Lucas Luhr notched up his first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victory as a BMW factory driver at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca today (May 3) after he and co-driver John Edwards led home a BMW Team RLL GTLM one-two at the Monterey Grand Prix.
The pair completed 108 laps of the 2.238-mile circuit to finish 20.4 seconds clear of team-mates Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner in the sister Z4 GTLM. Not only was it Luhr and Edwards’ first victory together but also BMW Team RLL’s maiden win at Laguna Seca.
Today’s triumph also comes almost exactly 40 years to the day after Hans Stuck drove a BMW 3.0 CSL to victory lane in the second heat of the IMSA Camel GT Challenge race at Laguna Seca in 1975. Indeed, BMW Team RLL’s Z4 GTLMs are currently competing in a similar retro livery to that of the CSL in celebration of BMW Motorsport’s debut North American campaign four decades ago.
Victory sees Luhr and Edwards move from fourth to third in the GTLM Drivers’ standings while BMW’s 1-2 helps it assume top-spot in the Manufacturers’ points.
Having annexed the GTLM front row, Luhr wasted little time passing Dirk Werner’s pole-sitting sister car before the pair circulated together at the head of the class throughout the opening 40 minutes.
Both BMWs’ opening pit-stops came on lap 23 during the first caution period of the race. Luhr pitted #24 from the lead and made way for Edwards, while Werner remained aboard #25. But the crowded pit-lane delayed both BMW crews, dropping Edwards to second and Werner third.
It wasn’t long before Edwards was back in control, though, and had established a 14-second lead as the race entered its second hour. That was up to 20 by the time he pitted again on lap 63 and was never troubled thereafter.
“It is very special for me,” said Lucas afterwards. “A special day. It is my first win as a BMW works driver, so that is very, very sweet and I think I am going to remember it for a long time.
“I think the key for us was we were the only car that started on the soft tyres and that was maybe a little bit of a risk. Then the next key was that in traffic I was able to go by Dirk and able to pull a little gap and that gave us a bit of an advantage over the competitors. But then we changed and we came out behind the Ferrari when we blocked ourselves a little bit in the pits. John did a great job to get by him again. Then it was our race to control and he did an awesome job to control the pace and also to manage the traffic well. He still gave me some grey hairs at some of the overtaking moves, but he did really well and I am happy.
“It is a one-two for BMW and for BMW Team RLL, so it is a very good day here in beautiful California.”
While round six of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship takes place at Watkins Glen on June 28, Lucas is back in action as early as two weeks’ time when he attempts to win a third Nurburgring 24 Hours outright as part of the BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS squad.