BMW Team RLL will close the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at this Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. With the GTLM class title decided in the last round, BMW has its focus set on a strong runner-up finish in the championship standings as well as winning the Michelin Endurance Cup title. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the third season of IMSA competition for the BMW M8 GTE has been an outstanding one with a total of nine podium finishes, including victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the six-hour Grand Prix at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
In most every preceding IMSA season this race would be held on the third weekend of March as the second race of the season. Postponed to this Saturday because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s 12-hour race will close out the season in exciting fashion. BMW Team RLL is still be fighting for second place in the GTLM driver and manufacturer championships as well as the Michelin Endurance Cup – a four-race championship representing the four endurance races in a season and 52 hours of competition.
Augusto Farfus and Colton Herta will return as third drivers. Farfus will line up with John Edwards and Jesse Krohn in the No. 24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE and Herta will support Connor De Phillippi and Bruno Spengler in the No. 25 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE.
The Sebring International Raceway has already been the setting for the third round of this season after the schedule was halted by the pandemic. A two-hour-and-forty-minute race was held on July 18 with BMW finishing a disappointing fourth and fifth.
“Twelve hours is a lot longer than we ran there earlier this year,” stated Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “This is a different animal for sure. We have had success at Sebring in the past. We have won the race several times and qualified well so you have to think that despite the performance disadvantage we seem to have, compared to the Porsche and Corvette, the nature of that race can be an equalizer for us. We just have to continue to push as hard as we can, to make sure we have great pit stops and to also make sure we explore the strategies we might be able to use that can help us win. The win does not always go to the fastest, it goes to the smartest. That is what we have to focus on and just do our job.”
He continued, “To win the Michelin Endurance Cup would be a major accomplishment. Given the nature of the races that comprise it like Daytona, Sebring, Petit – in fact both the six and ten-hour races at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta this season. I think we were on the podium in each of those races aside from winning Daytona. We have to look back at those races and feel very proud of the championship of that type. There are several championships available in the IMSA world — team, driver, and manufacturer – and the intent is to win them all and we’ve come close to that before. We are not going to win them all this year for sure but that does not mean we don’t continue to try. It has been a demanding year for everybody. When we finished Daytona, we thought we would continue the momentum and within a month and a half the season was on hold. Once we got going again, some of the races were so grueling in terms of weather, temperature or a super-compressed schedule which was very demanding for all of the teams and series.
And of course, we missed the spectators at most events. Everyone is looking forward to finishing off this season on a high like we started it and turning our focus to 2021.”
Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley will be supported by Dillon Machavern at Sebring, co-driving the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3. Auberlen and Foley stand fifth in GTD class driver points and a good finish at Sebring could move them up in the final placings. BMW ace Auberlen has three 12 Hour trophies from previous IMSA seasons; 1995, 1997 and 1998.
Saturday’s 12 Hours of Sebring is scheduled to take the green flag at 10:10 a.m. and will be broadcast live on NBC’s Trackpass, a subscription streaming service. Follow us on Twitter @BMWUSARacing for news from the pit box and get live scoring and in-car camera views at IMSA.com.
John Edwards, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE: “We have had some big ups and downs this season, but all of it has put us only one point away from second place in the overall championship! We are also leading the North American Endurance Championship, so we have a lot on the line at this year’s Sebring 12 Hour. The margins in GTLM are super close as always, so we will have to be really on top of our game to close out the season with a strong result. Hopefully, we be able to finish the season the same we started it at Daytona—on top of the podium!”
Jesse Krohn, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE: “We are leading the standings for the Michelin Endurance Cup so our first job will be to seal the deal for BMW. Also, we are only one point behind second in GTLM driver points, so a good result is especially important to finishing the season on a high note.”
Augusto Farfus, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE: “I am excited to return to BMW Team RLL for the 12 Hours of Sebring. After our strong weekend at Petit Le Mans (third place) in the No. 24 BMW M8 I believe we can keep our endurance race momentum going for another podium result.”
Connor De Phillippi, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE: “The 12h of Sebring is always a flat-out brawl of a race. Typically, the pace is fast, there aren’t many yellows and a consistent car is super important. I know we’ve done a lot of analysis since our sprint race there a few months ago and I have high hopes that we can go there to fight for the win.”
Bruno Spengler, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE: “This will be my second time racing the famous 12 Hours of Sebring. My first opportunity came in 2016 with BMW Team RLL. I co-drove the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM to a second-place finish with Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner. Sebring will be a very special place to finish my first full IMSA season and I am looking forward to both the challenge and a good result.”
Colton Herta, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE: “I am super exited to join BMW Team RLL and my teammates Connor and Bruno for another weekend. In my opinion, Sebring is the toughest track in North America to put a lap together. I feel very privileged to drive the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE this weekend.”