Anne Proffit photo from Long BeachEnlarge Photo
The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) reigning GT Team and Manufacturers champions - for two straight years - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (BMW Team RLL) is returning to ALMS competition to try for a third consecutive title in 2012, using a team of experienced drivers.
Retaining reigning GT drivers' champions Dirk Muller and Joey Hand (the latter will also compete in DTM this year for BMW), BMW Team RLL also has veteran Bill Auberlen and newcomers Jorg Muller and Uwe Alzen on the squad. A sixth driver for the endurance events will be announced at a later date.
With Hand, winner last year at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in a BMW/Riley and at Sebring with BMW Team RLL in ALMS GT also racing in the DTM, the American ace will defer to his DTM duties in schedule conflicts, the team said. Alzen will work with the team at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, the season starter and help the team close out its season at Petit Le Mans.
Hand is already looking forward to the daunting demands of his 2012 schedule. "To win a title is one thing, but to defend it is perhaps even more difficult. BMW Team RLL has what it takes to maintain the immensely high standards it set last year and the fact that I will also be racing in the DTM gives me additional motivation," he said.
The Bobby Rahal-led team is in its fourth season racing BMW's M3 GT in the ALMS. "We are proud to start our mission to defend the titles in the American Le Mans Series together with BMW," Rahal said. It is our fourth season with the BMW M3 GT and, with the 2011 titles behind us, everyone in the team is more motivated than ever. As always," he noted, "we worked hard to improve even further during the winter months.
"The opposition will certainly not make it easy for us," Rahal continued. "However, we are well prepared. The teaming of Dirk Muller, Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen has been very successful in recent years and I am delighted that they will also be racing with us in 2012. Jorg Muller has already won the ALMS Drivers championship (2001) and he and Uwe Alzen will strengthen our team."
Jens Marquardt, BMW motorsports director added, "We line up with the BMW M3 GT against the strong competition in this thrilling championship for the fourth time. Our goal is obviously to successfully defend the titles. I am certain that ALMS fans can look forward to more thrilling races in 2012."
The BMW Team RLL takes part in the pre-season test the first week of February prior to the season start - a 60th anniversary celebratory 12 Hours of Sebring