Lexington, Ohio - August 27, 2005... The No. 21 BMW Team PTG F1 Air M3 of RJ Valentine, Kelly Collins and Tom Milner drove from the last starting position to take the GT class victory in today's Emco Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In winning BMW Team PTG's sixth race of the season, Collins and Milner (Valentine did not drive) completed 91 laps of the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit, finishing five seconds ahead of the second place Pontiac. While the No. 21 M3 enjoyed an excellent day after having to relinquish its fourth starting position following post-qualifying inspection, the two other M3s ran into their share of bad luck in the second hour of today's race.
With Ian James behind the wheel, the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 he would share with Chris Gleason and Bill Auberlen led the first hour of the race. An incident with a Daytona Prototype car on lap 56 during Gleason's stint cost the trio three laps while a broken right front steering arm was repaired. Auberlen drove the final 20 laps of the race, finishing seventh. The No. 16 BMW Team PTG M3 of Justin Marks and Joey Hand experienced electrical problems on lap 34 and had to be brought to the garage for repairs. It was a disappointing day for the two young drivers as Hand took over from polesitter Marks after repairs, ultimately finishing 15 laps down to the No. 21 M3 and dropping out of the top-five in Driver Points.
A yellow flag on the very first lap of the race set the tone for the first hour of the race as an additional two caution periods slowed the pace of the contest, allowing only 30 laps to be completed in the opening sixty minutes. James and Marks paced the field for the first hour, but problems developed with the No. 22 and 16 M3s. Milner took over for Collins in the No. 21 M3 on lap 40 after the experienced veteran had come from last to fifth place.
The race was not decided until the final 20 minutes as Milner raced in third place with Auberlen in the No. 22 M3 in 13th and Hand, in the No. 16 M3 16th. With 10 laps remaining the leading No. 64 Pontiac fell victim to a suspension problem and the second place Pontiac pitted for fuel during a caution period. As the race went green, Milner took over the lead and held on for the final eight laps.
Round 11 of the Rolex Sports Car Series, the Phoenix 250 will take place on Sept. 8 - 10 at Phoenix International Raceway.
KELLY COLLINS, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG F1 AIR M3 (first): "We got yellow flag after yellow flag early in the race and that allowed me to pick off one car after another. At the end an hour and a half we were in fifth place. Tom did a fantastic job to bring it home for us. In a very generous move for the team, RJ declined to get in as an extra pit stop could have cost us the win.
TOM MILNER, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG F1 AIR M3 (first): "I knew it would be very difficult to catch the No. 64 car at the end because we had lost so much track position. I kept focused on running quick, clean laps - hoping we would get lucky. We did, but we had raced hard all day to be in a position to take advantage of those breaks. "
RJ VALENTINE, DRIVER NO. 21 BMW TEAM PTG F1 AIR M3 (first): "Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to contribute in the race, but my teammates carried the day. For me, this is an entire team effort and I am proud to be part of it."
TOM MILNER, OWNER BMW TEAM PTG: "Certainly the odds were against us today. We were not the fastest car, but we raced hard and won our sixth of the year for BMW. Kelly got us into the top-five and Tom drove the fastest he had all weekend to seal the victory. I am very proud of everyone's effort today."
LARRY KOCH, BMW OF NORTH AMERICA M BRAND AND MOTORSPORTS MANAGER: "We had couple of tough breaks today with the No. 22 and 16 M3s, but BMW Team PTG always seems to find a way to race the M3 to the top of the podium - even if there is only one left with a chance to win. At one point, the No. 21 M3 was almost one lap down to the leaders, but they got it done. Win number 52 of our BMW M3 racing program is a testament to why BMW Team PTG is the best."