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De Phillippi Joins BMW Team RLL; Auberlen Set for NAEC Role

Connor De Phillippi has been named to a full-season seat with BMW Team RLL for 2018…

Photo: BMW

Connor De Phillippi has been named to a full-season seat with BMW Team RLL for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as longtime driver Bill Auberlen will step back to an endurance-only role next year.

The 24-year-old Californian, as predicted by Sportscar365, will join the Bobby Rahal-led organization, alongside the returning John Edwards and Martyn Tomczyk in the pair of new BMW M8 GTE cars.

The team’s fourth full-season driver has yet to be confirmed, although is believed to be Alexander Sims, who starred in his first season in WeatherTech Championship competition this year.

“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.”

De Phillippi, Edwards and Tomczyk completed the M8 GTE’s first U.S. test at Homestead-Miami Speedway this week, with further testing planned at Daytona during the IMSA-sanctioned test, which kicks off on Tuesday.

The 2018 season will mark RLL’s 10th season campaigning factory entries on behalf of BMW.

Auberlen Set for NAEC Role

BMW veteran Auberlen, meanwhile, is set for a reduced program next year, as the 49-year-old focuses on the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup-only races.

Auberlen will also support BMW of North America’s customer racing programs as a brand ambassador. 

“First and foremost I am a racing driver and am looking forward to four races with BMW Team RLL in 2018,” Auberlen said. “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.”

BMW North America Motorsport Manager Victor Leleu added: “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.

“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.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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