car at the front was too bad. It would have been too dangerous to continue like that. It was a real pity because, for sure, the car would have been good enough to get a really strong result. So now we have to try next time.”

The main race was won by Thomas Jäger (AT) and Dominik Baumann (AT) from BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert, Caca Bueno (BR) and Sergio Jimenez (BR) from BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil finished second. The Slovakia Ring hosted the fourth round of the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series. The next round will be held in two weeks’ time at Portimao in Portugal (5th to 7th September).

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BMW Team RLL Qualification Results at VIR

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Aug. 23, 2014 . . . Bill Auberlen equaled his season’s-best qualifying effort today at Virginia International Raceway, driving the No. 55 BMW Team RLL Z4 to the outside front row starting position for tomorrow’s 2.75-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Oak Tree Grand Prix. His lap of 1:44.053 minutes around the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIR circuit was only .256 seconds behind the pole-sitting Ferrari. The entire class was separated by only 1.015 seconds. Auberlen and co-driver Andy Priaulx currently stand fourth in GTLM driver points.

 

Dirk Müller qualified the No. 56 BMW Z4 in the fourth position, only .023 seconds behind Auberlen, with a time of 1:44.076 minutes. Müller and co-driver John Edwards, pole winner at the last round in Road America, currently stand fifth in GTLM driver points.

“This is a great qualifying result,” said Jay O’Connell, RLL VP Technology.  “We couldn’t quite get the pole like last year, but getting second and fourth is great. If you looked at the timesheet, a tenth of a second was going to cost us five places, so it is a tight field. Obviously Ferrari is out front after doing a really good job, but I am proud of Bill and Dirk for their drives today. Without the prototypes tomorrow, we are starting on the front row and there is no one ahead of us, so we can have a nice clean start, a really good race, and I am looking forward to a fun time tomorrow.”

 

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTLM – (2nd) – “We have done a lot of work here. We have tried different tires, different set-ups, all kinds of stuff – and we’ve earned P2 in a field separated by a mere second. This has all the ingredients for a great race. BMW is right at the front. To actually see daylight ahead of us from the front row will make it that much better racing into turn one tomorrow.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTLM – (4th) – “I am really happy as I wasn’t expecting I could do that time. Twenty-three thousandths of a second to P2 and I am P4 is absolutely fantastic. I love racing in this GTLM class. Our focus was totally on the race and not a single second on qualifying.  As a racer sometimes that is tough because you want to be on pole all the time, but our heads are on the race and our car is going to be a rocket.”

 

The 2.75-hour Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR will take the green flag at 4:05 p.m. ET Sunday, August 24th. The race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 with coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.imsa.com.

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Alessandro Zanardi returns to the cockpit of his BMW Z4 GT3 in torrential rain in Slovakia

Slovakia Ring (SK), 23rd August 2014. Alessandro Zanardi (IT) is back behind the wheel of his BMW Z4 GT3: this weekend the 47-year-old BMW works driver contests the fourth round of the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series, which is held at Slovakia Ring near Bratislava (SK). Today, Saturday, the qualifying practice and the qualifying race were on the schedule for Zanardi and the ROAL Motorsport team that enters his car. He finished the hectic qualifying race, which had to be red flagged twice and was hit by torrential rain, in tenth, meaning he will start tomorrow’s main race from this position.

Zanardi was ninth on the grid for the qualifying race, which began at 14:45 local time. Just in time for the start, the first drops of rain were reported over the track. With a very good start, Zanardi improved to sixth as the lights went out. But on the first lap the safety car had to be deployed after a massive crash in the first corner. Soon afterwards the race was red flagged for the first time, as a safety barrier had to be repaired. In addition, torrential rain had started to pour down.

After a break of over 20 minutes, the race was re-started behind the safety car with conditions still very wet and tricky. On the slippery track, Zanardi spun his BMW Z4 GT3 and lost several positions, dropping down the order to 16th. Halfway through the race Zanardi completed his mandatory pit stop before the safety car came out again, as a car had stopped on track. During this safety car period it started to pour down again so, as there was too much water on the track making it impossible to drive, the race was red flagged for the second time. After another break of more than half an hour the race was re-started once more behind the safety car. The clock showed 28 more minutes to go. Zanardi was 12th at that time. Over the remaining time, he improved by two positions and brought his BMW Z4 GT3 home safely in tenth.

“It was a very tiring race because in these conditions it was easy to make a mistake”, Zanardi reported afterwards. “I have a lot of experience and I know it can’t get worse than this with the rain. Shortly before the second red flag I had just changed tyres, so I tried to catch up with the safety car. I was in second gear and almost lost the car four times. I shifted down to first gear and still the car was going all over the place. I’ve never experienced anything like this, it was just unreal. Besides that, I had a very good start, but then unfortunately someone hit me on my left side. After that the car had huge understeer when turning right, and most of the corners are right handers here. That certainly compromised my race. But tomorrow is the day that matters most and we managed to keep more or less the same starting position for tomorrow. We will fix the car and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for all of us without any rain.”

The qualifying race was won by Laurens Vanthoor (BE) and Cesar Ramos (BR). Tomorrow’s main race will start at 12:40 local time.