Bill Auberlen in the #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 that he shared with Robby Foley, running a strong second at the time, came to a stop on the track just ten minutes before the end of the one-hour-forty-minute IMSA race on the Belle Isle circuit in Detroit on June 12.
Before the car stopped with what turned out to be a transmission problem, it had been a front runner, running third in GTD when Foley made an early stop at the thirty-minute mark in the race to hand off to Auberlen. Auberlen found his way into second behind the #39 Audi driven by Richard Heistand and Jeff Westphal. Westphal was able to keep Auberlen at bay, while Ross Gunn in the #23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 that he shared with Roman De Angelis ran a close third to the #96 BMW. But even though the Aston was running on fresher tires, having changed all four on its pit stop while the Turner team had changed none, Auberlen was able to hold on to second.
The #96 car’s charge ended when the transmission problem emerged with ten minutes remaining, bringing out a full-course yellow. The track went back to green with just three minutes left. The Audi won on the circuit, with the Aston second. The BMW was classified ninth. But a post-race ruling that the Audi had not met by the minimum refueling time moved it to last in the standings and gave the win to Gunn and De Angelis. Auberlen and Foley were moved up to eighth.
The overall win went to Renger Van Der Zande and Kevin Magnussen in the #01 Cadillac DPi Prototype. The GTLM class drew only the two Corvettes; Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy won the class in car #4.
BMW Team RLL is running only the season’s four long enduros. It will return to GTLM competition in IMSA’s next race, the six-hours of Watkins Glen, on the weekend of June 24–27.—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW Motorsport.]