The BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team was able to celebrate a podium finish on only the second outing for the new BMW M3 after Tommy Milner and Dirk Muller finished second in the GT2 class at St Petersburg.
The result marked the first finish for the car after a disappointing debut at Sebring, although things again didn't go to plan for Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand after the #90 car was retired after it failed to restart at its first pit-stop.
In the sister car, Milner ran inside the top six during his opening stint and had moved the #92 M3 into third before pitting on lap 35. Muller returned to the race in fourth, but was soon back in a podium position as the race slowed for the only caution period of the day just before the one hour mark.
One lap before the restart, Muller pitted to tighten a loosening suspension bolt, which dropped him down to fourth place, but stormed back through to take a fine second place at a circuit where the BMW was expected to run strongly.
“What a thrilling day to realise the first podium for BMW Rahal Letterman Racing
Team!” Muller said. “Tommy did a great first stint. He was driving like a machine, with a great machine below him. We had to make a safety check and dropped to P4 or 5. It was a great fight back to second. I enjoyed racing my last year's team-mate. It was as if I could read his mind at every moment and that was an advantage.
Dunlop gave me a perfect tyre. It was a different compound than Tommy was using because of the heat we had on the track. It was absolutely awesome, so the corners were really so much fun. Congratulations to the team for a well-deserved second place.”
Team boss Bobby Rahal was also happy with the result and said he was hopeful of more strong showings when the series heads to Long Beach for round three.
“I am very pleased for BMW and the team,” he said. “All the hard work from BMW Motorsport, BMW of North America, and Dunlop really paid off today. While we are disappointed that the #90 didn't finish, we look forward to Long Beach and our continuing improvement.”