After recent success in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Alexander Sims and his BMW Team RLL teammate Bill Auberlen suffered from a disappointing weekend in the America’s Tire 250 race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California, on 24 September 2017. Despite strong pace in the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM, contact from a GT Le Mans class competitor put Auberlen into the gravel and two laps down halfway through the race. The duo recovered to finish eighth in class but the collision cost them points and has put them out of the drivers’ title running.
Sims started the weekend by showing strong pace during the practice sessions and qualifying fourth in class to start the race alongside the team’s sister BMW No. 24. His qualifying lap time of 1:22.178 missed out on the top spot by just 0.264 seconds and was a mere 0.001 seconds off his No. 24 teammate John Edwards in such a hard-fought session.
Sims started the race and as he and Edwards went into turn one an unfortunate touch under braking put the No. 24 into a spin. Edwards recovered and re-joined the race while Sims assumed third place, a position that he maintained for the majority of his first stint. He slipped back to fourth just before handing over to Auberlen after 43 minutes of running.
On lap 57 while running third, Auberlen was hit from behind by the No. 67 Ford and spun into the gravel at turn three. He dropped down the field as a result, with the No. 67 issued with a penalty for causing the collision. Auberlen was extracted from the gravel two laps down and headed to the pits to hand over to Sims for a final stint. Despite his best efforts, Sims was unable to further improve the No. 25 BMW’s position and crossed the line eighth.
Sims and Auberlen now sit third in the points standings heading to the season finale at Road Atlanta in two weeks. While the race didn’t produce the result that Sims and Auberlen deserved, the BMW Team RLL secured its third win of the season as Edwards and Martin Tomczyk claimed victory in the No. 24, following Sims and Auberlen’s triumphs at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“We were really hoping for something more out of this weekend because we showed such good pace throughout and definitely had the car to get a podium result,” said Sims. “I’ve really got to thank the BMW Team RLL guys for putting us in such a good position and congratulate John and Martin for getting their first win of the season – and Martin’s first series win.
“Unfortunately our race was effectively ended when another GTLM car hit us from behind. It’s put us out of contention for the drivers’ championship, which is extremely frustrating but these things happen and overall it’s been a very positive season for us. We’ll still be aiming for a top-step performance at the Petit Le Mans finale.”
While the ten-hour Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta will round out the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season on 7 October, Sims is back in action this weekend in the final Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup round at Barcelona, competing with Rowe Racing.