The Rahal Letterman Racing team endured a troubled start to life with its new GT2-spec BMW M3s after both cars were forced out of their debut race in the Sebring Twelve Hours.
Problems for the team started early on when the #90 car of Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand was pushed from the grid after suffering an electrical problem prior to the start. The car would eventually join the race after an hour but managed just 27 laps before Hand pitted with an oil leak that couldn't be repaired and the car was forced into retirement.
It left the sister car, in the hands of Dirk Muller and Tom Milner, to uphold honours and the #92 ran as high as second place before the car pitted just after the five hour mark and then refused to leave the pits – putting the second car into retirement as well.
“Sebring bettered us today, but it will definitely make us better,” Martin Birkmann, BMW of North America Motorsports Manager, said. “Strategy, consistency and reliability are the keys to success here and it's hard for a new car to be perfectly reliable. We know all BMW fans share our disappointment and we thank everyone who came out to cheer us on and be part of our return to the ALMS.
“Sebring is a big race, but BMW did not return for only one race. We came back for the season and are looking forward to round two.”
Team boss Bobby Rahal admitted there was disappointment with the result, but said the focus of the team was already turned to the next race in St Petersburg as it looks forward, not back.
“For almost half the race we put on a good show for all the BMW fans here at Sebring,” he said. “To run as high as second, and for a number of hours, in our debut race is a very good sign and a testament to the team we have put together. Yes, we are disappointed, but on to St Pete. Focus forward.”