Exactly 40 years after the first victory of BMW at the 24 Hours of Daytona back in 1976, two new BMW GT cars will make their race debuts at this year’s iconic event. BMW Team RLL will field the BMW M6 GTLM in the GTLM class, while Turner Motorsport sends two BMW M6 GT3s into action in the GTD category. The two new cars replace the BMW Z4 GTLM and the BMW Z4 GT3 respectively, both of which claimed numerous victories in North America.
BMW Team RLL enters its eighth season with BMW Motorsport, and it promises to be a historic year: not only will the BMW M6 GTLM make its debut, but BMW is also celebrating its 100th anniversary. To mark this occasion, one of the two BMW M6 GTLMs will line up in the new IWSC season with the number 100. Like the number 25 car, it will feature a special livery, which will be unveiled at a press conference in Daytona on 27th January.
In order to ensure that the new car is able to compete at the head of a high-class GTLM field, featuring the likes of Chevrolet, Ferrari, Ford and Porsche, BMW Team RLL has opted for continuity in its driver line-up. The regular crews for the two BMW M6 GTLMs remain unchanged from last year. Bill Auberlen (US) and Dirk Werner (DE) share the cockpit of the number 25 car. They will be supported in Daytona by BMW DTM drivers Augusto Farfus (BR) and Bruno Spengler (CA). As in 2015, John Edwards (US) and Lucas Luhr (DE) are the regular drivers at the wheel of the number 100 car. They will receive back-up in Daytona from Graham Rahal (US) and the only new face in the squad, Kuno Wittmer (CA).
Turner Motorsport will field two new BMW M6 GT3s in the GTD class. BMW works driver Jens Klingmann (DE) and Bret Curtis (US) will contest the entire season in the number 96 BMW M6 GT3. The duo will be supported in Daytona by Ashley Freiberg (US) and BMW DTM driver Marco Wittmann (DE). Like last year, the number 97 car will be shared by Michael Marsal (US) and Markus Palttala (FI). They will be joined at the Daytona International Speedway by BMW DTM driver Maxime Martin (BE) and BMW Motorsport Junior Jesse Krohn (FI).
The BMW teams and drivers are not only looking forward to the race itself, but also to experiencing the extensive modifications made to the Daytona International Speedway, as part of the “Daytona Rising” project, under race conditions. The Daytona 24 Hours take the green flag at 14:40 local time on Saturday, 30th January.
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal, BMW Team RLL):
“We are all excited about kicking the season off. Of course the most difficult race of the season is the first race, which 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. 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 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 (Number 25 BMW M6 GTLM):
“A new baby must learn to walk before it can run. However, the BMW 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 I’ve had the honour of racing in the last two decades.”
Dirk Werner (Number 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. This year will certainly be special. BMW is celebrating its 100th anniversary and we will race the new BMW M6 GTLM for the first time. We certainly have some big challenges ahead of us, but with the support of BMW Team RLL and the BMW Motorsport team I think we have a good chance of getting a very good result.”
Augusto Farfus (Number 25 BMW M6 GTLM):
“It’s an honour to be back with BMW Team RLL and be part of the first race with the BMW 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 (Number 25 BMW M6 GTLM):
“This will be the third 24-hour race of my career and my second consecutive Rolex 24 with BMW Team RLL. The BMW 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.”
John Edwards (Number 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 BMW 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, but I know that if we can just survive the first 22 hours of the race, BMW will be fighting for a great result on Sunday afternoon.”
Lucas Luhr (Number 100 BMW M6 GTLM):
“After many months of testing and developing our BMW 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. 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.”
Graham Rahal (Number 100 BMW M6 GTLM):
“I am thrilled to be joining BMW for a third year in a row, and now in the new BMW M6 GTLM. I think they have once again assembled a great team that gives us a good chance of having a successful race.”
Kuno Wittmer (Number 100 BMW M6 GTLM):
“I am really looking forward to my first race for BMW. Everyone on the team has made me feel at home. We have done a lot of extensive testing with the BMW M6 GTLM. The Rolex 24 will, of course, be its first real test. We are obviously a competitive team that wants to win, but patience is always the key in Daytona.”