BMW Team RLL broke through to claim a dramatic GT Le Mans class victory in Saturday’s Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach.
Dirk Werner pedaled his No. 25 BMW Z4 GTE to a 2.911-second win over the No. 62 Risi Competiizone Ferrari F458 Italia of Pierre Kaffer, in a race that had seen a dominant run for the Prancing Horse.
An apparent braking issue, however, saw Kaffer’s lead dwindle in the closing minutes, with the German losing the top spot to Werner with less than 12 minutes to go after locking up his brakes.
It came after a flawless stint for teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, who jumped from third to the lead by the first corner of the opening lap and held that position through the first and only round of pit stops.
Refueling issues for the No. 25 BMW, however, cost Werner more than seven seconds in the pits, dropping the car to third but a late charge by the German saw him claw the ground back up.
It marked the the maiden TUDOR United SportsCar Championship win for the Bavarian manufacturer and its first since the 2013 American Le Mans Series race at Lime Rock Park.
Additionally, the win came on home soil for Auberlen, who hails from nearby Redondo Beach, Calif., marking his and the team’s second Long Beach class win in the last three years.
The No. 3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia retain the championship lead with a third place finish in class, ahead of the No. 911 Porsche North America entry of Frenchmen Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet in fourth.
A late slip-up by Lucas Luhr saw the No. 24 BMW drop to fifth at the end, following what could have been a 1-2 finish for the team given the ill-handling Ferrari.
Contact between the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Richard Lietz and Oliver Gavin’s No. 4 Corvette in the first corner of the opening lap resulted in both cars dropping out of contention after making early stops.
Lietz lost 15 laps with brake and bodywork repairs, while Gavin pitted with a left-front puncture, resulting in 8th and 7th place class finishes, respectively.
The No. 17 Team Falken Tire, which started dead last after opting to change tires, came home sixth in class.
RESULTS: Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase