- 1-2 in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge as IMSA Celebrates championship weekend at Road Atlanta for AERO Sustainable Paint Technology
Braselton, Ga. (8 October 2017) - Not that his reputation or legacy needed any help, but BMW RLL Racing driver Bill Auberlen went ahead and added yet another incredible accomplishment to his racing record this weekend with a victory at Petit Le Mans.
Teaming with co-drivers Alexander Sims and Kuno Wittmer in the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM machine which utilizes AERO Sustainable Paint Technology, Auberlen’s 400th career start with BMW was one for the record books as the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship closed at Road Atlanta this weekend.
IMSA WeatherTech competition is quickly establishing itself internationally as some of the toughest racing in the sport, and Saturday’s 10-hour race was a particularly rough and tumble round with some very close finishes through the field following 14 safety car periods.
The win powered BMW to second in the final IMSA Manufacturer Championship standings and was the fourth victory of the season for the BMW M6, which went out on a victorious note as it will be replaced by the BMW M8 starting in 2018. Following nearly 400 laps of competition, it was just a 1.060 second margin-of-victory for the BMW squad over the second-placed Corvette.
“We went to battle with this BMW M6 GTLM,” said Auberlen. “This was a perfect car right from the beginning. Thanks to all my guys. What great way to complete my 400th race with BMW. This is just amazing!”
BMW Team Principal, Bobby Rahal was proud of the accomplishments that came from the team’s effort all season long.
“This was a good, tough race. I’m so happy for Bill, winning at his 400th race appearance for BMW,” said Team Principal, Bobby Rahal, who also utilizes AERO technology for his Verizon IndyCar Series program. “Alexander (Sims) and Kuno (Wittmer) also did a great job. In the end, the Corvette gave us everything it had to give – but we still won. To win four races in one year is pretty good in this series. And they were hard-fought. I’m really pleased for BMW Motorsport and the whole team. What a way to end the year with two wins in a row.”
The triumph was just one of many for teams putting the AERO Sustainable Paint Technology advantages to work in both the 10-hour Petit Le Mans as well as the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race on Friday.
Also capping off a successful year, and at a key moment, was Ferrari squad Scuderia Corsa. On the very same day that Rockefeller Plaza played host to Ferrari’s huge New York City celebration of the brand’s 70th anniversary, the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan raced to a second consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Driver Championship.
Reflecting on the arduous race, the No. 63 Ferrari suffered an off-track excursion with driver Matteo Cressoni early on, but the team rallied back to push Ferrari to the Manufacturer Championship.
“We did a thing that not a lot of people have done,” Nielsen said. “One is fine, but twice is even greater. This one is even tougher than last year. The mentality of never resting on previous results, and always pushing and working harder than we ever have before has been our advantage. And that’s why we’re standing here today.”
Neilson’s co-driver, Balzan, also relished in the manufacturer victory.
“At the very end, we were also able to win the manufacturer championship for Ferrari on its 70th anniversary so it’s great honestly,” added Balzan.
It can be pretty easy to find the teams utilizing AERO Sustainable Paint Technology, particularly if you start your search in victory lane. That was once again the case at Road Atlanta as AERO squads came home 1-2 in the ST class with a Cinderella finish in the FOX Factory 120 for a team with an undetermined future.
Competing in what could be their final race together, Own Trinkler and Sarah Cattaneo scored victory in their AERO-liveried No. 44 CRG-I Do Borrow Nissan Altima. The win was the third consecutive podium for the duo including their winning run at Virginia International Raceway as they powered to second in the final driver championship standings.
“The guys did a great job with the car set up,” said Trinkler. “We set it up for the hot conditions. I can’t thank Jim Haaser (lead engineer), Brian Buttler (crew chief), Richie (Thrembly), everybody on the team. Sarah drove a great stint and did what she needed to do and then we were just able to get away. The car was awesome. This is so great to end on for Sarah. That hood right there (which fans signed during the grid walk) is going in her house, it’s just unreal.”
Adding to the AERO celebrations was the champagne spray from Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing , who finished second in their No. 75 APR LLC / AERO Advanced Paint Technology /Pfaff Audi C360R Audi S3, after taking home their first win of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca two weeks ago.
The GS Class saw the pole-winning No. 76 Alphaclone ETF / Pfaff McLaren / AERO Advanced Paint Technology / Race Day Foundation McLaren GT4 suffer a mechanical issue during the race. But the sister No. 77 Santo Mezquila / Misahara Jewelry / Pfaff McLaren/ Aero Advance Paint Technology / Race Day Foundation of Matthew Keegan and Nico Rondet came through for a podium with their run to third to close out the year.
While the 2017 IMSA season closes the books, there is yet a lot of racing ahead for AERO squads with multiple championships including the European Le Mans Series and Michelin Cup still set to host the closing event of their championships with a visit to Portimão on October 20-21.
Images via BMW Communications and Ferrari North America