BMW Team RLL will begin to write a new chapter in BMW racing history when the team takes the green flag at this weekend’s 54th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona with two new BMW M6 GTLM racing cars.
Replacing the BMW Z4 GTLM as BMW’s weapon of choice for international sports car competition this year, the twin turbocharged V8-powered M6 has shown its strength in early season testing. The M6 posted the quickest GTLM time – 1:45.066 minutes – in the recent three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 test at the Daytona International Speedway.
This year is a historic one for The Ultimate Driving Machine® as Bavarian Motor Works celebrates its 100th anniversary and to mark the occasion one of the M6 machines will race with the number 100. The second M6 will continue to race the number 25 in honor of BMW Motorsport’s first season racing in the US in 1975. 2016 also marks the 40th anniversary of BMW’s first overall win at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Two commemorative liveries, one looking at the history of BMW’s racing success in the US and one looking to BMW’s future, will be debuted in a media conference at the Speedway on January 27 at 9 a.m.
In its seven seasons of North American sports car competition, BMW Team RLL has posted 13 victories among 57 podium finishes, winning the American Le Mans Series Manufacturer and Team championships in 2010 and repeating the feat and adding the driver title in 2011. Beginning with the BMW M3 GT2 in 2009, the team successfully introduced the BMW Z4 GTLM in 2013 and expects to continue its winning ways with the BMW M6 GTLM in 2016, the 100th anniversary of Bavarian Motor Works.
BMW Team RLL will make only one change to its driver lineup for this year’s Rolex 24. Kuno Wittmer will replace Jens Klingmann in the No. 100 M6 as the BMW Motorsport driver will race fulltime in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport M6 GTD this season. Wittmer, the 2014 GTLM drivers champion, will support season-long drivers John Edwards and Lucas Luhr in the No. 100 machine at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans. IndyCar star Graham Rahal will race for his father’s team for a third consecutive Rolex 24.
The lineup for the No. 25 M6 will remain the same as last year with Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner supported by BMW Motorsport DTM drivers Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler. The talented quartet finished second in last year’s Rolex 24, finishing only .478 seconds behind the GTLM class winner after 725 laps of battle.
“We are all excited about kicking the season off,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “Of course, the most difficult race of the season is the first race. It is always a challenge for any team and manufacturer. But as we’ve shown over the course of the last several years, we have had some pretty trouble-free runs. One car might have been affected a little bit more than the other at times but the whole idea of this kind of racing is to spend as little time in the pits as possible. It’s a tough race. Racing for 24 hours is difficult. It’s just comes down to consistency, reliability and staying out of trouble. Even though it’s a new car, we go into this race feeling pretty confident. I think the BMW M6 GTLM is a more sophisticated car than we’ve had in the past and there are challenges that come along with that but we have a lot of confidence in BMW, our drivers and our team and I think that our expectations of having a very good race are reasonable.”
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “A new baby first needs to walk before it can run, but the M6 GTLM has certainly found its legs quickly as we demonstrated at the Roar test. I am very proud to be part of the team bringing another BMW racing car to the track. This is the fifth generation (E36 M3, E46 M3, E92 M3, E89 Z4, F12 M6) I’ve had the honor of racing in the last two decades.”
Augusto Farfus, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “It’s an honor to be back with BMW Team RLL and be part of the first race of the M6 GTLM. The team did a very good job at the Roar test and the car felt very strong. Of course, in a 24-hour race anything can happen, but I think we will make a good first impression.”
Bruno Spengler, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “This will be my third career 24 hour race and second consecutive Rolex 24 with BMW Team RLL. The M6 GTLM is new, but I believe it to be quite well born. We had a strong Roar test and I am very motivated for the race.”
Dirk Werner, driver No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM: “This year will be my ninth Rolex 24 At Daytona and I am looking forward to it as much as my first race there. For sure this year will be special. BMW celebrates its 100th anniversary and we will race the new BMW M6 GTLM for the first time. Certainly big challenges are ahead of us, but with the support of BMW Team RLL and BMW Motorsport I think we have a good chance for a podium finish.”
John Edwards, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM: “We’re finally switching from testing and development into race mode. It’s been great to see the improvements made during the development process with our new M6 GTLM, and I’m confident that we’ll have good pace in 2016. We found a great car balance during the Roar test and I think we all feel ready to race. There are a lot of unanswered questions in the GTLM class this year with the addition of Ford and a new aero kit for the Corvettes, but I know that if we can just survive the first 22 hours of the race, BMW will be fighting for the win on Sunday afternoon.”
Lucas Luhr, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM: “After many months of testing and developing our M6 GTLM it is time to go racing. It is a big challenge to have the Rolex 24 as our first race, but I think we are well prepared. We had a strong Roar test so I am looking forward to the race. It is going to be a very tough fight this year in the GTLM class, but I’m looking forward to another year with BMW team RLL. I love racing in the US. I think it is the best GT racing in the world.”
Graham Rahal, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM: “I am thrilled to be joining BMW for a third year in a row and now in the new M6. I think they have once again assembled a great team, and with the top notch mechanics and team at RLL behind us, I think we should have a great shot to pick up my second Daytona 24 Hour win in a BMW powered machine.”
Kuno Wittmer, driver No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM: “I am really looking forward to participating in my first race for BMW. Everyone on the team has made me feel at home. We have done extensive testing with the BMW M6 GTLM. The Rolex 24 will be its first real race test. Of course, we are not treating this as a test. We are a competitive team that’s wants to win! The Rolex 24 is a daunting event. Patience is always the key.”
The 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona takes the green flag at 2:40 p.m. Saturday, January 30 with the first two hour hours of coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 2 p.m. ET. Coverage shifts to FOX Sports 2 from 4 to 10 p.m. ET. FOX Sports 1 will pick up the broadcast from 7 – 9 a.m. ET and then finish with three hours of coverage beginning at 12 p.m.