Almost 2 years to the day the Turner Motorsport duo, Bill Auberlen and Paul Dalla Lana, captured their second double victory in Grand-Am competition. In 2011 the duo won both the GS class and GT classes at Miami Homestead Speedway. This past weekend the pair experienced a bit of déjà vu as they drove their Turner BMW M3s to class victories in both inaugural races at the highly acclaimed Circuit of the Americas. This victory marks only the third time in Grand-Am history that two drivers won both GT and GS races on the same day.
In the Saturday morning Continental Challenge race Auberlen and Dalla Lana, in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3, won for the first time together in 2013. Auberlen held off a hard-charging Spencer Pumpelly to win in the Turner M3, with the pair changing the lead twice in the final seven minutes. Pumpelly closed to within four-tenths of a second with one lap remaining. Auberlen then was able to take advantage of lapped traffic in Turn 1 to pull away and win by 3.804 seconds.
Bill Auberlen explained, "We tested here in December and that definitely paid off in spades. This place is pretty hard to get your arms around, and we came up with an unusual setup. It's like a road course setup on one side, and an oval track setup on the other. We definitely had an advantage. It was great racing with Spencer (Pumpelly). We were back and forth for the lead at one point, but then Spencer got caught up in traffic and that allowed me to pull away."
In Saturday afternoon's Rolex GT race Auberlen and Dalla Lana came from almost two laps down after an early spin. With Auberlen behind the wheel, and some awesome pit strategy calls by Don Salama, the No. 94 charged to the front of the GT field, passing Andy Lally in the No. 44 Porsche with only seven minutes remaining. The No. 63 Ferrari saw the checkered flag first in the GT class but was assessed a stop- and-go plus 60-second penalty for avoidable contact with Lally with less than 10 minutes left in the race.
"The Ferrari and Andy were battling out up front. I put my head down and pushed. I didn't see what happened with Andy and the Ferrari, but it slowed Lally down and he came back to me. I had a move ready and I put it into action. It got tight ! It was a great win for Turner. This team is good enough to win races, so there's no reason we shouldn't try to win everything we get our hands on," Auberlen said.
The No. 93 M3, driven by Michael Marsal and Gunter Schaldach finished P8, they ran as high as 4th with impressive stints by both Marsal and Schaldach, allowing the pair to secure a strong top-ten finish to mark their first race together.
Team owner Will Turner said, "What a weekend. I never imagined winning both classes again. When we race our goal is always to go for the win, but I didn't see these wins coming. I knew our cars would be strong , I saw that when we tested here, but I thought that in GS the Porsches had us covered. In GT the 63 Ferrari's penalty is really what gave us the win – Wins are tough to get so we will take them anyway we can."
The GRAND-AM of The Americas presented by GAINSCO and TOTAL for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will air at 4 p.m. March 9 on SPEED. Watch for the Turner Motorsport M3s in the next round of Grand-Am competition from Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama on April 6th.
Photo Credit Halston Pitman/MotorsportMedia
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