Watkins Glen: Penalty costs BMW M Team RLL a first win of the season – Podium for Turner Motorsport in the GTD class.

BMW M Team RLL gave an impressive display at the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen (USA), the third endurance race in the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, however the #25 MOTUL BMW M4 GT3 was denied the result it deserved. BMW M works drivers Connor De Phillippi, John Edwards (both USA) and Augusto Farfus (BRA) started the race from pole position and, after an eventful conclusion, were first across the finish line in the GTD-PRO class. However, as Edwards had been unable to complete the minimum drive time, due to an interruption in the racing, the crew was subsequently stripped of its victory. Turner Motorsport came home fourth in the GTD class, but was promoted to third place and the final spot on the podium as a result of a penalty awarded to the class winners. 

The red flag shown with roughly 90 minutes of the race remaining, due to a thunderstorm warning, was to prove fatal for BMW M Team RLL. Following the interruption, race control determined that there were 35 minutes of racing remaining. Faced with a sprint to the finish, the #25 MOTUL BMW M4 GT3 found itself in the best position despite running fifth in the GTD-PRO class, as it was able to make it through to the finish without having to come into the pits to refuel. When all his rivals were forced to come in for a ‘splash and dash’ shortly before the end of the race, Edwards took the lead and went on to claim what he believed would be the first victory for the team with the new car. However, then came the disappointment. After the interruption, there was insufficient time remaining for Edwards to complete his minimum drive time of 1:17 hours. This counted as a breach of the rules, resulting in a penalty that saw the team demoted to the back of the GTD-PRO field. As such, BMW M Team RLL went unrewarded for its impressive weekend, during which De Phillippi had secured pole position on the Saturday.

Many other teams had the same driving-time issues as BMW M Team RLL, including the winners of the GTD class. Among those to benefit from the penalties were the Turner Motorsport team. Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley and Michael Dinan (all USA) actually crossed the finish line in fourth place in the #96 BMW M4 GT3, but were then able to celebrate on the podium after inheriting third place. The #1 BMW M4 GT3 of Paul Miller Racing dropped back to eleventh place following a late pit stop as a result of a collision.

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