BMW Team RLL heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (USA) for the penultimate round of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC). The 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit on the Monterey Peninsula has hosted sportscar races since 1957 and is a favourite of BMW Team RLL principal Bobby Rahal (USA). Rahal scored four consecutive Champ Car victories at Laguna Seca, beginning in 1984, and in his honour, the straight between turns six and seven was named the “Rahal Straight”.
BMW Team RLL has also found success at Mazda Raceway, capturing one win, four seconds and two thirds since 2009, the team’s first season racing for BMW. The victory came in 2015 with John Edwards (USA) and Lucas Luhr (GER) driving the number 24 BMW Z4 GTLM. The car raced that season in a distinctive black livery and, beginning at Laguna Seca, the number 24 BMW M6 GTLM will race in black for the final two races of the 2017 season.
This year, a mid-season run of six podium finishes by the team, including two wins by Bill Auberlen (USA) and Alexander Sims (GBR), has BMW standing third in GTLM Manufacturer points. Despite losing almost certain victory in the closing minutes at VIR due to a punctured tyre, Auberlen and Sims stand second in the Driver points, 16 points from first. Teammates John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk (GER) stand seventh in the Driver points.
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal, BMW Team RLL): “We are very much looking forward to returning to Laguna Seca, one of my favourite circuits. As a driver and team owner, we have had a tremendous amount of success there over the years whether it was IndyCar racing, sportscar racing, Can Am or you name it. As recently as 2015, when John Edwards did a great job in traffic to really cap it off and win the race with a 1-2 finish, we’ve had success there. This year has obviously been a competitive year for us so we are optimistic of bringing home a good finish. We have been on the podium almost every year BMW Team RLL has raced there so we have a good track record we want to maintain. Certainly our VIR results did not help our championship hopes but there are two races coming up that should play to our strengths with Laguna Seca and Petit Le Mans.”
Bill Auberlen (Number 25 BMW M6 GTLM): “We have been in position to win the last two races, but haven’t for one reason or another. We’re still second in the points but we could be leading so that’s a little frustrating.”
Alexander Sims (Number 25 BMW M6 GTLM): “As with every race so far this year I am thoroughly looking forward to learning a new circuit and driving our BMW M6 GTLM through the famous corkscrew. We had excellent pace at the last round in Virginia and hope we can carry some of that over to Laguna. I know the Rahal team has been working very hard to keep improving and give us the best possible chance to fight at the front.”
John Edwards (Number 24 BMW M6 GTLM): “We’re back in black this weekend, so I’m reminded that the last time I drove a black BMW at Laguna Seca, we were on top of the podium in a BMW 1-2! Hopefully we can repeat that feat this weekend. The track is probably the most picturesque that we go to and the elevation there does not disappoint. It’s been a long break since VIR so I’m ready to get back to racing.”
Martin Tomczyk (Number 24 BMW M6 GTLM): “Laguna Seca will be great to drive for me. As a kid I was always driving this track on my Playstation, knowing that I would drive it someday. Now it’s time to race there together with John, BMW Team RLL and the BMW M6 GTLM. I hope we will be as successful as I was on the console years ago.”