Debut for BMW Team RLL’s BMW Z4 GTE
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – BMW is embarking on a new chapter of its motorsport commitment in North America. After four successful years with the BMW M3 GT, the new BMW Z4 GTE will take over at the head of the manufacturer’s campaign in the 2013 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL presented the car and drivers for the new season at Daytona International Speedway, site for the first race of the 2014 combined North American sports car championship. The first race for the 2013 ALMS season is the 61st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 16.
Supported by Premium Partner Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, guests from around the world were given the opportunity to inspect the BMW Z4 GTE at close hand, talk to those responsible for the team, and experience the iconic racetrack in Florida from the cockpit, courtesy of taxi rides with the BMW ALMS drivers.
“All of us at BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL are very curious to see how the first few races pan out with the new BMW Z4 GTE,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “We are setting out on a development year, but are very confident we have once again developed a car that has the potential to win races and titles in the form of the BMW Z4 GTE. Seeing our drivers at this event, you could tell how much they are looking forward to the first race in Sebring.
BMW Motorsport also announced the driving pairings for the coming season. American Bill Auberlen teams with ALMS rookie Maxime Martin, from Belgium, in the No. 55 entry. German Dirk Müller will contest all the races in the No. 56 car; Americans Joey Hand and John Edwards will alternate as the two-time ALMS GT champion’s driving partner. Edwards will stand in for Hand when he is unavailable due to his parallel commitment in the DTM. Jörg Müller (No. 55) and Uwe Alzen (No. 56) will bolster the squad at Sebring and the Petit Le Mans season-finale.
“There is a lot of enthusiasm in the team for the new car,” team principal Bobby Rahal said. “Certainly there will be a development period involved but ultimately I see no reason why we can’t be competitive with the great competition that exists in the GT category in the ALMS. Although this might be a development year in many respects, the level of driver talent we have on the team – including the two new exciting additions with Maxime Martin and John Edwards – I think that ultimately we can have success and do much as we did in 2009, the first year of the BMW M3 GT, and work hard toward achieving maximum results in its first year. One aspect of the launch that is very exciting is not just the introduction of the BMW Z4 GTE and our drivers, but also the collection of historic cars that were the cars that began the success story of BMW in North American racing.”
BMW’s guests travelled to Orlando, Fla. on Monday, and were welcomed that evening at a dinner in the Crowne Plaza Universal Orlando by Marquardt, Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW of North America; Rahal; and BMW NA Motorsport Manager Gordon McDonnell. On Tuesday, the ALMS drivers took the visitors on a series of taxi rides in historic BMW racing cars. The official unveiling of the BMW Z4 GTE followed.
The car is not the only important new thing BMW Team RLL can look forward to in the coming season: Michelin is the new tire partner of BMW Motorsport in the ALMS. In contrast, Premium Partner Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts is something of a constant. The successful cooperation will continue in 2013. Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts belongs to the InterContinental Hotels Group. IHG maintains, runs and owns over 4,400 hotels and more than 658,000 rooms in approaching 100 countries.
The 61st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida is set for 10:45 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 16 from Sebring International Raceway. SPEED's live coverage begins at 10:30 a.m. ET.
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