ALMS: BMW's New Young Guns Set For Title Chase

Rising star drivers John Edwards and Maxime Martin join BMW Team RLL’s factory roster for 2013...
John Dagys  |  Posted February 18, 2013 Chicago, IL

Newly signed BMW factory drivers John Edwards and Maxime Martin check out the BMW Z4 GTE with veteran Bill Auberlen. (Photo: Chris Tedesco/BMW: see right)

The BMW Z4 GTE isn’t the only change within the Bavarian manufacturer’s American Le Mans Series effort for 2013, as BMW Team RLL has added a pair of promising young drivers to its factory GT program.

While no strangers to success, 21-year-old John Edwards and 26-year-old Maxime Martin will make their debuts as BMW factory drivers in next month’s season-opening Twelve Hours of Sebring, in what could very well be the turning point in the careers of both rising stars.

"It's a big step and opportunity for me,” Edwards told “Obviously this year, my role is doing a little over half the races. Hopefully I'll do what I can and learn what I can and see if that can lead into anything in the future.”

Following success in the junior formulas, which included championships in both Atlantic and Star Mazda former Red Bull Driver Search winner Edwards has shifted his focus towards a long-term career in sports car racing. 

Having spent the past three seasons in GRAND-AM, Edwards will double-up this year, adding a six-race ALMS schedule to his season-long efforts in the Rolex Sports Car Series with Stevenson Motorsports.

Edwards will team with BMW veteran Dirk Mueller in the No. 56 entry for the races that Joey Hand will miss due to his DTM conflicts. All three, however, will be in the Z4 GTE for Sebring.

"The main goal for me, especially since I'm not in the drivers' championship after missing races, will be to help the team win the manufacturers' championship,” he said. “I'm definitely more in a supportive role this year for Dirk and the team. 

“These guys all have experience in BMWs and it's my first year in a BMW. Maxime is also new to Team RLL but he's been driving the Z4 in Europe, so we'll definitely have a steep learning curve at the beginning of the year.”

For Martin, 2013 also marks a new challenge, as the Belgian will be making his U.S. debut, sharing the wheel of the No. 55 BMW with veteran Bill Auberlen for the entire 10-round championship. 

He’ll also be serving as BMW’s test and development program for its DTM program while continuing in the Blancpain Endurance Series for Marc VDS Racing team, which finished runner-up last year with a factory supported BMW Z4 GT3 car.

Martin enjoyed a breakout 2012 season that saw his success in the European GT ranks rewarded with a second-place finish in the BMW Sports Trophy Cup, for top privateer drivers. Now, as a full-fledged factory driver, his task will be to adapt to American-style racing. 

"It will be difficult because I have not driven in the [ALMS] before and don't know any of the tracks,” Martin said. “It's also a new [version] of the car and I don't know the team or my teammates very well yet. So everything is new. It will be a big challenge but we have a good team and we may have something for the championship.

“I’ve already achieved my first big goal. I always wanted to be a works driver, and I’ve succeeded. Now I’m really looking forward to the ALMS and will try to win races and championships for BMW.”

While Martin may be a relatively unknown name to many in America, he, along with Edwards will likely turn more than a few heads this year as both embark on a new chapter that could take the championship-winning squad to even greater heights. 

“All in all, I believe we have a fantastic mix of young and experienced drivers,” said BMW Team RLL team principal Bobby Rahal. “I’ll get Maxime and John to push the older drivers forwards, and will ask Bill Auberlen, Dirk Müller and Joey Hand to act as teachers for their younger colleagues.”

Both Edwards and Martin will get their first taste of the BMW Z4 GTE later this week at Sebring, when the car completes its initial test on U.S. soil, which will also include a planned 12-hour endurance run on Friday. 

John Dagys is’s Sportscar Racing Reporter, focusing on all major domestic and international championships. You can follow him on Twitter @johndagys or email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it