Auberlen: 23 years with BMW “I wouldn’t trade for anything”

Bill Auberlen was in reflective mood after clinching his record-equaling 60th IMSA victory, along with Robby Foley and Dillon Machavern, when the Turner Motorsport BMW M6 passed the Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 on the final lap of Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans.

Auberlen: 23 years with BMW “I wouldn’t trade for anything”
Listen to this article

A technical infraction in qualifying saw the Turner car sent to the back of the 12-car field of GTD machinery, but Foley swiftly carved through to fourth in the opening stint. He and fellow fulltimer Auberlen – along with endurance race partner Machavern – spent the remainder of the race in contention for the win along with the Riley Mercedes of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating and Felipe Fraga, and the Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 of Christopher Mies, Ricky Feller and Daniel Morad. However, there were also occasional threats, depending on the unpredictability of full-course cautions, from Pfaff Motorsports’ Porsche 911 RSR and the Ferrari 488 of Scuderia Corsa.

In the final-stint shootout, however, the battle came down to Turner vs Riley, Auberlen vs Fraga, and on the last lap, under intense pressure from Auberlen, the Mercedes driver ran wide in the Esses and out of fuel, having made his last stop seven minutes before the BMW.

"I'm so glad BMW still sees I can get it done," said 51-year-old Auberlen. "To tie 60 wins with Scott Pruett – it just shows how great a career BMW has allowed me to have, winning in these BMWs day in and day out. Now to be tied with the most wins in America…

"When you look back, you get to see how many unique wins there have been. When I look at my trophy case and I get to add this to it, all of it is a bunch of great memories. I'll never forget all the joy it brings and the camaraderie. Every single weekend you go to battle with a group of guys who would die for you and you would die for them.

“You come with everything you have, and to get to do that with BMW for 23 years now, it has been a great road that I wouldn't trade for anything. "

Machavern paid tribute, stating: “My stints were fairly uneventful if you can believe that. My job as the third driver here is just to keep everything straight, keep the wheels on it and just cruise around and take it home. It was really exciting to watch Robby cut through the field at the beginning of the race. It really gave me some fire to hop in the car and just go to work. The Turner guys did an amazing job all weekend, the car was absolutely perfect.

“Really this race is all about the man sitting center stage [Auberlen]. Breaking records, that drive at the end… It was unbelievable. You couldn’t have written that any better with the last lap pass. Everything falling into place with the fuel save, the yellow. It was incredible to watch. I’m really happy that the guys at Turner Motorsport let me be the third driver and take part in this awesome experience.” 

The victory lifted the Turner drivers to joint second place in the championship along with Zacharie Robichon of Pfaff Motorsports who finished third in the race sharing the #9 Porsche with Scott Hargrove and Lars Kern.

Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman of Meyer Shank Racing won the GTD title just by starting the race – fortunate, given that their Acura NSX was forced to retire with a holed radiator that caused the engine to overheat.

Explaining Riley Motorsports’ Mercedes running out of fuel, Keating stated: “Because we were racing to the eight-hour mark, we were really short on fuel for the last two hours. We can only go 53 minutes on a tank of fuel, but we decided to risk it and try to make it to the end when a caution came out with 30 minutes to go. We did make it to 10 hours, but still had to go another lap and a half extra because of how the overall leader caught the timing stand. We didn’t have that much fuel. We had enough fuel to get to Turn 5.”

Bill Auberlen, Turner Motorsport.

Bill Auberlen, Turner Motorsport.

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

shares
comments
Bamber/Vanthoor "chemistry" key to GTLM title
Previous article

Bamber/Vanthoor "chemistry" key to GTLM title

Next article

Former Mazda boss Doonan named IMSA President

Former Mazda boss Doonan named IMSA President
Load comments
The British pair at the heart of Lexus's sportscar push Prime

The British pair at the heart of Lexus's sportscar push

Have you heard the one about two British guys driving for a Japanese manufacturer in America’s top sportscar series? Time to sit down and talk with Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat about racing across the pond… and your accent being mistaken for Australian!

IMSA
Mar 16, 2022
Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022 Prime

Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022

Ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of its new 9X8 Hypercar, Peugeot revealed that it would not be entering this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with its incoming machinery. Although development restrictions for homologated cars are partially responsible, the French marque can draw on its own lessons from its history in sportscars

WEC
Feb 28, 2022
Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC Prime

Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC

OPINION: The adoption by IMSA of the GTP name for its forthcoming LMDh versus Le Mans Hypercar era in 2023 appeals to fans of nostalgia - but it undermines the commonality achieved by bringing its rulebook into line with the WEC. GTP or Hypercar, both sides should settle on a single name

WEC
Feb 15, 2022
Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing Prime

Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing

Few disciplines of motorsport offer better possibilities to build a colossus of the track than sportscars. For Autosport's recent Monsters of Motorsport special issue, we picked out some of the finest (and not so fine) that have graced sportscar classics including Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring

Le Mans
Feb 4, 2022
How Castroneves and Meyer Shank conquered another US classic Prime

How Castroneves and Meyer Shank conquered another US classic

Helio Castroneves continued his fine start to life with Meyer Shank Racing that netted the 2021 Indianapolis 500 victory by prevailing in last weekend's Daytona 24 Hours together with teammates Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis and Simon Pagenaud. As Cadillac fell by the wayside, the Brazilian veteran won out in an all-Acura duel to the finish

IMSA
Feb 1, 2022
How Derani's long road to title success exorcised painful memories Prime

How Derani's long road to title success exorcised painful memories

It took Pipo Derani no time at all to establish himself as a winner in IMSA, winning the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours on his first two starts in 2016. But it took until the final corner of the 2021 season before he could become its champion, the culmination of a journey that he believes has made him a better driver.

IMSA
Jan 16, 2022
The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence Prime

The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence

Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy Prime

Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy

Can Mazda win this year’s IMSA Prototype championship? Undoubtedly. But it will be the culmination of an achingly hard struggle, after which the brand has decided to quit. David Malsher-Lopez tells the story of a bizarre blend of heartache and positivity.

IMSA
Apr 6, 2021