Joining the race in seventh place, Dirk Werner made a thrilling charge to take the lead in the closing minutes and give BMW its first United SportsCar Championship victory in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, Saturday in Long Beach.
Bill Auberlen started the winning No. 25 BMW Z4 GTE from the pole, but lost the lead on the opening lap as Giancarlo Fisichella charged from third to first in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia.
Then, a poorly venting fuel tank and slow fuel fill delayed Werner's departure from the pits after he exchanged with Auberlen.
Without the benefit of a caution period in the 100-minute race on the 1.968-mile street circuit, Werner put his head down.
Driving a car carrying the paint scheme of BMW Motorsport’s first U.S. victory at Sebring in 1975, Werner caught Kaffer on the 68th lap and made the pass for the lead in Turn 9.
With the Ferrari’s tires going away, Werner cruised through the final 11 minutes, winning by 2.911 seconds over Kaffer.
"For me it is a great feeling to not only win with BMW for the first time in this championship since 2013, but for me the last win was five years ago in a car race," admitted Werner.
"I have been waiting for this win and today is just a great day. Everybody in the team deserves this. Last year was a tough year and this year, especially at this track now, the car is really good. Everyone can be proud."