BMW Team RLL sets 2019 IMSA lineup
BMW Team RLL confirmed its 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship lineup at its year-end event in Munich, Germany.
BLOMQVIST JOINS FULL-SEASON LINEUP
Tom Blomqvist joins the team for the full season in GT Le Mans. He replaces Alexander Sims, who is off to BMW’s ABB FIA Formula E Championship program. Blomqvist will share one of the team’s BMW M8 GTEs with Connor De Phillippi. He has experience in the M8 in a handful of FIA World Endurance Championship races and one IMSA race, last July at Watkins Glen.
“Well clearly replacing Alexander Sims will be tough, being such a legend… he’ll pay me later,” Blomqvist laughed. “I expect to win races. That’s how they ended the season. We should be able to start the season winning races. Connor and the whole team are motivated. Hopefully I can help, and get some good results in the new season.”
John Edwards and Jesse Krohn continue unchanged in the second BMW M8.
ZANARDI LEADS QUARTET OF STAR EXTRAS AT ROLEX 24
Their additions at the Rolex 24 at Daytona boast unique star power across the board.
Key among them is Alex Zanardi, the two-time CART series champion who will make his race debut.
Zanardi’s inspirational comeback story has captured the hearts of many beyond motorsport. Following a crash in Germany in 2001 that cost him both his legs, Zanardi has gone onto great success as a paralympic cyclist where he’s won marathons and gold and silver medals. Afterwards, he resumed his racing career in specially modified BMWs that feature hand controls.
There will be plenty more to come on Zanardi’s story in the weeks leading up to his Rolex 24 debut. For now, the 52-year-old is soaking up the moment.
“I’m very excited,” Zanardi said Friday in Munich. “The M8 is a beautiful car. So to represent BMW there in the land where I changed my life around, in the United States, is incredible. That’s where I discovered the meaning of the word ‘America.’ It’s going to be fantastic.
“Of course my legs are shaking because I can feel the pressure! I’ve been chosen for a reason. So I can only try to enjoy myself and deliver the level of performance it will take. I’ll do my best, and keep my fingers crossed!”
Zanardi has already completed his first test in the BMW M8 GTE earlier this month. He will test at Daytona this month prior to the Roar Before the Rolex 24 in January.
He’ll share a car with Edwards, Krohn and Chaz Mostert. Mostert, an Australian Supercars ace, made his IMSA debut at the Motul Petit Le Mans season finale.
The second car adds Philipp Eng and Colton Herta alongside De Phillippi and Blomqvist. Herta, the 18-year-old son of Bryan Herta, will make his IMSA race debut a year after being BMW Team RLL’s reserve driver.
The significance of him and Zanardi in the same team is remarkable as Zanardi’s most famous victory in open-wheel racing came via a move known as “The Pass” at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in 1996, when Zanardi took to the dirt at the fabled “Corkscrew” to pass Bryan Herta for the win.