BMW Team RLL Unveils 2013 ALMS Driver Lineup
WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. (Jan. 14, 2013) - BMW of North America and BMW Motorsport today unveiled BMW Team RLL's driver lineup for the 2013 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón season. The driver announcement comes on the heels of the news that BMW Team RLL will field two newly designed BMW Z4 GTEs in the hotly contested GT category, beginning with the season-opening 61st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 16.
The 2013 BMW Team RLL driver roster features a slew of familiar faces punctuated by two young newcomers. Returning drivers Bill Auberlen (pictured, left), Joey Hand (pictured, right) and Dirk Müller will anchor the effort. Due to his full-time commitment to BMW in the DTM series for a second consecutive season, Hand will contest only some ALMS races in 2013. Twenty-one-year old New Yorker John Edwards will join the team, replacing Hand for the races that don't fit into Hand's DTM schedule.
The newest BMW Motorsport driver, Maxime Martin, will join BMW Team RLL for the full season. The 26-year-old finished second in the 2012 BMW Sport Trophy after a strong season racing a BMW Z4 GT3 in the Blancpain Endurance Series and a BMW ALPINA B6 GT3 in the ADAC GT Masters. For the long-distance races at Sebring and Petit Le Mans, Uwe Alzen and Jörg Müller will return to the team.
"We are really looking forward to this new chapter of BMW racing in North America," said Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO, BMW of North America. "After two Manufacturer's championships, two Team championships, one driver championship, and the MICHELIN GREEN X Challenge championship for BMW Team RLL with the M3 GT, we now entrust the same strong team to deliver more trophies with our new Z4 GTE. We are absolutely convinced that BMW fans will again see great ALMS GT class racing in 2013."
The BMW Z4 GTE was developed for the ALMS regulations, based on the BMW Z4 GT3, which has celebrated multiple championship wins in Europe and Asia. The 2013 ALMS season will be used as a development year for the new car to lay the best foundation for the all-new face of North American sports car series arriving in 2014.
"With the BMW Z4 GTE, we are starting a new chapter in North America alongside BMW Team RLL," said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. "We have celebrated magnificent victories and titles with the BMW M3 GT and BMW Team RLL over the past four years. The BMW Z4 GTE has everything it needs to continue this success story."
"All of us at BMW Team RLL are very excited about the 2013 season with the new BMW Z4 GTE," said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. "We had four great years with the BMW M3 GT and now want to compete on a par with our rivals with the BMW Z4 GTE as soon as possible. With any new car there is going to be a period of development, but we are excited about the upcoming season. This will be our fifth year with BMW and it's obvious we have a great working relationship. In fact, some of the members of the team are in Munich working side-by-side with BMW Motorsport building the cars. We share the same approach in terms of our desire to be successful and it's a real honor and privilege to represent BMW in motorsport."
In additional personnel news, long-time BMW employee Gordon McDonnell has been named the dedicated BMW NA Motorsport Manager, responsible to lead the program from concept to the finish line. McDonnell's diverse experience includes North American management of BMW Motorsport Parts, M Performance Parts, and BMW NA's current GRAND-AM programs. Given the merger between ALMS and GRAND-AM, McDonnell is well-positioned to maximize BMW's racing successes in the USA.