It has been a great start to the 2011 season for Sacramentan Joey Hand. He began the year teaming with fellow Northern California driver Scott Pruett to win the 24 Hours of Daytona. Then about a week and a half ago, he won the 12 Hours of Sebring with the Bobby Rahal and David Letterman owned team. The 32 year old, who was born and raised in Sacramento, helped bring BMW its first class win at Sebring since 1998. He competed in the GT class driving the #56 BMW M3 GT2 with 2 German born drivers, Dirk Muller and Andy Priaulx.
With this win, Joey and his team earned valuable points for two championships. The race at the “Sebring International Raceway” not only counts towards the American Le Mans Series, but also the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
Joey Hand had this to say after the win: “I came to Sebring with a really good feeling that we could win this – and now it really worked out. The victory belongs to everyone in BMW Team RLL. In the off-season the guys built two brand-new BMW M3 GT cars that worked well from the word go. I also want to say thank you to Dunlop. The tires played an important part today and we had this advantage on our side.”
Team Owner Bobby Rahal added: “I have won this race as a driver and now also as a team owner. This certainly is a great honor. The drivers and the team worked exceptionally well, the Dunlop tires were excellent and the cars really didn’t miss a beat. This is a great start to our season.”
The next race in the American LeMans Series is the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, April 15-16, 2011 from 4:30pm to 6:30pm PT. It is combined with the IZOD Indy Car Series and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
BMW Motorsport announced last Friday that Joey Hand will join teammates Dirk Müller and Andy Priaulx to drive the No. 56 BMW M3 GT at this year’s 24 Heures du Mans endurance race on June 11-12, round three of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC). According to the BMWBLOG: “The Le Mans race will be Hand’s first outing on European soil for BMW Motorsport. His outright victory at the 24-hour race in Daytona driving the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Powered Daytona Prototype at the start of the year and success at the 12-hour race in Sebring were timely reminders of the American’s talent ahead of the team selection for Le Mans.”
Here is a video from inside the BMW M3 at Sebring:
I will admit that I didn’t know much about this kind of racing but it is pretty cool that a Northern California driver is having so much success at a worldwide level. There are people talking about Joey moving to Indy cars soon. We will be sure and follow his progress.