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Mid-Ohio’s Home Course Advantage Pays Off For BMW Team RLL

2018 Mid-Ohio Acura Sports Car Championship 2nd Place GTLM Class winners; Conner De Phillippi and Alexander Sims.  Image Credit: copyright 2018 BMW Group USA

Mid-Ohio's Home Course Advantage Pays Off For BMW Team RLL
Words By: Brandon J. O'Brien
Image Credits: 2018 BMW Group USA unless otherwise specified

After a disappointing showing at the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach, BMW Team RLL was able to qualify on the GTLM pole for the Acura Sports Car Championship at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

John Edwards was able to post a qualifying time of 1:17.853 minute in the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE while his team-mate, Alexander Sims, driving the No. 25 BMW GTE secured a third place starting position with a 1:17.932 minute lap.

The GTLM Class Pole Sitting BMW M8 GTE at Mid-Ohio.  Image Credit: copyright 2018 BMW Group USA

Team Principal, Bobby Rahal said, "This is certainly a nice turnaround from Long Beach, isn't it? I think both cars are working really well on the Michelins but it is going to be very close tomorrow and we cannot relax."

Unfortunately, on the opening lap Edwards got held up and forced off track when Robert Alon spun his LPM2 Oreca prototype.  Both Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber took advantage and moved their Porsche 911's into 1st and 2nd.

Up to the first pit-stops Alexander Sims maintained 3rd Place for the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE. Conner De Phillippi took over and re-entered the race in sixth just ahead of the No. 24 sister car driven by Jesse Krohn.  De Phillippi did a long middle-stint that allowed him to cycle up to the head of the GTLM pack.  When he pitted for a second time he lost the lead to Laurens Vanthoor's No. 912 Porsche but was able to re-enter the foray just ahead of Richard Westbrook's No. 67 Ford GT, closely followed by Jan Magnussen's No. 3 Corvette C7.R and Joey Hand's No. 66 Ford GT.

The 2nd Place finishing GTLM BMW M8 GTE at Mid-Ohio.  Image Credit: copyright 2018 BMW Group USA

De Phillippi was able to easily stay ahead of this trio and focused on closing the gap to first. With 10 minutes remaining he had successfully closed the gap to 1.5 seconds but was not able to consummate a pass for the lead in the remaining time.

This is what Bobby Rahal had to say after the finish, "For sure it was a good day for us. Connor and Alexander did a super job. We got bogged down in traffic and decided to run long with their car. Our second pit stop was faster because we did not have to put so much fuel in and we could put soft Michelin tires on. Everyone else had twenty more laps on their tires and I think that and the lighter fuel load is really what made the difference. Connor ended up in the seat and drove very well. I feel bad for John and Jesse. They got stuck in a fuel window and we really could not do too much with it. A shame really but after Long Beach where we were uncompetitive, it feels good.”

Unlike Long Beach, the GTD cars were racing along with the Prototype and GTLM cars.  BMW NA Ambassador Bill Auberlen co-drove the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 with Dillon Machavern.  Machavern started the car in the fifth GTD starting spot and Bill Auberlen finished the race in 6th position.

The top three by class for the first race at Mid-Ohio since 2012 were;

1st - Acura DPi No. 7 co-driven by Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor
2nd - Acura DPi No. 6 co-driven by Juan Pablo Montoya and Dave Cameron
3rd - Mazda DPi No. 77 co-driven by Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez

The overall race winning No. 7 Acura DPi as seen at Long Beach.  Image Credit: copyright 2018 Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

1st - Porsche 911 RSR No. 912 co-driven by Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor
2nd - BMW M8 GTE No. 25 co-driven by Alexander Sims and Conner De Phillippi
3rd - Corvette C7.R No. 3 co-driven by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia

The GTLM race winning Porsche 911 RSR as seen at Long Beach.  Image Credit: copyright 2018 Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

1st - Lexus RC F GT3 No. 14 co-driven by Kyle Marcelli and Dominik Baumann
2nd - Acura NSX GT3 No. 86 co-driven by Alvaro Parente and Katherine Legge
3rd - Lamborghini Huracan GT3 No. 48 co-driven by Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow

Also participating at the Mid-Ohio weekend was the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series which took to the track on Saturday for the Mid-Ohio 120. BMW participates in this series in the Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) Classes.  The No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4 co-driven by Tyler Cooke and James Clay was able to achieve a podium finish behind two Ford Mustang GT4's.  In ST Class,  Nick Galante and Devin Jones were able to race to a 3rd Place in Class in their No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i behind two Mini's.

BMW file photo of the No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing M4 GT4.  Image Credit: copyright 2018 BMW Group USA.

BMW file photo of the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing 328i.  Image Credit: copyright 2018 BMW Group USA

The next IMSA WeatherTech race will take place on Sunday June 2nd at Detroit's Belle Isle Park Raceway.  

The next IMSA Continental SportsCar Challenge be on the weekend of June 30 - July 1 at Watkins Glen for the "Continental 240 At The Glen".

TAGS:  Acura DPi, Acura NSX GT3, Alexander Sims, Bill Auberlen, BimmerWorld Racing, BMW, BMW M8 GTE, BMW M6 GT3, BMW M4 GT4, BMW 328i, BMW Team RLL, Chevrolet C7.R, Conner De Phillippi, Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge  Earl Bamber, Helio Castroneves, Jesse Krohn, Joey Hand, John Edwards, Juan Pablo Mantoya, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Laurens Vanthoor, Lexus RC F GT3, Mazda DPi, Nick Tandy, Porsche 911 RSR, Ricky Taylor, @The_EDJE