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Old 01-30-2006, 02:10 PM   #1
tim330i
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BMW Team PTG Names M3 Drivers For 2006 American Le Mans Series

BILL AUBERLEN, JOEY HAND AND JUSTIN MARKS NAMED AS BMW TEAM PTG M3 DRIVERS FOR 2006 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES

Team Completes Successful Winter Test
Woodcliff Lake, N J - January 26, 2006... BMW of North America, LLC and BMW Team PTG jointly announced today that Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand and Justin Marks have been contracted to drive for BMW Team PTG in the 2006 American Le Mans Series. A fourth team driver and additional drivers for the longer races will be named at a later date.

All three drove for the team last season and posted victories in a BMW Team PTG M3. 50 days remain until the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring where BMW Team PTG will mark its first full season of ALMS competition since 2001. BMW Team PTG has scored two GT class wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1997 and 1998.

The team recently concluded this week's three day Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway with very good results. Completing more than 425 laps around the 3.7-mile circuit over the three days, the team tested more than 50 sets of Yokohama tires as the two companies renewed the relationship that began in 1995 and has seen many victories since. Bill Auberlen, driving the No. 21 M3, set the second fastest GT2 time of the test, recording a 2:03.335 minute lap.

Auberlen begins his 10th season driving for BMW, having made his first start with BMW Team PTG in 1996. A native Californian, Auberlen currently resides in Redondo Beach, Calif., but one could say that he is most at home in a BMW M3. The most successful North American BMW M3 driver, he has been part of more than 50% of the team's 53 sports car racing victories, recording 27 wins in a BMW Team PTG M3 - including the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring in both 1997 and 1998.

Auberlen said, "My best years in racing have been with BMW in the American Le Mans Series, and I'm absolutely thrilled to go back with BMW Team PTG and my teammates to compete at the highest level of sports-car racing."

Joey Hand, of Sacramento, Calif., begins his third season with BMW Team PTG. Winning four races last year; Hand was the top-finishing (fourth) BMW Team PTG driver in Rolex Sports Car Series GT Driver Points. A top karter and open-wheel racer, Hand first came to the attention of PTG boss Tom Milner in 2000 in a BMW test with BMW Team PTG after capturing the 1999 Formula Mazda Pro Series Championship. Hand spent three years in the Toyota Atlantic Championship before joining BMW Team PTG in 2004.

Hand said, "I'm very happy to be back with BMW again this season. It is all-new for me to race a GT car in the ALMS and I am really looking forward to it. In ALMS trim the M3 truly looks the business and it feels like the entire team is ready for this new challenge."

Justin Marks, of Sacramento, Calif., has driven for BMW Team PTG since 2003. He tallied three Rolex Series GT class wins last season, including sharing PTG's record 50th sports car racing victory with Hand at the Paul Revere 250 in July. An excellent qualifier, Marks scored three consecutive poles in the middle of last season as BMW Team PTG raced to seven wins in 13 races entered.

Marks said, "Since beginning my sports car racing career in 2001 one of my goals was to race in the ALMS. To be able to do it in a BMW Team PTG M3 makes it even sweeter."

In anticipation of needing additional drivers for the season's two endurance races, the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring in March and the Petit Le Mans in September, BMW Team PTG gave two young drivers an opportunity to test during the Winter Test. Martin Jensen, (26), of Denmark and Graham Rahal, (17), of Columbus, Ohio, each spent time in the cars. 2005 BMW Team PTG driver Ian James was also on hand and drove a number of laps.

Background:
2006 marks the 11th season of competition for BMW M3s of BMW Team PTG. In 10 seasons BMW Team PTG has won a total of 53 races in both sprint and endurance racing series and 14 sports car racing championships. In 2005, BMW Team PTG won 7 of 13 Rolex Sports Car Series races entered.
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