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BMW M8 GTE Races To First Podium Finish At Sebring

GTLM BMW Team RLL Drivers, Bill Auberlen, Alexander Sims, and Conner De Phillippi Celebrating Their 2nd Place Finish at Sebring.  Image Credit: 2018 BMW Group

BMW M8 GTE Races To First Podium Finish At Sebring
Article By: Brandon O'Brien | Images By: BMW Group

The weeks between the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12-Hour race at Sebring were busy for BMW Team RLL.  The team was successful in getting a positive Balance of Power (BoP) adjustment from IMSA which will allow the new BMW M8 GTE's to be more competitive. This was followed by the  successful testing of the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE at Sebring.  Unfortunately, the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE did not fair so well  and was extensively damaged in an accident while being driven by Alexander Sims (UK).  Instead of making hasty repairs to the car the team decided to build up a new chassis.

Bill Auberlen (USA) made his 25th start at the classic event this year.  Prior to the race he stated, "I am really looking forward to my 25th start at Sebring.  I am betting on the number 25.  BMW's first endurance racing victory in North America came at Sebring in 1975 with BMW 3.0 CSL number 25. This year is my 25th Sebring and I am driving number 25.  25 - all the way."

BMW Team RLL experienced successful GTLM qualifying sessions.  With a time of 1:55.839 minutes, Conner De Phillippi (USA) claimed pole position for the No. 25 car.  De Phillippi stated, "I could not be happier to score the pole in my first qualifying drive for BMW Team RLL.  The car was spot on and it all came together on the first flying lap.  We have a really good racing car."

Conner De Phillippi after placing the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE on the GTLM Pole for the iconic 12-hour race at Sebring.
Image Credit: 2018 BMW Group

In the No. 24 car, Jesse Krohn (FIN) recorded the third-fastest time, finishing just 0.146 seconds behind his team-mate. Jesse had this to say, "Great job by Conner to score the pole.  It ended up to be a one lap qualifying for me because of the hot track temperature.  I made a bit of a mistake on my first lap.  I thought I could make it up on my second lap, but was unable."

De Phillippi, Sims, and Auberlen did flawless jobs after starting from pole position.  The BMW M8 GTE mastered the tough 12 hours of racing without major technical issues.  Following a brake change the No. 25 BMW lost a lap to the leaders but managed to fight it's way back into the group of front-runners.  Sims was able to secure the first podium finish for the newly developed BMW M8 GTE as the final-stint driver.  In total, it was the 69th podium for BMW Team RLL and the 26th runner-up finish since 2009.

The No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE on its way to a podium finish at the classic 12-hours of Sebring.  Image Credit:  2018 BMW Group

The No. 24 BMW M8 GTE, driven by Jesse Krohn (FIN) John Edwards (USA) and Nick Catsburg (NED), had to retire in the final hours of the race.  Four hours and seventeen minutes into the race Edwards was involved in a collision with the No. 66 Ford GT.  The car was extensively damaged and lost nine laps while in the pits for repairs.  Although their day did not end on a high note the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE showed it's potential by leading the GTLM class for a period of time and also scoring the fastest GTLM lap - a 1:57.622 set by Krohn.

These were not the only BMW's to be out on the track at Sebring this weekend.  In the GTD class the Turner Motorsports team No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 driven by, Don Young (USA), Dillon Machavern (USA), and Markus Palttala (FIN) progressed through the GTD class from their starting position of 16th to 11th.

In the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race on Friday, Classic BMW's Toby Grahovec (USA) and Jayson Clunie (USA) finished 2nd with their No. 26 BMW M4 GT4.

Jen Marquardt, BMW's Motorsport Director, had this to say about the weekend, "We have seen another exciting and extremely tough 12-hour race here at Sebring - and we can take many positives back home.  Congratulations to BMW Team RLL and our BMW Motorsport crew on the maiden podium finish for our new BMW M8 GTE.  The 12 hours here is more demanding than many 24-hour races on other circuits.  That makes this result even more special.  Far more important than the result are two other findings: On the one hand, the BMW M8 GTE was able to show its potential, which is underlined by the fact we recorded pole position and the fastest race lap.  On the other hand, the GTLM field was far better balanced than it was at Daytona.  The fans saw a thrilling race with close battles and excitement to the very last lap.  This is what we all want.  We are now looking forward to the upcoming races.  At Long Beach we will go flat out again."

TAGS: Alexander Sims, Bill Auberlen, BMW, BMW Motorsport, BMW M4 GT4, BMW M6 GT3, BMW M8 GTE,  BMW Team RLL, Classic BMW, Conner De Phillippi, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, Jen Marquardt, Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, IMSA, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Nick Catsburg, Sebring


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