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      06-12-2011, 10:52 AM   #1
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Arrow BMW Motorsport Returns to Podium at Le Mans 24h – Third place for BMW M3 GT in Class

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BMW Motorsport returns to the podium at the Le Mans 24 Hours – Third place for the BMW M3 GT in the GTE class.
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Le Mans, 12th June 2011. Twelve years after the BMW V12 LMR achieved its triumphant overall victory, BMW Motorsport is back on the podium at the Le Mans (FR) 24 Hours: In the hard-fought LM GTE class, Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk Müller (DE) and Joey Hand (US) finished third in the no. 56 BMW M3 GT. Final-stint driver Hand crossed the finish line at the “Circuit de la Sarthe” after 313 thrilling laps and having covered a distance of over 4,200 kilometres.

In contrast, the drivers of the second BMW M3 GT, number 55 – Augusto Farfus (BR), Jörg Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE) – left the endurance classic empty-handed. The trio had battled for 276 laps, repeatedly fighting their way back after being hampered by incidents. Just two and a half hours before the end of the race, however, the fifth-placed BMW M3 GT came to a stop in the “Mulsanne” corner. Jörg Müller had previously reported to the team feeling vibrations in the car. Victory in the LM GTE class went to Corvette’s Olivier Beretta (MC), Tommy Milner (US) and Antonio Garcia (ES).

The 79th staging of the Le Mans 24 Hours, which was at times dramatic and overshadowed by several spectacular and alarming crashes, proved to be a roller-coaster ride for Team BMW Motorsport. Both cars had to make several unscheduled pit stops for repairs and to change tyres, while rain showers added another factor to the final stages of the race. The two BMW M3 GT cars that had started the race from pole position and third on the grid, demonstrated their performance over the entire race distance, consistently clocking competitive times. Dirk Müller clocked the fastest GTE race lap with a time of 3:58.876 minutes. Bearing in mind the various incidents, third place for Priaulx, Dirk Müller and Hand was probably the best possible result.

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The Le Mans 24 Hours also counts towards this season’s Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC). Third place in France means BMW has finished on the GTE podium at every race so far in this competition. BMW celebrated a one-two in the GT class at Sebring (US), while BMW drivers also finished third in the GTE class at the 1,000-kilometre race at Spa-Francorchamps (BE).

BMW Motorsport congratulates Audi Sport and Corvette Racing on their victories in the very competitive LM P1 and LM GTE Pro classes.

Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director):“That was a positive finish to a turbulent 24-hour race for us. Third place with our BMW M3 GT in the GTE class at this classic here in Le Mans, twelve years after our outright victory – that is a big success for BMW Motorsport. I would like to congratulate and thank all those involved in this project, who gave everything during the development phase prior to the race and here on-site over the race weekend.”

Charly Lamm (Team Manager):“We showed in this race we can play a major role in Le Mans. We did that from the word go. Then we were hit by a sequence of unfortunate incidents, ranking from tyre damage to a stone damaging the radiator. This meant we lost contact with the leaders. It was then a matter of getting as much as possible out of this race. We managed that with BMW M3 GT number 56. The podium finish is a fine reward for the team’s struggles. Unfortunately it did not work out for car number 55, which suffered driveshaft related damage, which we will have to take a more detailed look at. Despite this, the car was in the leading group for long periods of the race. In general I think we can be proud of our performance.”

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Andy Priaulx (car number 56):“I am obviously delighted to be on the podium at only my second visit to this race. Our aim was to finish and we did just that. We carried a misfire for most of the second half of the race, so it was great to finish on the podium. The team did a brilliant job, we all carried the car home. Joey and Dirk also did an awesome job, it was a really nice race.”

Dirk Müller (car number 56):“It wasn’t an easy third place I have to say that. I am extremely pleased because a podium in Le Mans means a lot. Andy and Joey did a fantastic job, BMW gave us a great car. We had a little bit of tough luck with the electronics so we weren’t able to really fight for the victory, but nevertheless congratulations to our competition. We can really celebrate this first place and are really happy.”

Joey Hand (car number 56):“I came here to win. I always come to win and I thought we really had a good shot to win this thing. A little bit of bad luck struck us in the night and a few other times. When I stood on the podium it all became real for me as this is a big deal. This is my first time here and to be on the podium I am really excited. I enjoyed every bit of my time here with BMW Motorsport and everyone from Schnitzer. They have got a lot of really great people on this programme and I am very thankful to BMW to let me come over and do this.”

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Augusto Farfus (car number 55):“So near, yet so far. Le Mans is a very special race in every way. It can be the happiest experience or the biggest disappointment. Today for me it was the latter. However, we had over 21 hours of fantastic racing and enormous fun. The team did a brilliant job all week so I want to say a big thank you for flawless pit stops and a great car. It’s a pity we didn’t get the reward for all this.”

Jörg Müller (car number 55):“That was definitely one of the toughest, if not the toughest, race I have ever driven. The conditions were not easy during the night, and I spent almost four hours in the car. When the car then gives up on you just before the end of the race, it is hard to take. But I always look ahead.”

Dirk Werner (car number 55):“That was a very difficult race for us. Our car was quick and always in a position to clock top times. However, we were repeatedly hampered by incidents and unexpected situations. We fought like lions. That makes it all the more disappointing that we did not make it to the finish.”


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      06-12-2011, 11:12 AM   #2
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It was an incredible race, and that #56 BMW was the fastest GTEPro car on the track towards the end, 3 seconds a lap faster than the leading Corvette. But unfortunately, it was too little too late, they just couldnt make up the difference.


I give them props, a podium finish at Le Mans is a huge accomplishment. Congrats to BMW.
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      06-12-2011, 11:49 AM   #3
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Congrats to the BMW Team, incredible result for a young team that is making a huge impact since entering the GTE class. With the amount of accidents (2 spectacular Audi crashes) and issues that came up in the grueling 4200kms race, to come third place is a massive accomplishment. Better luck next time for Car # 55. Well done boys!!
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      06-12-2011, 11:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylon View Post
It was an incredible race, and that #56 BMW was the fastest GTEPro car on the track towards the end, 3 seconds a lap faster than the leading Corvette. But unfortunately, it was too little too late, they just couldnt make up the difference.


I give them props, a podium finish at Le Mans is a huge accomplishment. Congrats to BMW.
I did not get to see the race but was anxiously waiting for the results. Podium finish their first year back from a 12 year break.

I'm really excited about this. Go BMW.

Can't believe the Vette that finished first was driven by former Rahal-Letterman ALMS team member Tommy Milner.
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      06-12-2011, 11:58 AM   #5
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      06-12-2011, 11:58 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by 3XTR3M3 View Post
I did not get to see the race but was anxiously waiting for the results. Podium finish their first year back from a 12 year break.

I'm really excited about this. Go BMW.

Can't believe the Vette that finished first was driven by RLL team member Joey Hand.

Who had a 12 year break? The pair of BMW M3's were there last year after winning the Nuburgring 24hr race.
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      06-12-2011, 12:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Who had a 12 year break? The pair of BMW M3's were there last year after winning the Nuburgring 24hr race.
You're right. I know they won the Ring 24 but forgot they did the La Mans 24 because it was nothing to write home about.

Also, I meant Tommy Milner, not Joey Hand.
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      06-12-2011, 12:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 3XTR3M3 View Post
You're right. I know they won the Ring 24 but forgot they did the La Mans 24 because it was nothing to write home about.

Also, I meant Tommy Milner, not Joey Hand.

Ah, gotcha.
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      06-12-2011, 01:18 PM   #9
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Audi won... That's annoying
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      06-12-2011, 01:26 PM   #10
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I watched most of the race yesterday..BMW deserved better, but there's always next year.

Btw, does anybody have links to download Hi-res pics of the M3 at le mans yesterday? The pics are stunning!
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      06-12-2011, 01:27 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mahmood07 View Post
I watched most of the race yesterday..BMW deserved better, but there's always next year.

Btw, does anybody have links to download Hi-res pics of the M3 at le mans yesterday? The pics are stunning!


There are some here:

http://www.autoblog.com/2011/06/12/d...-in-the-books/
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      06-12-2011, 01:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jblack4083 View Post
Audi won... That's annoying
I think they deserved that one... considering 2 of their cars were wiped out by catastrophic accidents. Thankfully everyone was okay (from the reports I've heard)
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      06-12-2011, 02:14 PM   #13
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Nice job by the BMW team (and local to me guy Joey Hand)! The 56 car had several setbacks (the crash earlier in the week, that misfire) and they hung in there and ended up on the podium. There's always next year and they've been running pretty well all year. Can't wait to see them at Laguna later this year.
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      06-12-2011, 02:50 PM   #14
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Good for BMW, but I'm impressed with the 458...right out of the box a second place finish in the GTE class...

Meanwhile, Audi wins again...when will BMW contest for the overall? When Audi is out?
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      06-12-2011, 02:51 PM   #15
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awesome work for BMW team.
On a side note, did you guys see that violent crash that McNish was involved in? He was overtaking a Ferrari on the inside in his AUdi, and the guy in the Ferrari cut in, hitting McNish, and the rest is history. Glad both are ok.
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      06-12-2011, 02:53 PM   #16
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Good for BMW, but I'm impressed with the 458...right out of the box a second place finish in the GTE class...

Meanwhile, Audi wins again...when will BMW contest for the overall? When Audi is out?


When they decide they want to spend 1 billion euro plus in their motorsports department. I think it was mentioned by either RLM or Speed that either BMW or Porsche (I forget which) doesnt want to spend that kind of money on motorsports. Without a budget like that, they will never be able to contend with Audi at Le Mans.

Audi spend an enormous amount of money on their LMS cars. And now they will be spending even more when they rebuild their R18's that were destroyed.
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      06-12-2011, 03:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Good for BMW, but I'm impressed with the 458...right out of the box a second place finish in the GTE class...

Meanwhile, Audi wins again...when will BMW contest for the overall? When Audi is out?
BMW won with their V 12 LMR 12years ago, I Think they have been there. I find it more fun to watch cars Like the M3 cars I know from the street, rather than the Peugot and Audi.
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      06-12-2011, 03:11 PM   #18
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BMW won with their V 12 LMR 12years ago, I Think they have been there. I find it more fun to watch cars Like the M3 cars I know from the street, rather than the Peugot and Audi.

That was 12 years ago, a lot has changed since then. You gotta spend a lot of money to keep up with Audi's development teams. They have pioneered a lot of the new tech in Le Mans. I'm not saying they can't do it, Im just saying that I dont think they will.
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      06-12-2011, 03:32 PM   #19
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those early misfires really set them back. If everything ran smoothly, they might have had a higher podium finish!
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      06-12-2011, 04:20 PM   #20
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good work BMW!
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      06-12-2011, 04:22 PM   #21
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Quote:
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awesome work for BMW team.
On a side note, did you guys see that violent crash that McNish was involved in? He was overtaking a Ferrari on the inside in his AUdi, and the guy in the Ferrari cut in, hitting McNish, and the rest is history. Glad both are ok.
It looked like the 458 driver had already committed to the line he was taking right at the apex of the curve, obviously the overtaking speed of the Audi R18 is much greater. I think McNish thought he would be able to get there before the 458 however, the Ferrari driver didn't realize, and probably couldn't have seen McNish coming anyway. IMHO, I think McNish made a poor call on that move. It's crazy that the R18 was basically totaled while the 458 was repairable. Not to mention the bystanders who were incredibly lucky. McNish was probably the must lucky of all.

Overall I am glad BMW had a podium finish - I was hoping they would take the class judging by how strong of a start they had. But you need more than just speed at Le Mans.
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      06-12-2011, 04:24 PM   #22
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