Returning for a full IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with Turner Motorsport, 50-year-old Bill Auberlen shows no signs of slowing down.
Auberlen has set a pair of lofty goals entering the 2019 season, beginning with the Rolex 24 At Daytona when he joins Jens Klingman, Robby Foley and Dillon Machavern in the No. 96 Liqui Moly BMW M6 GT3.
“Last year I ran a few of the races with the Rahal team and ran the rest of the races with Turner,” Auberlen said. “That’s good, but you can’t go for a championship that way. I want to go for a real championship. I think with Robby Foley we’ve got a chance to do it again. We know this M6 well enough, and this team is cagey. It’s good enough and smart enough that we’ve got a chance for a championship.”
Auberlen has another major career goal. He enters the campaign with 58 victories in North American sports car competition, trailing only recently retired Scott Pruett’s 60 on the all-time list.
“The objective for me is: A, to win the championship; but B is to try to get two more wins to tie Pruett and maybe three to pull ahead. That would be a milestone worth having, for sure.”
That was Auberlen speaking on the record; he’s really looking to win that third race to be atop the list.
“I’m going to keep racing until I get it,” he admitted. “Race wins are so hard to come by and this series is so competitive. But, our day’s going to come and we’re going to get it.”
This year’s race will mark Auberlen’s 28th attempt at the Rolex 24, tying him for second with Pruett behind Hurley Haywood’s 40 races on the all-time list.
“I’ve won this race a couple of times (1997 and ’98), finished second quite a few times and have been right there. Now, it’s time to win it again.”
With only Saturday’s day of track activity remaining for the GTD teams, Auberlen has been very pleased with his team’s results from the Roar Before the Rolex 24.
“I think this has been the most calm Roar I’ve ever been to,” he said. “Everybody on the team has been here before and has driven this car. We’re just fine tuning. Nothing has been chaotic; it’s as smooth as can be.
“We’ve got a good driver line-up, and I’m feeling good about that; we’ve got the BMW M6 that we know really well; and the question mark was the Michelin tire,” Auberlen added. “From history, we know that Michelin is such a good company that we expected great things, and the car is running quicker. Our goal at the Roar was to get that Michelin tire and the setup under us before we get to the Rolex 24, and then run solid for 22 of those 24 [hours] and then try to take it to the top step.
Sunday, while the GTD teams get the day off, Auberlen will still be at the track.
“Sure, I love the extra days of driving, but I’ll still be here tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll watch and be a spectator. That should be fun.”