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BMW TEAM PTG SALVAGES A SEVENTH PLACE FINISH IN GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI
03/07/2005

Two F1 Air-sponsored M3s to Debut
Homestead, Fla. - March 5, 2005... The No. 21 M3 of Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand salvaged a seventh place finish at today's Grand Prix of Miami as BMW Team PTG experienced possibly it's most frustrating race ever. The duo covered 103 laps in the two-hour-and-forty-five-minute contest, finishing two laps behind the winner. As the most experienced M3 drivers on the team, Auberlen and Hand made the most of a bad day. They raced within the top-five for most of the day, but throttle problems in the closing laps of the race made a try for the podium by Auberlen impossible.

While Auberlen and Hand battled, the opening laps of the Grand Prix of Miami were extremely disappointing for the other three BMW Team PTG M3s. Within the first hour of the race the No. 22 M3 retired with mechanical problems and the No. 16 and the No. 17 F1 Air M3s were many laps down after having to stop to repair collision damage.

After reporting problems on lap eight, the No. 22 M3 of Chris Gleason and Ian James was taken to the garage for repairs. Gleason returned to the track for three more laps, but was forced to retire the car on lap 11 with a suspected master cylinder failure. The No. 16 M3 of Justin Marks and Tom Milner was the next to the garage on lap 17 after Marks was hit by a competitor. The resulting repairs of left front suspension damage cost the duo some 16 laps. Milner finished the race in the 18th position. RJ Valentine pitted the No. 17 M3 on lap 23 to turn the car over to Kelly Collins. Only 11 laps later Collins was hit by two Daytona Prototypes and was forced to the garage for repairs. He rejoined the race many laps in arrears. Valentine re-entered the car on lap 57, but ultimately was forced to retire with mechanical problems on lap 71.

At the end of the first hour, only the No. 21 M3 was still on the lead lap. Hand pitted for fuel on lap 22 from the third spot, but a spin on lap 29 dropped him back to 12th. Leading for a short time, he had the No. 21M3 to a solid fourth by lap 57. A caution period on lap 64 and a quick call from the pits brought Hand in for fuel and tires.

He turned the car over to Auberlen who returned to the race in fifth. The 2004 GT Driver Champion moved within striking distance of a possible third place finish when a throttle problem cost him his hard-won track position.

Round three of the Rolex Sports Car Series will take place on April 1-3 at California Speedway, where, in 2004, BMW Team PTG completed their championship winning season with a 1-2 M3 finish.

BILL AUBERLEN, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3: "It was still looking like we were going to be able to salvage a good finish, but we had a throttle problem. A podium finish today may have been in the cards, but it was simply impossible for us to catch the leaders. The only way we will finish higher is if a competitor has some of the problems we had today."

JOEY HAND, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG M3: "I knew we did not have the power of our competitors, but I knew that some of the drivers ahead of me were a little inexperienced. I made my move right away and moved up, but soon I looked like a rookie as I spun in the hairpin. I lost our track position, but kept my head down and regained most of what I had lost."

TOM MILNER, OWNER BMW TEAM PTG : "I think history has shown that PTG prepares a very good BMW M3, but when our drivers have to race them as hard as they can to stay mid-field, there is a real inequality somewhere."

HERNANDO CARVAJAL, BMW OF NORTH AMERICA MOTORSPORTS MANAGER: "Obviously we are disappointed by today's results, as we were looking for a much better finish after Daytona. We tried as hard as we could to recover from bad luck, but it was just impossible."
 
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