BMW Chooses Dunlop for ALMS
When the flag drops to open the 2009 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) racing season on 21 March, the M3 racing cars of the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team will be sporting new “shoes” from Dunlop tyres. BMW Motorsport has chosen Dunlop as its official race tyre supplier for the coming ALMS season after extensive winter testing. One of the strongest teams in the ALMS GT2 series, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team will compete with two BMW Motorsport factory-supported cars in 2009. Dunlop tyres will provide the transfer of power to the track.
Martin Birkman, motorsports manager for BMW of North America, said, “The CSL coupes of BMW of North America’s very first racing program in 1975 raced on Dunlop tyres, and we welcome Dunlop back as a technical partner on the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3s.”
According to racing legend Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing, “The manufacturers are more involved in the ALMS and there is a technical freedom that doesn’t exist very much in racing any more, which gives us the opportunity to choose the tyre supplier we prefer. We are very happy with the progress of the Dunlop tyre during pre-season testing and are extremely confident heading into this season with Dunlop rubber underneath our cars.”
While not contractually affiliated with any teams during the 2008 ALMS season, Dunlop racing tyres were still used on several race cars, and increasingly so towards the end of the 11-race campaign, as teams recognized a performance advantage.
“This alignment between the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team and Dunlop is exciting for us. We believe that Dunlop’s great brand heritage and the cutting-edge technology combine to deliver a package that will contribute to the expected success of this team in this year’s ALMS competition,” said Gary Wassell, Dunlop Motorsport engineering leader.
In recent months, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team M3s have been practicing on the Dunlop race tyres, building toward the upcoming ALMS season, which includes racing at well-known circuits such as Sebring, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Mosport and Laguna Seca.
To support BMW Motorsport’s return to ALMS with its next-generation M3 coupe, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team will campaign a two-car effort. The highly anticipated return of BMW race cars coincides with the ALMS’ 10th season of world-class sports car racing. BMW Motorsport won the first race in the history of the ALMS in the 1999 Twelve Hours of Sebring. This year’s season opener, 21 March with live coverage on the SPEED Channel, is at Sebring, and is the 100th race in the ALMS.
For Dunlop, the opportunity to compete in a high-image sports car racing series is fitting, because it is one of the iconic brands at the original Le Mans race, including the Dunlop Bridge. Dunlop’s extensive worldwide experience in endurance racing helped convince BMW Motorsport to select Dunlop as its technical associate for the 2009 ALMS season.
According to Todd Hershberger, brand director of Dunlop North America, BMW Motorsport and Dunlop share a philosophy regarding the racing impact on consumer products. “Every racing technology breakthrough has to find its application in everyday products. That is what explains, for instance, the Dunlop Sport Maxx and Direzza tyres success in amateur racing or the strong Dunlop Sport Maxx presence in top original equipment vehicle fitments,” he explained.
“These GT2 class race cars in the ALMS appear most similar to street cars, making the technology transfer easier to comprehend for consumers. We know that automotive enthusiasts appreciate quality and performance, and that is why we believe Dunlop’s association with BMW in ALMS racing is a perfect match.”
For the 2009 ALMS season, the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team has announced that Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, Tommy Milner and Dirk Müller will represent the team’s two-car effort as drivers in the GT2 class.