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Old 06-10-2010, 03:20 PM   #1
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Team BMW Motorsport Gearing up for 24-hour Race in Le Mans

This weekend Team BMW Motorsport will line up at the 24-hour race in Le Mans (FR) with two BMW M3 GT2 racing cars. Having achieved promising results in the Le Mans Series, Team Manager Charly Lamm's squad now has its sights set on another good result in the LM GT2 category at the highlight of the season. BMW treats the fans in Le Mans with a special highlight: the 17th BMW Art Car.

The competition is tough: 17 cars will start in this class for the 78th running of the race at the "Circuit de la Sarthe". BMW is hoping this year the BMW M3 GT2 will challenge the traditional top dogs, Ferrari and Porsche. Another newcomer will line up in 2010 in the form of Jaguar. The competition from Aston Martin, Corvette and Spyker is also destined to make the GT2 class more exciting than last year, when nine of the top ten cars were Ferraris. Rarely has the field in the LM GT2 category been as strong as it is this year.

Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR) and Uwe Alzen (DE) will alternate at the wheel of the no. 78 BMW M3 GT2, while the BMW M3 GT2 Art Car (no. 79) will be driven by Dirk Werner (DE), Dirk Müller (DE) and Andy Priaulx (GB).

Jörg Müller (Car Number 78):
"I have started a few times in Le Mans but never in the GT2 class, so I'm looking forward to the challenges that await me this weekend. I remember the race in 1999 very well. It was very disappointing to drop out while leading. However, we still had reason to celebrate when our team-mates claimed victory with the BMW V12 LMR."

Augusto Farfus (Car Number 78):
"While the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is probably the toughest circuit in the world, Le Mans is probably the most famous. Even when I was driving karts I dreamed of appearing here. Now that time has arrived. Of course I am hoping to find my feet quickly and contribute towards the success of the team. It was unbelievable to win with my team-mates at the Nürburgring. Now we are determined to get another good result in Le Mans."

Uwe Alzen (Car Number 78):
"The Le Mans 24 Hours is a very special event. I finished as runner-up alongside Jörg Müller back in 1998, so I know exactly what awaits us there. The circuit is absolutely captivating and a real challenge. You really have to watch out for the fast prototypes in order to avoid precarious situations when overtaking. It will be an exciting week."

Dirk Werner (Car Number 79):
"The history of this race alone gives it a special appeal. The long straights and subsequent braking zones are definitely features that demand special attention, both when setting the car up and when driving the circuit. The fact that a large part of the race track is usually just a normal road is special. In my opinion, Le Mans is the biggest and most breathtaking race in the world. I am also looking forward to taking to the track in the BMW Art Car. That will be a real treat."

Andy Priaulx (Car Number 79):
"Le Mans is one of the biggest races in the world. It is a great experience for any driver to race there. I find our BMW racing cars aesthetically pleasing anyway, but the result of Jeff Koons' work on the BMW M3 GT2 Art Car is just incredible. We will also do our best to make it a successful return for the Art Cars to Le Mans from a sporting angle."

Dirk Müller (Car Number 79):
"The circuit in Le Mans has a very different character to the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. Top speed is crucial on the long straights, and you must hit the braking points for the chicanes precisely. You have to have a high level of concentration, particularly during the night, in order to avoid any risks. When it comes to the prestige of the event, Le Mans is in a class of its own. The flair is unique. It is a great honour for me to compete here in the BMW M3 GT2 Art Car."

** Update - Friday June 11th **

This year, BMW faces the challenge of Le Mans (FR) for the first time since its victory there in 1999. For Mario Theissen, the 24-hour race eleven years ago was the first major assignment as BMW Motorsport Director. For that reason, the triumph with the BMW V12 LMR remains very important for him, as Theissen reveals in this interview.

Mr Theissen, how has Le Mans changed since 1999?
Mario Theissen: "It goes without saying that the Le Mans 24 Hours has developed significantly in the past few years. The ACO has managed to implement new ideas, while still preserving the unique atmosphere at this event. When you see how many fans are here at the circuit on Friday, although no driving actually takes place, it just shows the appeal of the Le Mans 24 Hours. That was the case when we won with the BMW V12 LMR in 1999, and it remains so today."

How has the race weekend gone so far for BMW?
Theissen: "First we need to consider that we are not running the same car here that won at the Nürburgring. Due to the regulations we had to do several modifications to the BMW M3 GT2. Therefore we are still lacking experience with the car in this specification and had to use the practice and qualifying sessions as tests. On Wednesday we were significantly behind the leaders in the LM GT2 class. After this, our team worked intensively on the set-up of the two BMW M3 GT2 cars and made a lot of changes, which have paid off. Furthermore, our drivers are feeling more and more at home. Three of them have never raced in Le Mans before. Our learning curve is a steep one. We are confident that we will be competitive in the race."

Who is the toughest rival in the LM GT2 category?
Theissen: "This class is extraordinarily strong. Whether Porsche, Ferrari or Corvette: there are many candidates who have the potential to win this race. The priority for all the cars is first and foremost to last the full 24 hours. There are bound to be incidents - and it is important not to be involved when they occur. For us, a podium position would definitely be a great success. After all, this is our first appearance in Le Mans for a long time."

Are you pleased that the BMW Art Car is so well received by the fans?
Theissen: "Yes, but I am not surprised. BMW Art Cars have a long tradition in Le Mans. The motorsport-mad spectators remember this well. Furthermore, Jeff Koons' design has been sensationally successful and is very well suited to the dynamic image of the BMW M3 GT2. Everyone finds this combination of racing and art fascinating."
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