• BMW Team RLL braces for title defense

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    BMW Team RLL faces a formidable challenge from teams running Chevrolet Corvettes and Porsche 911s, among others, at Laguna Seca, California on Monday. IMSA.COM

    BMW Team RLL faces a formidable challenge from teams running Chevrolet Corvettes and Porsche 911s, among others, at Laguna Seca, California on Monday. IMSA.COM

    WHILE they will have new BMWs, John Edwards and Lucas Luhr will compete in a different race format when they defend their GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victory for BMW Team RLL in the fourth round of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship sanctioned by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA).

    The fourth race of the IMSA-sanctioned series is called Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda and will run at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California on Monday.

    The race will see the GTLM class paired with the Prototype class in a two-hour race in the morning, while the Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) competitors take the green flag in the afternoon.

    After winning last year’s event with all four classes competing simultaneously in the No. 24 BMW Z4 GTLM, Edwards and Luhr return in the No. 100 IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GTLM, joining Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner in the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM on the two-car team.

    “We are returning to the site of our last win, and this weekend is always an enjoyable one,” Edwards said. “It’s been a tough start to the season, but I don’t see any way we could have any more bad luck the rest of the year. I think Laguna Seca’s configuration will suit the M6 much better than the last two races, so we have an opportunity to repeat our win. We’ll be pushing hard for it as usual, but especially after our unlucky start to the season.”

    After a second place finish in the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach, Corvette Racing is looking to regain its race-winning momentum. Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin won the opening two races of 2016, the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R to forge an 18-point lead in the standings. Corvette Racing also fields the No. 3 Corvette for Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, second-place finishers in the Rolex 24.

    Porsche North America’s No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Frederic Makowiecki and Earl Bamber is tied with the No. 25 BMW for second in the GTLM standings. Patrick Pilet is the defending GTLM champion, and is currently fifth in the standings with his No. 911 co-driver Nick Tandy. Pilet and Tandy won the GTLM class at Long Beach.

    Ford Chip Ganassi Racing is coming off the best showing of its new Ford GT, with Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe finishing fourth at Long Beach. Westbrook is the 2015 overall winner at Mazda Raceway, capturing last year’s race in a Corvette DP. Sacramento driver Joey Hand and Dirk Muller pilot the team’s No. 66 Ford GT.

    Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander are coming off a podium finish at Long Beach to lead the two-car Ferrari entry in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE. Fisichella finished fourth for the team at Mazda Raceway in 2015. Scuderia Corsa will field the No. 68 Ferrari 488 GTE for Daniel Serra and Alessandro Pier Guidi.

    THE TIMES

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