Tom Milner – "Don’t Read Anything Into This"
“Don’t read anything into this.” This is Tom Milner’s comment concerning the re-appearance of a PTG entry into an ALMS race at the Petit Le Mans finale this week – say Gary Horrocks.“This is a one off effort, in reality for Yokohama. They approached us to do something for the 25th anniversary of their Advan line. It really has nothing to do with BMW. Yokohama has been a loyal supporter of our efforts, in fact all of our wins in ALMS have been with Yokohama, so it made perfect sense for us. The car is one we made in 2002 but have not raced at all. We would like to sell it, so what better way to sell it than to show what it can do? It is generally the same car as the V8 GTR, other than body work and the motor.”

“It is really going to be a busy weekend for us as we are also running four cars in the Speed World Challenge. Bill Auberlen is ahead of Randy Pobst by 20 points right now, with the races at Road Atlanta and Puerto Rico yet to run. I guess it is a possibility for Bill to clinch this weekend, but it is not very realistic. We are also ahead in the Manufacturers Championship, and that is the reason we are here. We are here to win the title for BMW.”

“I really like the World Challenge series, but it is not nearly as professional as it could be. Attempts to make the cars and drivers all equal are just not possible. There are some very good drivers here in this series, but overall, they are not as good as the drivers are in the ALMS. We are making a good 430 hp out of our 3.2 liter six cylinder. This works out to be 130 – 140 hp per liter. The Viper is only making 68hp per liter for 550 hp and 600 ft-lbs torque and the Audi has a good 520 hp. Adding weight to cars when they are successful is just not right. We are running Justin Marks and he is a good driver, but because he is in one of our cars he gets penalized just like Bill and the others do. There has only really been one race that we had clear superiority. The rest we have won because the others fell off. Why should we be penalized for others mistakes? It is not our fault that the other teams are making mistakes. It is not just the cars. It is the drivers and the team. I feel we are being penalized because we are a better team with better drivers.”

What it all boils down to is that PTG is also in the business of selling cars, and while Tom Milner is able to show that the cars are fast, it is a difficult thing for potential privateer customers. Because the PTG cars are so successful, they are penalized with added weight, which makes it more difficult for a privateer to compete.

“Another problem I have with the SCCA and they way they run the series is with their back door or under the table deals. At Mosport, we were granted a 100-pound weight break, but they didn’t release a technical bulletin on it. Nobody else knew. At Sebring, we, among many others, were using what would usually be a headlight as an air intake. The SCCA announced that this would not be allowed at the next race. So we went ahead and fixed our three cars and built an additional two new cars. When we arrived at the next race, Audi was still running with the headlight air intake. The cars passed tech, and when we asked how, it was explained that they did not have the time to make the fix, as they had to address some overheating issues. Again, no tech bulletin.”

“The rules state that all cars must qualify within 110 percent. But they have never enforced the rule. Why have it? With as much as I have been a problem for them, if one of our cars ever has a problem posting a time in qualifying, I’m almost certain the rule would then be enforced.”

“My unhappiness with the series is not with the basic concept, but with the way it is run. It is just not a professionally run series. The races are good. What you see is what you get. If you don’t win, you go back, work harder, and try to win the next race. It is in my best interest to make the Speed World Challenge series better, as I make my living off of it, and I am also responsible for the living of my 25 employees.”

So, what will you be doing next season? “We have a two year commitment from BMW to run in the Speed World Challenge and we expect to honor that commitment. As far as being back in the ALMS, my answer today for next season is that we will not be back. The following season? Who knows? Is it possible? Yes, it is possible, but at this point, I just don’t know. The rules would have to be improved to allow the smaller motors to better compete. Do I miss long distance racing? Yes, I really do. Could we compete in both series for a full season? I don’t really see it happening.”

Well then, what about your chances at Petit this year? “Petit will be a good, but a tough challenge. I always race to win. Do I always win? No. As it is a long race, speed is not as much a factor as it is in a short race. We are having fun, and the car seems to be running well. We have a pretty good engine and the restrictors don’t seem to be affecting it as much as in a bigger motor. But for the final results, clearly, Job is favored. We are not the favorites to win. Alex is a good friend of mine, and before the race I will shake his hand and tell him to have a good race, you know, may the best man win. I just hope I am the best man this weekend.”

Back when PTG was running the V8 powered GTR BMWs, the comments made alluded to the feeling that it was not really the V8 motor that made the difference, but the overall package. Seeming as how some of that package is now back, we will now get the chance to really see the truth in that statement.


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