Alexander Sims claimed victory at the 20th running of Petit Le Mans on 7 October 2017, finishing the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with his third win of the season to end on a high note with BMW Team RLL and co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Kuno Wittmer.
The British driver piloted the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM across the finish line of the ten-hour endurance event at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, USA, on the car’s final race and teammate Auberlen’s 400th start with BMW. The duo’s trio of victories confirms Sims’ and Auberlen’s second position in the championship, an impressive considering it was Sims’ first time in the series on unfamiliar circuits.
Sims posted the fastest lap time in his class during Practice 3 around the 2.54-mile circuit, demonstrating that the team had the pace. During Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, Auberlen qualified the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM fifth in an incredibly close-fought session that saw him miss out on pole position by just 0.071 seconds. A post-qualifying penalty for another car moved the No. 25 BMW up to fourth for the start of the race on Saturday.
Auberlen took the wheel for the start of the race. He claimed an early lead and continued to lead the front-runners for most of his two-hour, 30-minute stint before handing over to Sims at the quarter-way mark. The 29-year-old drove consistently and continued the strong performance to keep the lead throughout his stint before handing over to Wittmer. During the pit-stops was the only time the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM shifted from the top spot on the time sheets.
Sims got back into the car for the final double stint in darkness and defended impressively from a rival for the lead during the final 30 minutes to cross the line one second out front after ten hours of close-fought racing. Ultimately, the No. 25 BMW led 220 of 392 laps despite such a closely-matched GTLM field.
“We had a really great season and I’m thrilled to have won Petit this weekend,” Sims said. “I’ve had a great time racing in America this year and even though the circuits have been new to me we’ve had some strong results and three victories. I want to thank BMW Team RLL for giving us such a fast car and the opportunity to race in IMSA this year.
“I also want to extend my congratulations to Bill. This was his 400th race with BMW since 1996 and his 151st win out of those, which is an amazing record. We’ve also really enjoyed racing the M6 and it will be sad to see it go after two years but I can’t wait for the new M8 GTE that will be racing in just a few months’ time.”
Sims and Auberlen concluded the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with 317 points to put them second in the GTLM standings, with BMW second in the Manufacturers’ Standings on 342 points.