This week the entire racing world will have its collective eyes on the Daytona International Speedway as the 53rd annual Rolex 24 at Daytona once again brings endurance racing to one of the most challenging race tracks in the world.
BMW is celebrating a milestone of it’s own as it commemorates 40 years of racing in the US. Count on Automotive Addicts to offer a very unique take on the anniversary.
From BMW Group:
Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – January 20, 2015… BMW Team RLL will begin its seventh consecutive season of sports car racing competition at this weekend’s 53rd annual Rolex 24 at Daytona celebrating a very special anniversary. The race marks the 40th anniversary of BMW’s first race in the US and BMW Team RLL will race with the numbers 24 and 25 on its two BMW Z4 GTLM machines in honor of the iconic BMW 3.0 CSL race cars that debuted at the same race four decades ago.
“40 years ago, while BMW of North America was still in its infancy, BMW’s first national marketing program in the United States was to go racing”, commented Ludwig Willisch, Chairman and CEO of BMW of North America, LLC. “BMW Motorsport introduced two BMW 3.0 CSL race cars in North America for the 1975 IMSA season at 24 Hours of Daytona. Those cars became legends and laid the foundation for success BMW has enjoyed in the past four decades, where today we are the number-one luxury brand.
“The two toughest races of the championship are the first two of the season,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “With Daytona being a 24-hour race, it certainly can play a major role in the championship. The odds are probably against you to finish, so the first thing is that you’ve got to do everything you can to make sure you get to the end. Last year, with only a couple of hours to go we were looking pretty good; then we had one car lose a wheel bearing and the other had to stop and replace the wheel bearing as a safety precaution, so we went from a chance to win to ending up with second-place as our best finish. It sounds simplistic, but whoever spends the least amount of time in the pits is pretty much going to win. We have to approach it in the same manner this year. We have two new Z4 GTLM chassis’s that are probably a little stronger than last year and having had a good test, I think there is a good chance for us to do well.”
2015 is the third season of competition for the BMW Z4 GTLM, and this year two new chassis have been constructed and tested extensively at two preseason tests at the Daytona International Speedway.
For the Rolex 24 at Daytona, BMW has assembled a team of stellar drivers that include current BMW DTM stars Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler. Spengler will be making his first 24-hour race start ever. Farfus and Spengler will co-drive the No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM with season-long drivers Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, the latter pair having driven together in 2012 in a BMW Team RLL M3 GT.
Jens Klingmann and Graham Rahal will join John Edwards and Lucas Luhr in the No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM. Edwards and Luhr will drive the car for the season. With the addition of the experienced Luhr, BMW Team RLL retains two of the top-three drivers on the all-time North American sports car racing victories list. Luhr stands third with 51 victories and Bill Auberlen second with 53 wins. Both are chasing Scott Pruett, with 59 wins.