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BMW Team RLL announces 2020 IMSA driver lineup

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Bobby Rahal’s IMSA team will include some of the top international sports car drivers in his factory-backed BMWs during the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech season.

The four drivers were announced Wednesday with John Edwards of the United States and Jesse Krohn of Finland sharing the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE prepared by BMW Team RLL. The second BMW features Bruno Spengler of Canada and Conner De Phillippi from the United States in the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE.

“Once again BMW has given us a really good core of drivers to compete with in 2020,” said Rahal, who also is a team partner in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in the NTT IndyCar Series. “I’m pleased with the continuity we have with John Edwards, Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn returning. It is always a good thing to be able to build on the foundation you have created when possible. Bruno Spengler is a really good team player and will be a great addition.

“I have a lot of respect for him and everything he has done in the DTM. We are happy that Augusto Farfus, Colton Herta and Phillipp Eng, who helped us win the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona, will be returning to the line-up for that race and are also looking forward to welcoming Chaz Mostert back. We thank Tom Blomqvist for his commitment to the team this season and wish him luck in his endeavors.”

Jens Marquardt is the BMW Group Motorsports Director and spoke of the potent lineup that will compete in the 12-round schedule in IMSA WeatherTech Sports Cars.

“I am looking forward to the 2020 IMSA season and am confident that, with our four regular drivers, we have everything in place to make it a successful year,” Marquardt said. “We are entering our 12th year together with BMW Team RLL. We are also largely going with continuity when it comes to the drivers. John Edwards and Connor De Phillippi have a lot of experience of the IMSA series, and Jesse Krohn also did a good job in his second IMSA season in 2019. All three know the BMW M8 GTE, the series and the circuits in North America very well. Bruno Spengler has not only shown his class throughout his long DTM career, but also in his many GT outings on the endurance scene. I am sure that he will be a real asset to BMW Team RLL.

“At this point, I would particularly like to thank Tom Blomqvist for the great collaboration over the past five years. Whether in the DTM, WEC, Formula E or the IMSA series, like last season, Tom has coped well on any terrain. We wish him all the best for the future. The IMSA season traditionally starts with the ultimate highlight – the 24 Hours of Daytona. It will be nice to see last year’s four GTLM winners – Augusto, Connor, Colton and Philipp – back at the wheel of the BMW M8 GTE there.”

The two Americans include Edwards and De Phillippi.

“I’m really excited to be rejoining BMW Team RLL, especially as I keep Jesse as my teammate and also our engineer,” Edwards said. “This consistency will hopefully help us to further improve on the track as well. We had some good races last year, but all in all it was a bit up and down and didn’t result in a good championship position. The goal is to be more consistent in 2020.”

Krohn begins his third year in IMSA.

“As I will go into my third year in this series, the learning should be done,” he said. “For me it’s time to execute now. I know the team and we work really well together. I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t have a good season in 2020. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Another American will join the operation for the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, NTT IndyCar Series star Colton Herta. He will join De Phillippi and Spengler at Daytona. The fourth driver in the No. 25 at Daytona will be Phillipp Eng of Austria.

Edwards and Krohn will get two extra drivers at Daytona, including Augusto Farfus of Brazil and Chaz Mostert of Australia.

Farfus, De Phillippi, Herta and Eng are the same four drivers who took victory in the GTLM class after a dramatic, rain-dominated Daytona race in 2019.

 “I’m really excited to be rejoining BMW Team RLL, especially as I keep Jesse as my teammate and also our engineer,” De Phillippi said. “This consistency will hopefully help us to further improve on the track as well. We had some good races last year, but all in all it was a bit up and down and didn’t result in a good championship position. The goal is to be more consistent in 2020.”

Spengler is another driver ready to ready to roll with the team.

“It’s great to be part of BMW Team RLL now,” Spengler said. “I still know lots of the guys from the races that I contested for the team in Daytona and Sebring. Everyone has made me feel really welcome. I’m really looking forward to having a very experienced, strong GT driver as a team-mate at my side in Connor. I’m excited for the new challenge and can’t wait for the season to get started.”

These drivers will be in the cockpit of their respective BMWs during the “Roar Before the 24” test at Daytona International Speedway beginning January 2, 2020.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

 

NHRA: Alexis DeJoria reveals sponsorship for return to Funny Car

Photo courtesy ROKiT/Alexis DeJoria Racing
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Returning to NHRA Funny Car competition after a two-year hiatus, Alexis DeJoria has announced her new team will be sponsored by ABK Beer and ROKiT Phones for the full 24-race 2020 NHRA national event season.

ABK Beer is a 700-year-old Bavarian beer brand, while ROKiT further expands its reach in motorsports, also sponsoring the ROKiT Williams Racing Formula 1 team and the ROKiT Venturi Racing Formula E team.

Both brands have signed multi-year deals to sponsor DeJoria and her 11,000-horsepower Toyota Camry Funny Car. Also, in a unique twist, ROKiT smartphones will engage fans of DeJoria and NHRA with “innovative 3D content,” according to a media release.

“Joining Del Worsham’s newly-formed DC Motorsports team was just the first step in reigniting my quest at being the first female Funny Car world champion, and I’m thrilled that ROKiT is coming along for the ride,” DeJoria said in the media release. “I can’t wait to get back on the track and am energized and excited about all the things we have in store for the amazing NHRA fans.”

DeJoria will join a number of Top Fuel and Funny Car teams in Las Vegas for the annual preseason test-and-tune – otherwise known as “spring training” – on February 1 and 2.

This is the first time the test session will be held at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It has previously been held for at least the last two decades at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

The 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opens the following weekend — February 6-9 — with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

DeJoria, who is married to reality TV star Jesse James, is particularly looking forward to returning to Pomona. It was there where she made drag racing history, becoming the first female to clock a sub-four second run (3.997 seconds) in the 2014 season opener.

Follow @JerryBonkowski