BMW Team RLL Returns to 2013 ALMS with New BMW Z4 GTE
BMW of North America and BMW Motorsport today announced that BMW Team RLL will again campaign BMW’s American Le Mans Series entries in 2013. The two car team will do battle with the best of North American GT class sports car racing with the newly designed BMW Z4 GTE starting with the season-opening 12 hours of Sebring on March 16.
“We are really looking forward to this new chapter of BMW racing in North America,” said Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW of North America. “After two Manufacturer’s championships, two Team championships, one Driver championship, and the Michelin Green-X 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 in the capable hands of professional and privateer BMW drivers. This year’s ten-race ALMS season will also be used as a development year for the new car in order to lay the best foundation for the all-new face of North American sports car racing in 2014.
“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.”
This year, the BMW Team RLL driver line-up will feature a strong mix of experience and youth. Returning drivers Bill Auberlen (US), Joey Hand (US) and Dirk Muller (DE) 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 (US) will join the team, replacing Hand for the races that don’t fit into Hand’s DTM schedule. Beginning his career in open-wheel racing, Edwards won the Star Mazda title in 2008 and the Atlantic series championship in 2009. Since 2010 he has focused on GT and GS class racing in the GRAND-AM series.
The newest BMW Motorsport driver, Maxime Martin (BE), will join BMW Team RLL for the full 2013 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 the Petit Le Mans, Uwe Alzen (DE) and Jorg Muller (DE) will return to the team.
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.