TUDOR Championship Heads to VIR

BMW Team RLL

BMW Team RLL co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx are seeking their first win of the season in Sunday's Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway. (Photo: Courtesy of IMSA)

The IMSA GT Le Mans class is living up to its reputation as having some of the best sports car competition on the planet.

After eight rounds of the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, four of the five participating manufacturers have won races in 2014: Porsche, Corvette, Dodge Viper SRT and Ferrari.

In Sunday's Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway, BMW Team RLL will be looking to make it five-for-five.  The team has rolled up five podium finishes this season including second-place showings in half of the eight races.

Like most everyone else in the class, Andy Priaulx and Bill Auburlen have been chasing point leaders Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen for the last two months with the championship battle now into its home stretch.

"There are 10 or 11 cars, but that’s 20-22 factory drivers," said Priaulx, runner-up in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and again at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,driving the No. 55 Crowne Plaza BMW Z4 GTE.  "There’s never an easy stint.  It’s close, tough racing."

While Priaulx is new to VIR, Auberlen is a three-time GRAND-AM Rolex Series GT winner on the 3.27-mile natural road course and finished fifth last year while racing in the American Le Mans Series.

"I love this track and this team loves VIR," Auberlen said.  "We’re going to put our heads down and do the very best we can to get our BMW on top of the podium.  It’s a racecar version of a crazy roller-coaster ride.  We go up through the "esses," then to Oak Tree, down the back straight - it’s entertaining from the driver’s standpoint.  They built this track right and that’s why it’s attracted a great series like the TUDOR Championship."

Not that he needed extra motivation, but Auberlen is thrilled with a race format that pairs GTL with the GT Daytona class in the lone stand-alone GT race on the 2014 schedule.

"I’m super-pumped to battle for the overall win," Auberlen said.  "That trophy will look really good on my mantle at home.  But to get through 20 drivers who are so great – this is the best in the entire world in this type of cars, with the best teams behind them – nobody gives an inch.  This is so close and the series has been so tight, it’s very entertaining for the fans."

Dirk Mueller and John Edwards, also competing for BMW Team RLL, have momentum on their side heading into this weekend.  After finishing second earlier this season at Long Beach, they're coming off a second-place finish in the most recent round at Road America.

"In this championship, everything has to be right the whole race," Mueller said.  "Everybody knows we're not the quickest on the straights.  That’s our handicap, but we knew it from last year.  I really want to win at VIR and we'll be giving it our best."

Auberlen and Priaulx are currently fourth in the GTL standings, 24 points behind Garcia and Magnussen and just two up on Edwards and Mueller, who reside in fifth place.  The Prototype class is not competing this weekend at VIR, but Prototype Challenge will run two races in addition to Sunday afternoon's combined GT event.

Motor Racing Network will have live coverage of the GT portion of the Oak Tree Grand Prix on Sunday starting at 3:45 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.

Related Topics:

Bill Auberlen, John Edwards

Race Center

Circuit of The Americas

@ Circuit of the Americas
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Radio Start:
MRN, 12:45 p.m. (ET)

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