Last month, I had the opportunity to shoot BMW Team RLL as they entered the season's last race weekend with the GTLM championship on the line*. With a 10-hour race ahead and (literally) relentless rain every day, it looked like anybody's race. As if they could read my mind and my fear of what the high stakes would mean for the mood in the RLL pit space, everybody was incredibly gracious and made me feel right at home. Before long, I found myself relaxing in one of the team's haulers laughing and joking with Augusto Farfus (BMW DTM), Dirk Werner (RLL #25), Jens Klingmann (ADAC GT Masters), and BMW legend Bill Auberlen (RLL #25). I even had real conversations with El Jefe himself: BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt--who's hilarious, by the way. The best part was not once succumbing to the urge to break out the old iPhone, request ussies, and boast about it on social networks while missing the real magic all around me.
Over the time we spent under their cavernous pit tent, it was clear why BMW continues to trust Team RLL to field their top GT effort in the U.S. The team works tirelessly and efficiently, and yet makes it all look effortless. Guaranteed, there are guys wrenching on cars in LeMons and Chump Car pits who look more stressed than the Team RLL boys. Even those working on the #25 car, the championship contending car, were calm and methodical. For them, it was just business as usual.
In the end, Porsche North America took the championship--an exclamation point punctuating their dominance in the last half of the season, and Nick Tandy's 24 Hours of LeMans win in that other Porsche. #25 still managed a very respectable second place in the championship. I don't know if things would have come out differently had the race run its full course. Maybe. Both of the other 911 RSRs on track had serious off-course excursions during the weekend, while the Z4s stayed poised and drama free. As a result of starting from the back after their crashes, the #912 Porsche #17 Falken Tire Porsche were behind the rest of the field when the race ended. Perhaps another hour or two of racing, and the other Stuttgart domino would have also fallen, leaving the door wide open for the team. Klingmann, Lucas Luhr, and Jonathan Edwards had the #24 in second place, hot on the heels of Nick Tandy & co. in the #911 Porsche, ready to take advantage of any bobble from the LeMans winner's end, and act as a buffer to keep the #3 Corvette from stealing the title should the #25 fall further down the race order.
I can speculate all day, but unfortunately the race was stopped when it was. We'll never know what lay behind door #2, but we do know that this year's second place, and two previous championship trophies in the ALMS show that Team RLL should never be counted out. Thanks, Team RLL. We'll see you next year.
*Benzin Garage takes an artistic approach to capturing races and teams. Our aim is for every image to be worthy of an art gallery. To inquire about event shoots and live social media coverage for your race team, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.