BMW Team RLL has a deep bench of talent. When it became apparent Maxime Martin would be unavailable for this weekend’s American Le Mans Series race weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, there was only one replacement: Joey Hand, a BMW Team RLL veteran and former class champion who has only raced in ALMS part-time in 2012 and 2013 due to his DTM commitments.
Hand, back driving with Bill Auberlen for the first time since 2009, took the No. 55 BMW Z4 to the GT class pole in damp conditions in Austin with a best time of 2:17.178.
“Considering I was supposed to be floating around my pool here, this is a great day for me,” Hand said. “The difference for me is being in the black car. I know all the guys, I’ve been here a long time, different engineer, but I know the team. It’s nice to be back with Bill Auberlen, we joked that we’re putting the band back together. For sure we’re not the quickest car in the dry, but in the wet we were sure fast.”
Hand outqualified the two Corvettes, teammate John Edwards in the No. 56 BMW and Patrick Long in CORE autosport’s No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, a new tub for that team after being caught up in the start line accident at Baltimore.
Lucas Luhr delivered Muscle Milk Pickett Racing its fifth straight overall and P1 class pole in the team’s HPD ARX-03c. Marino Franchitti took the P2 class pole in Level 5’s No. 552 HPD ARX-03b, with Renger van der Zande (PC, 8Star/DragonSpeed Mishumotors) and Damien Faulkner (GTC, TRG) also scoring class poles. It’s the first poles of the season for the latter two.
The eighth round of the 2013 season, another two-hour, 45-minute affair, goes green at 3:30 p.m. CT on Saturday.