Victory is becoming habit forming for BMW. One event after scoring its first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship triumph in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class at Long Beach, BMW Team RLL was back at it Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
This time, Lucas Luhr and John Edwards teamed to give the No. 24 IHG Rewards Club BMW Z4 GTLM its first TUDOR Championship victory. Long Beach winners Dirk Werner and Bill Auberlen placed second in the No. 25 IHG Rewards Club BMW Z4, with Edwards leading Auberlen to the checkered by 22.572 seconds.
It was Luhr’s ninth class victory at the circuit – including three overall triumphs in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón – and 52nd in all-time North American endurance racing, two behind Auberlen and seven behind leader Scott Pruett.
Michael Christensen finished third in the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR started by Patrick Pilet. Pierre Kaffer and Giancarlo Fisichella took fourth in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia, followed by Christensen and Joerg Bergmeister in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.
The race was slowed by two cautions that came back-to-back in the opening hour of the two hour, 40-minute session. Luhr started the race in the No. 24 before Edwards took over and managed to work traffic after the second restart to build a commanding lead. With the remainder of the race run under green, he went unchallenged, only briefly relinquishing the lead during the final round of pit stops.
NEWS AND NOTES
· The second-place finish enabled Auberlen and Werner to close the gap on Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen to two points (128-126). The drivers of the No. 3 Corvette C7.R – who opened the season with victories at Daytona and Sebring – finished seventh. Winners Luhr and Edwards improved to third with 121 points.
· Michael Christensen did a unique double for Porsche North America. He started sixth in the No. 912 Porsche, and pitted under the first caution 36 minutes into the race, turning the car over to Joerg Bergmeister. Christensen then relieved Patrick Pilet in the team’s No. 911 with one hour remaining, and went on to finish third in GTLM, while Bergmeister came home fifth.
· The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia won the DEKRA Green Challenge Award for the third consecutive event. The award is presented to the most environmentally clean, fast and efficient GTLM competitor at each TUDOR Championship race. The award is determined through Green Racing protocols established by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International.
· The next event for the TUDOR Championship will be the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers, featuring the Prototype, Prototype Challenge and GTD classes at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park on Saturday, May 30.
Lucas Luhr, Driver – No. 24 IHG Rewards Club BMW Z4 GTLM
“After two races where we should have been on the podium but had little issues, it’s very rewarding to have a victory. It’s my first victory as a BMW works driver, so it’s really special. It’s very sweet, and I’ll remember it for a long time.”
John Edwards, Driver – No. 24 IHG Rewards Club BMW Z4 GTLM
“The key today was traffic. We had some slower Prototypes that we had to get through. Being the first one to arrive in the back of the Prototypes was an advantage, because I could stuff my nose in and surprise them. After that, they started blocking and that enabled me to get a gap. I’m happy Lucas and I could get to the top step after our teammates did it last weekend at Long Beach.”