Theissen shows up at Sebring to support Rahal team
We are very happy to be back here,” Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director, said with a smile Friday about BMW’s return to the American Le Mans Series. “There was a certain need to be here and I’m very happy to see our car racing again in the Americas.”
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen stressed the importance of BMW's presence in North American racing.
Theissen, along with team owner Bobby Rahal and Martin Birkmann of BMW North America talked about the current pursuit of the BMW Rahal Letterman Team at the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. The partnership sees two BMW M3s entered in the highly competitive GT2 class.
“We are creating our baseline,” mentioned Rahal, a Sebring Hall of Fame member and overall race winner in 1987. “We are competing with the American Le Mans Series and are in the company of the crème de la crème, the top of the top in manufacturers and sponsors.
“In 2007, it was our primer year,” he added. “It allowed us to get our foundation built. Now we are here to put our best foot forward …and our role is to enter and compete in cars in partnership with BMW.”
Rahal, known for his open-wheel years, noted his personal interest in the Series. “My background was first spent in sports cars. Sports cars have been a priority for me.” And with experience behind the wheel, Rahal understands the purpose of the 12 hour race. “It is a new car. It is a very difficult race. My goal is to finish,” he said.
Theissen continued to reiterate the mission behind the re-introduction of BMW to the American Le Mans Series. “What truly counts to our customers is the M3. They want to see their cars (that they buy) on the race track. So we tried to develop and design a car in Munich that can race in several series. Le Mans cars are built for one race.”
With no Formula 1 race in North America, the market was open and ready to see BMW back competing on the on all 10 American Le Mans Series circuits throughout 2009. Besides providing information back to BMW about the reliability, durability and speed of the car, BMW hopes to see increased exposure and continue to enhance the value of its brand.
“There is passion for the M3. Look in the car clubs,” Rahal noted. “It’s a tremendous passion for the brand and motorsports created that.”
“The season doesn’t finish here,” added Theissen. “It begins here.”