Turner Motorsports and BMW Results from Mid-Ohio ** SPOILERS **
The Turner team resurrects a damaged BMW M6 to win its first race of a new series
Drivers Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen combined brilliantly Saturday to give the Turner Motorsport BMW M6 its first victory in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car series, as well as to give BMW its first win in the series since 2005. This victory was especially sweet, as it came on what was only the teams sixth race start as a newcomer in the production-based GT class. The win also proved redemption from a disappointing weekend at Watkins Glen, where substantial damage sustained during practice rendered the M6 out of the race.
"I have to hand it to the Turner Crew," said team owner and manager Will Turner. “They were able to completely rebuild the #94 M6 in time for Mid-Ohio. Not only did they rebuild it in time, they managed to make it better than ever and give Bill and Joey a winning car today. We knew we had our work cut out for us for this weekend’s race, and the team definitely rose to the occasion.”
Turner’s driver line-up consisted of veteran factory BMW Motorsport drivers Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen. Hand posted the second fastest lap during Friday’s qualifying session with a time of 1:24:253, just one tenth of a second behind the pole winner. This fast qualifying gave the #94 BMW M6 a prime front-row starting position. It would also mark the best qualifying performance for a BMW in the GT class to date.
Saturday's race start fell some two days shy of the official start of Summer, but nonetheless, a scorching hot Summer heat descended upon the Ohio race track anyways. Heat would play a major factory both outside and inside the cars.
Hand would start the race from his earned position 2, become race leader by lap 3, and crank out lap after lap out in front of the pack in the intense heat. Cockpit temperatures in the M6 soared as high as 150 degrees F, making the 2 hour and 45 minute even an excruciating test of physical endurance. Hand would pit during a full course caution to turn the BMW M6 over to his veteran BMW and Turner Motorsport co-driver Bill Auberlen. A smooth pit stop and driver change put Auberlen back out within reach the leaders, where he would work his way back to the front and grind out more fast and “hot” laps. After several successful mini-battles for position and 16 laps leading the race, Auberlen would make the final pit stop to pass the driving duties back to his teammate, Joey Hand. Hand made a bold move on the race leading Mazda which paid off and put him back into the lead. He would hold the lead the remaining 17 laps of the race and receive the checkered flag.
This is the first win for both Turner Motorsport and BMW in the GT class, and the 204th professional race start for the Turner Motorsport team. The win relied heavily on the BMW’s reliability and consistency, combined with Joey and Bill’s wealth of Mid-Ohio racing experience. The first-place finish was made possible with the support of the team’s race partners and sponsors, Northwest, StopTech brakes, Pagid brake pads, Borla Exhaust, MOTUL lubricants, H&R Springs and Forgeline Wheels.
With 5 races to go, the #94 Turner Motorsport M6 is currently sitting in 8th place in points, and remains in contention of the championship. The next stop for Turner Motorsport and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is at Daytona International Speedway, and can be viewed live on SPEED TV at 11 am ET (8am PT) on Saturday July 3.