Dunlop and BMW race toward ALMS tire championship
With only one race remaining in the 2011 season, BMW Team RLL is well within reach of securing Dunlop’s first-ever GT class tire manufacturer championship in the American Le Mans Series.
Although the team’s outstanding performance this season has already earned enough points to take home both the team and driver titles in the GT class, there are still championships up for grabs during the running of the 14th annual Petit Le Mans this weekend in Atlanta.
In hopes of a championship sweep, BMW Team RLL has set its sights on winning the tire manufacturer championship for Dunlop, as well as a second consecutive auto manufacturer title for BMW.
“We’re extremely pleased to have clinched the driver and team championships, but there is more work to be done to win championships for BMW and Dunlop,” said Bobby Rahal, team principal.
Headed into the season finale at Petit Le Mans, Dunlop is tied with Michelin for the GT tire manufacturer title at 154 points each. With both tiremakers neck-and-neck, a strong podium finish from one of BMW Team RLL’s M3 GTs could be enough to take home the championship. Other tire manufacturers competing in the GT class include Falken (77 points) and Yokohama (36 points). In the auto manufacturer contest, BMW has a 22-point lead over the second place manufacturer, Porsche.
“It feels great to have two championships wrapped up before Petit Le Mans. When we won Sebring this year I thought that this would be our year,” said Joey Hand, driver of the No. 56 BMW M3 GT. “It took a lot of hard work and with the help of BMW Motorsport, BMW of North America, RLL and Dunlop we are almost there.”
In the Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) class, the No. 16 Dyson Lola-Mazda of Guy Smith and Chris Dyson has already helped Dunlop take home the LMP1 tire manufacturer championship. The team also clinched the driver and team championships in the LMP1 class.
The 10-hour, 1000-mile season finale at Road Atlanta is scheduled to take the green flag at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday, Oct. 1. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com, and a two-hour highlights show will be broadcast on ABC television at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 2.