The IWSC combines magnificent cars, iconic racetracks, quality drivers and passionate fans. In doing so, it continues a long tradition of sports car racing in the USA and Canada, in which BMW has always played a major role. In 1975, the legendary BMW 3.0 CSL won the 12 Hours of Sebring shortly after the founding of BMW of North America. 2015 marked the 40th anniversary of this success.
In 2017, BMW Team RLL will again be represented by two BMW M6 GTLMs in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC). Bill Auberlen (US) and John Edwards (US) will be the regular drivers from the USA next season. They will be joined by two new team-mates from Europe: in 2017, Auberlen will start alongside Alexander Sims (GB), whose fine performances in this season included overall victory for the ROWE Racing team with the BMW M6 GT3 at the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps (BE). At the wheel of the second BMW M6 GTLM, BMW works driver Martin Tomczyk (DE) will join Edwards for the GTLM class races. The quartet will be supported by DTM drivers Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler, as well as Kuno Wittmer (CA) and Nick Catsburg (NL) for the endurance races on the calendar. Auberlen, Sims, Farfus and Spengler will also share driving duties in the BMW M6 GTLM Art Car for the 24 Hours of Daytona (US) on 28th/29th January 2017, a car designed by US artist John Baldessari.
In the 2016 season, the successful collaboration between BMW Motorsport and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team entered its eighth year. Team principal Bobby Rahal and his BMW Team RLL outfit made their debut in what was at the time the American Le Mans Series back in 2009. Since then, they have won numerous races and five titles in the GT class. BMW Team RLL narrowly missed out on capping the anniversary of BMW of North America in 2015 with more titles. With three races and a host of podiums to its name, it finished runner-up in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer competitions in the GTLM class. The introduction of the BMW M6 GTLM in 2016 opened a new chapter in the history of the BMW works team. The successor of the successful BMW Z4 GTLM model made its debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January.
The team opted for continuity in its driver line-up. The regular crews for the two BMW M6 GTLMs remain unchanged from last year. Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner shared the cockpit of the number 25 car. They were supported at endurance races by BMW DTM drivers Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler. As in 2015, John Edwards and Lucas Luhr were the regular drivers at the wheel of the second car, which bore the number 100 in recognition of BMW’s 100th birthday. They received back-up at endurance races from Graham Rahal and the only new face in the squad, Kuno Wittmer.
The potential of the BMW M6 GTLM was evident from the start of the season. At the 12 Hours of Sebring, the second race of the season, Auberlen, Werner and Spengler finished in second place. A further podium followed in Watkins Glen. Edwards and Luhr in the sister car also had reason to celebrate with their third place. In Road America the duo crossed the finish line in third, in a season that had been difficult thus far.
As well as BMW Team RLL, Turner Motorsport also fielded two BMWs in the IWSC. Team principal Will Turner’s outfit competed with two new BMW M6 GT3s in the GTD class. BMW works driver Jens Klingmann and Bret Curtis contested the entire season in the number 96 BMW M6 GT3. The duo was supported at endurance races by Ashley Freiberg and BMW DTM driver Marco Wittmann. Like the year before, the number 97 car was shared by Michael Marsal and Markus Palttala. They were joined at endurance races by BMW DTM driver Maxime Martin and BMW Motorsport Junior Jesse Krohn. With two wins in Canada and Austin, and a second place in Sebring, the car celebrated a successful debut season.