Switch to BMW Forced Team to Miss Rolex 24 At Daytona
By Godwin Kelly
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – After six years under the Lamborghini banner, Paul Miller Racing will make its 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut with the No. 1 BMW M4 GT3 at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
After years of success in the “Lambo” – including Rolex 24 At Daytona and Sebring Twelve Hour wins, plus a GT Daytona (GTD) season championship in 2018 – Miller “decided to do a little shopping.”
“We wanted to see what was out there and spoke to BMW,” said Miller, whose team finished second in GTD points in 2021 with one win and seven podium finishes.
Miller saw a mockup of the new BMW M4 under development on display at a concours in California last year and immediately was fascinated with its design. When he inquired about buying one late last year, he was told it wouldn’t be available until April. Miller, who has a BMW dealership, took the deal knowing he could not compete in January’s Rolex 24.
“In the last four years, from 2021 on back, we had two third places and a win at Daytona (2020),” Miller said. “We won the Michelin Endurance Cup in 2020 after doing well in those four long IMSA races, so let me tell you, this year it was painful to watch.”
One of Miller’s drivers, Bryan Sellers, ratcheted those emotions up a notch.
“Missing Daytona was devastating,” Sellers said. “It’s our biggest race of the year. As a driver, team owner, crew guy, it’s the one you want to compete in and it’s the one you want to win, just because of the sheer difficulty of it.
“The prize you get for winning is the ability to say you are part of that Rolex 24 winners club. It’s something you can carry forever. Not being able to do the race and watch it from home is difficult. Especially for Paul, it was a hard race to miss. It’s one he cherishes as a driver and team owner.”
But the team won’t have to wait until April to go racing. Much to Miller’s delight, an M4 GT3 freed up when a European team canceled its order. PMR took delivery in February and the team high-stepped to Sebring International Raceway for a two-day test session.
“We did a quick shakedown at Sebring so our guys could put their hands on it to make sure we could do a systems check and make sure everything worked,” Sellers said. “The test was basically getting laps. Early on in the life of these things, you have to make sure you can run and run and run, not to see how fast you go, but just to make sure you don’t find any big problems that would take you out of the race early. I would say our test was successful in that regard.”
Miller echoed those thoughts.
“That was a very successful test,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of down time. We were able to get through all our progressions. We had some good pace. I don’t know if it will be a quick enough pace at Sebring.”
Sellers will be joined behind the wheel at Sebring for the March 19 race by Madison Snow and Sweden’s Erik Johansson, who has done extensive testing with the BMW M4.
“Good kid, 25, and Erik has a lot of experience with this car,” Miller said.
Since PMR missed the Rolex 24, Miller said the team has set its sights on the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup title as it learns the ins and outs of this new car.
“Learning year, that’s the way we are approaching it,” he said. “We are taking the long view and hope we can contend some of the time and be competitive most of the time. I think this year will be learning about the car and how to do the best we can. We’ll have a great time.”
On-track activity at Sebring runs March 16-19. WeatherTech Championship practice sessions are set for March 17, qualifying on March 18 and the 12-hour race takes the green flag at 10:10 a.m. ET Saturday, March 19. Peacock has flag-to-flag streaming coverage beginning at 10 a.m., with USA picking up TV coverage at 3:30 p.m. IMSA Radio also has complete coverage on IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio.