Bill Auberlen (USA) and Alexander Sims (GBR) drove the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM to second place in the two-hour forty-minute contest, completing 71 laps of the 3.4-mile track and finishing 2.498 seconds behind the winning number 3 Corvette. John Edwards (USA) and Martin Tomczyk (GER), driving the number 24 BMW M6 GTLM, finished in third place, after a strong run from pole position.
With the benefit of pole position, Edwards led the field from the green flag into the first turn and Sims, from third on the grid, moved up one position to follow his teammate at the front of the field. A scrum developed at the back of the GTLM field and multiple contacts resulted in a couple of competitors effectively being out of the battle for the win.
Sims relinquished second position 34 minutes into the race to the number 911 Porsche after a 14-lap battle. Edwards continued to lead, opening up a 3.2 second gap. The Porsche passed for the lead on lap 22, after which the second yellow flag of the race waved to close up the field with Edwards P2 and Sims P3. Pit stops began on lap 26 as the field circulated behind the safety car with the Porsche and both BMWs coming in. Quick service by the No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM crew got Tomczyk out ahead of the Porsche with Auberlen, now in the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM, right behind. Unfortunately, a pair of rare mis-cues saw Auberlen leave the pits before the fuel man had finished and the Californian was forced back to the pits for a drive-through penalty. Tomczyk and two other competitors missed the illuminated pit exit lights and had to return to serve a stop plus 60-second penalty. The number 3 Corvette had pitted earlier and inherited the GTLM lead with Auberlen, now P2, and Tomczyk, now P4, began their stints.
The second set of stops was completed under the green flag on laps 44 and 45 with Sims back in the number 25 BMW M6 GTLM and Edwards back in the number 24 BMW M6 GTLM to finish the final hour of the race. The third and final caution flag of the race flew with less than ten minutes remaining for a burning prototype car. The track was quickly cleared and the race restarted with some four minutes to go. Sims gave chase, but there was not enough time to catch the Corvette. Ultimately, the result was Sims second and Edwards third and the first two BMW Team RLL podium finishes of the season.
Bill Auberlen (no. 25 BMW M6 GTLM, 2nd place): “It is a long time coming for this game and this car. We have to be very happy for that but the weird thing is that BMW Team RLL is so geared to win, that is the most important goal. When you get second you still want to be on top. However, we have to smile and hold our heads high. We covered two-thirds of the podium just not the top step this weekend.”
Alexander Sims (no. 25 BMW M6 GTLM, 2nd place): “I was happy we were able to come out of turn one P1 and P2, but I had quite a bit of a lock-up and that compromised my first stint quite a bit with a lot of vibration in the front tyre but the car continued to work well. Then there was a little bit of a misunderstanding with the pit release and we got a drive through penalty. We were catching the Corvette at the end, but needed a little bit more of time. In the end, we are happy to have second place and it was great to be standing on the podium for the first time in the U.S.”
John Edwards (no. 24 BMW M6 GTLM, 3rd place): “We’ve been competitive every lap this weekend. It was just a mistake – for each car – that cost us in the race. I am excited for the rest of the season, to race at tracks such as Watkins Glen and Mosport. These two circuits are great for the BMW M6 GTLM and two of my favorite tracks in North America.”
Martin Tomczyk (no. 24 BMW M6 GTLM, 3rd place): “The result could’ve been better, but I made a mistake. I left the pit lane when the exit light was red. I was fighting with the Porsche and he also did not see the red light. But that shouldn’t be an excuse. It was my fault. In the end I think we did the best we could by finishing third, with the sister car in second.”
Photography by Dan Wagener / @dan_wagener
First glance at Mike Ashcraft's 1997 E39 528i and you would never suspect that it has close to 305,000 miles on it. Mike's dad had bought it in 2006 from North Carolina as his new daily to replace his 1983 Mercedes Benz 380 SEL. The car had 113,000 miles on it at that time. His dad put 130,000 more miles on it in about 3 years due to traveling for business. Eventually it got to the point where it became too costly for him to keep piling the miles on it and Mike conveniently had just gotten his license. Since the car wasn’t worth much anyway it became his. His dad ended up buying an E46 330xi to replace it as his new daily.
Over the last 8 years Mike's attended to a lot of maintenance on this car, so much to the point that he can’t even keep track anymore. Most notably though was the top end rebuild that was done at 275k miles due to a leaking head gasket. At the time the head gasket was replaced, all seals in top end were done, S52 cams, new radiator/water pump, and Raceland headers were installed. It has an automatic transmission and as far as Mike knows, the trans/fluid is still original and going strong. The M52 engine is the original as well.
Mike's done quite a bit of modding to this car to make it his own during his ownership. Performance wise as previously mentioned were the S52 cams and headers. This winter he's going to install a Supersprint resonator delete and a Vibrant muffler. Being that it's a high-mileage automatic 528i performance wasn't the highest priority of this car.
Mike focused more on enhancing the aesthetics, and that's what really caught my attention. The E39 M5 front and rear bumpers were swapped on. A Slimmbones carbon fiber front lip and carbon fiber rear diffuser were also added for a little more personalization. Some other minor upgrades included gloss black shadowline trim, DJ auto headlights, clear sidemarkers, euro Hella Celis tail lights, OEM facelift kidney grills, and a trunk lip spoiler.
My favorite thing on Mike's car is probably the wheels. A custom set of 18x9" / 18x10" 3-piece OZ Mito's. Originally being an 18x8.5" 2-piece set, he bought new lips and barrels to fit them exactly how he wanted. The wheel faces are a hand-brushed finish done by Mike himself.
The car is sitting on Broadway Static coilovers with 12k front and 10k rear springs, along with Powergrid adjustable front sway bar endlinks and a 540i RSB w/Beastpower brackets. The stance is low and aggressive without excessive negative camber, dangerous tire stretch, or destroyed fenders.
Mike just finished up the interior makeover this past year. The interior was originally grey and slowly converted to black with ultrasuede headliner, OEM suede sunvisors, black door panels, black carpet, and black lower dash. The rest of the interior upgrades include titanium trim, sunroof delete, silver gauge rings, M5 leather center console, euro M5 leather armrest, M5 dead pedal, Hamann e-brake handle, re-wrapped sport steering wheel, self-dimming rear view mirror, homelink retrofit, Pioneer touch screen headunit, Bav sound speakers, Sound Ordinance subwoofer and a rear view camera. Last but not least, custom dyed Cinnamon seats that compliment the Montreal Blue exterior perfectly.
This car's responsible for teaching Mike how to work on cars and he says he never wants to get rid of it even with the age and miles. His future plans include a 5 speed manual transmission swap with a custom limited slip differential... and the biggest plan is to turbocharge it. Although this won’t be happening anytime soon, especially with his E39 M5 also taking up funds.