Hand likes BMW's chances at Road America
Joey Hand’s last American Le Mans Series race at Road America behind the wheel of a BMW nearly resulted in one of the biggest victories of his career. The young Californian finished second with Bill Auberlen in a BMW M3 that gave mighty Porsche all it could handle at one of America’s best road courses.
The pairing, together again for 2009, is returning to Road America in one of BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team’s next-generation BMW M3s. They hope to keep the team’s podium streak going in what should be another fantastic fight in GT2 at the Time Warner Road Race Showcase on Sunday.
|Hand's Rahal prepared BMW GT2 car|
“We weren’t quite quick enough,” said Hand, who almost outdueled Porsche works driver and four-time Road America class winner Jörg Bergmeister in the 2006 race. “I was able to pressure him and he went off. I got by him but he caught me again on one of the long straights.
“People don’t think that Road America should suit BMW because of the horsepower factor,” he added. “What they forget is that Road America is made up of a lot of corners. It’s not all straightaways. A lot of those are corners that really suit BMW. Our special trait is the performance in the turns. Your lap is determined on how you come out of the corner because we can start out with a higher speed than other cars.”
Hand and Auberlen hope the good fortune that smiled on them that day and earlier this year at Lime Rock Park will find them again at Road America. They were third last month in the first race of the season’s second half, and the car was one of the quickest of the weekend at Mid-Ohio. A collision with one of the prototypes resulted in a broken wheel on their BMW, putting them a lap down.
As it has been all season, GT2 will be extremely tough and competitive. It will mark the second race for the new GT2 program from Corvette Racing. And throughout the event all six manufacturers had at least one entry in the top-five. It’s mouth-watering competition to say the least.
“I’ve typically raced well at Road America no matter if it has been in GT2 or Atlantics,” said Hand, who has two Road America top-fives in Formula Atlantic to his credit. “I like really like the place and Bill really likes the place too. We knew we would be good at Lime Rock because it is BMW’s home track, and Mid-Ohio was good to us as well. We were quickest in two practices and second-quickest in another. That’s pretty darn good. We’re both pretty excited about what’s to come. I would love to bring BMW their first win in this program.”
The Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase set for 2 p.m. CT on Sunday, August 16 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. The race will air live on SPEED. American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche and Live Timing & Scoring will be available at Racehub on americanlemans.com. Radio coverage also will air live on Sirius Channel 126 and XM Channel 242. You also can follow the Series on Twitter (almsnotes).
The race also will mark the seventh round of the 2009 MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge. Tickets are available at americanlemans.com and roadamerica.com.