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      12-01-2017, 03:41 AM   #1
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First US Test of BMW M8 GTE Complete as Bill Auberlen Becomes BMW NA Brand Ambassador

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BMW Team RLL Completes First US Test of BMW M8 GTE; BMW of North America Enhances Driver Lineup as Bill Auberlen Adds New Role as BMW NA Brand Ambassador
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Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – Nov. 30, 2017… This week BMW Team RLL completed the first US test of the BMW M8 GTE at Homestead-Miami Speedway, in Homestead, Fla., in preparation for the upcoming 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The team’s 10th season representing BMW will not only see the debut of a new racing car, but it will also see a change to the driver lineup as Bill Auberlen transitions to a new role in support of BMW of North America’s customer racing program as a BMW NA Brand Ambassador, among other duties. Racing fans will not be disappointed though as Bill will join BMW Team RLL for the four endurance races; Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen and Petit Le Mans.

Auberlen said, “I am honored to have been asked to become a BMW NA Brand Ambassador and look forward to additional opportunities with BMW of North America. First and foremost I am a racing driver and am looking forward to four races with BMW Team RLL in 2018. My goal remains to get to the top of the list in all-time North American sports car victories and I want that achievement to be shared with BMW. We are only three wins away. We have not yet determined what else I may be driving but every opportunity in a BMW racing car is a good one.”

24-year old Connor De Phillippi will join BMW Team RLL and return to living in his native California after being based in Europe for five years and driving first for Porsche in their Junior program and, most recently, with Audi. In the last two seasons he drove for Land Motorsport, co-driving to wins at the Nurburgring 24 and Petit Le Mans (GTD class) in 2017.

“To be part of the BMW family is something I am very proud of,” said De Phillippi. “Driving for BMW Team RLL is quite an achievement for me and I hope I can add to the success of the team next year.”

John Edwards returns for his sixth season with BMW Team RLL in 2018. Since joining the team in 2013 he has scored a total of 15 podium finishes, including three victories.

“The M8 GTE will be the third racing car I will have driven for BMW Team RLL and so far I believe it is the coolest,” said Edwards. “I look forward to continuing the ongoing development of the car and getting its first victory sooner than later.”

Edwards, De Phillippi and Martin Tomczyk were present at the Homestead test. The team will remain in Florida to ready the car for the first IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway on Dec. 5 and 6.

“While I don’t believe it could ever be said that Bill Auberlen was underutilized in his first two decades with BMW NA, we have made a mutual decision to take better advantage of his expertise and now to primarily support our growing customer racing programs in addition to competing with BMW Team RLL in the four IMSA endurance races this season.”, commented BMW NA Motorsport Manager Victor Leleu. “We are delighted that Bill has agreed to become a BMW NA brand ambassador and we fully expect his unbounded enthusiasm for the brand to continue to excite BMW fans with “Bill Power”. We welcome John’s return and are pleased Connor has joined us for 2018. 2017 ended on a very strong note and we believe our success will continue with the M8 GTE.”

Led by Bobby Rahal, BMW Team RLL finished the 2017 IMSA season with four victories including consecutive wins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Petit Le Mans

to close the M6 GTLM program in the biggest way. Since 2009, the team has totaled 17 GT class wins among 68 total podium finishes campaigning the BMW M3, BMW Z4 and BMW M6.

Additional details regarding all BMW Motorsport programs will be released on Dec. 15, 2017 during BMW Motorsport’s annual Season Review banquet.

The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season takes the green flag at the 56th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 28, 2018. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend.

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      12-01-2017, 10:47 AM   #2
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Perfect job for Bill!
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      12-01-2017, 11:49 AM   #3
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Well, they're not exactly benching him. Bill is still going to race in the NAEC races. Sad to see him out of the full time line-up, but it's perfectly understandable. Over 400 race starts! I'm betting he lobbied pretty hard to stay in it for the NAEC races, because they're (BMW/RLL) really close to setting some major milestones for most winning team in North America... er something (can't remember the specifics).

I just hope BMW/RLL can put together a better 1st year run with the M8 GTE than they did with the M6 GTLM. I would expect that they can, considering the similarities between the cars. The jump from the Z4 GTLM to the M6 GTLM was a big upheaval. This should be more of an evolution.

What I really hope for is to see Sims and Tomczyk in the same car. IMO, they represent the top of the talent pool BMW have fielded in North America.
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      12-01-2017, 11:54 AM   #4
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Probably a lot more money for Bill too. win win
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      12-01-2017, 11:54 AM   #5
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Looking forward to seeing them in January!
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      12-01-2017, 11:58 AM   #6
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Mixed emotion. Not many can pick up loose ends and run down competition in a last stint like Bill.
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      12-01-2017, 11:59 AM   #7
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From the front that looks mega pissed off.
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      12-01-2017, 12:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VCP View Post
Mixed emotion. Not many can pick up loose ends and run down competition in a last stint like Bill.
This is where I think Tomczyk can really step in. I can't recall which race it was, but I think it was VIR where he fended of Antonio Garcia for many laps. Garcia gave Tomczyk a pretty solid hit through the esses, but he still hung on to it. Positively heroic.

At Long Beach, the car shutdown on Tomczyk, and he managed to cycle it and get going again on a roll, coming out of the hairpin. He lost places, but to keep the car rolling and do all that was really impressive.

That sealed it for me. Tomczyk/Sims 2018!
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      12-01-2017, 02:26 PM   #9
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they have the cheapy harness lol
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      12-01-2017, 04:29 PM   #10
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I have to say M8 looks much slicker then brick it replaces, i have good feeling about this. ///M Power forever...
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      12-01-2017, 04:31 PM   #11
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Wait, is Alex Sims coming back too?
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      12-01-2017, 06:19 PM   #12
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Such a bummer that Bill isn't racing full time. Talked to him at BMW CCA Ofest last month in New Orleans. So happy he won his 400th and final full time race at Atlanta to end the season. BILL POWER
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      12-01-2017, 06:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 03BeastCharmer View Post
Such a bummer that Bill isn't racing full time. Talked to him at BMW CCA Ofest last month in New Orleans. So happy he won his 400th and final full time race at Atlanta to end the season. BILL POWER
Bill is awesome! I enjoyed watching him twice last year!
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      12-01-2017, 07:13 PM   #14
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Yes I have been to a couple DTM races and he is a very good driver, very consistent. Always pushing hard. I agree he is a great fill for Bill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradleyland View Post
This is where I think Tomczyk can really step in. I can't recall which race it was, but I think it was VIR where he fended of Antonio Garcia for many laps. Garcia gave Tomczyk a pretty solid hit through the esses, but he still hung on to it. Positively heroic.

At Long Beach, the car shutdown on Tomczyk, and he managed to cycle it and get going again on a roll, coming out of the hairpin. He lost places, but to keep the car rolling and do all that was really impressive.

That sealed it for me. Tomczyk/Sims 2018!
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      12-01-2017, 07:17 PM   #15
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Arrow Lena Gercke...

Nothing against Bill... but I think I prefer Lena as my BMW brand ambassador.


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      12-01-2017, 11:13 PM   #16
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The car looks killer! And they will have right guy as the BMW M Brand ambassadors.
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      12-02-2017, 09:07 AM   #17
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That first pic is already my wallpaper

I wish they'd shown a picture of the rear. The diffuser on the GTE is UNREAL.

[IMG]https://i.ytimg.com/vi/1fwf0_jE-bw/maxresdefault.jpg[/IMG]
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      12-03-2017, 02:19 PM   #18
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What would this style of side mirrors be called?
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      12-04-2017, 10:24 AM   #19
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      12-08-2017, 05:12 PM   #20
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I have to admit, as one of my favorite all time drivers and someone who stoked my initial interest in racing way back when, I'm sad to see him turn over the reigns at this point. He's clearly still one of the best drivers on the planet, be it consistency or outright speed.
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      12-11-2017, 12:15 AM   #21
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Figured I'd post a few pics from the test. Taken with my phone so not great quality...
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