BimmerWorld Hopes to End the Season on a High Note Friday Afternoon at Road Atlanta

September 28th, 2016

BimmerWorld-Hopes-to-End-the-Season-on-a-High-Note-Friday-Afternoon-at-Road-Atlanta-

On Friday afternoon, BimmerWorld Racing and the other IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge teams will put an exclamation point on the 10-event, 2016 season at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., with a 2.5-hour season finale.

Last year’s race at Road Atlanta was held in the rain, but the five-day forecast calls for sunny skies on Friday when team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va., and Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. will share the team’s No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i. The Dublin, Va.-based team will also field their No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i that will be driven by Jerry Kaufman of Mooresville, N.C. and Kyle Tilley of Bath, England. Both cars are turbocharged BMWs (F30 chassis), and they’re entered in the most popular class, Street Tuner.

Fuel mileage and tire wear will be on the drivers’ minds at Road Atlanta, as will the more obvious challenges of just getting around the 2.5-mile, 12-turn road course quickly.

Clay and Cooke are tenth in the current point standings. Tilley is 20th and Kaufman is tied for 24th out of 89 drivers. They’re all eager to end the season with good finishes, and then they’ll immediately begin their preparation for 2017 with testing at Daytona on Saturday. Kaufman also plans to use the off season to get married, following up his proposal on pit lane from the season opener at Daytona in January.

Nine Grand Sport and 18 Street Tuner cars are entered in the season finale, which begins with practice from 2:35 PM to 3:20 PM on Wednesday and 10:10 AM to 10:55 AM on Thursday. Qualifying for the Street Tuner class is Thursday from 4:45 PM to 5 PM, while the Grand Sport class qualifying follows from 5:15 PM to 5:30 PM. The 2.5-hour race is slated for 12:25 PM to 2:55 PM on Friday, preceded by an open-grid fan walk on pit lane from 11:35 AM to 12:15 PM.

Live video streaming and live timing and scoring will be available on imsa.com and imsa.tv. The television broadcast will be on FOX Sports 1 on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, Oct. 9 from 11 AM to 1 PM. All times are Eastern.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
How would you rate this season?

“This was a good season with a lot of promise, but I think, in general, while we are awesome in braking, we still struggle on tire use (and braking deep uses more tire), and we have lost a power advantage we once enjoyed that balanced the car in the field as other marques have found or been given more. We have finally overcome our driveline development issues and have a very solid, raceable BMW. I am eager to close the season strong and then begin to focus 100 percent on the full car for 2017.”

What would you say were the highlights?
“So far, we have captured four pole positions and run at the front at multiple events, claiming the first podium for our F30 turbo-powered platform at Sebring. I have enjoyed building this car into a true contender in the series and seeing the results from it.”

What is the main thing you and the crew plan to work on this winter to be ready for 2017?
“We have a very focused program locked in for 2017, and the season starts as soon as the tailgate closes in Atlanta with testing at Daytona the following day! We have a lot of work, as we do every winter, and I am eager to get to it.”

Road Atlanta is a fan favorite of BMW fans. Will you have numerous friends and customers out for the weekend?
“Road Atlanta was one of the first tracks I drove when I started in this sport back in 1997, and we have a lot of friends in the area from the time we spend there. Race weekends are always busy, but seeing friends is the best part of the weekend.”

Experience is the best teacher. In what ways did you improve as a driver this year?
“This was a very good year for me as a driver. I have been more focused than I have been in some years, and I really enjoyed my time in the car. It took me almost 20 years to not agonize over the little things and be confident in identifying shortcomings in a car instead of just working to dig harder, and that step has made me better behind the wheel and has resulted in a stronger car setup as well.”

Last year BimmerWorld had mixed results in this race. One of the BimmerWorld cars finished in the top 10, but the other one was 22nd. In what general ways have the BMWs you’re driving improved this year?
“Road Atlanta was a crapshoot with the weather in 2015, and we struggled in the wet there. I think we have improved wet performance tremendously, and I think we are ready for whatever is thrown at us this race.”

Now that you’ll have a little off time, what will you do that you’ve put off since you’ve been racing so much?
“I would like to say I’ll be spending more time on a jet ski, but the season is closing there also. As the cold comes, so does college football and skiing. And, really, I’m eager to put more time in our BimmerWorld performance parts business, converting race development to customer projects!”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Last year BimmerWorld had mixed results in this race. One of the cars finished in the top 10, but the other one was 22nd. In what general ways have the BMWs you’re driving improved this year?

“We have come a long way with the reliability of the engine and the overall handling of the car. The car has been a lot more settled than last year, but we keep getting better as the year has been progressing.”

Is this a good track for the BMW? Why or why not?
“I feel like it is. Every year we have raced there we’ve been in the top 10. Now we just need to finish it with the position we’ve been working hard for.”

What do you think will be the keys to success in this race?
“Fuel mileage has been the key to most races this year with the long green flags, and that’s going to be important here, as well as tire wear.”

What do you like best about Road Atlanta?
“It’s an old track, so the danger factor is higher, like at Road America. It gives you a rush that’s hard to explain.”

Looking back over the season, what would you say was your highlight or best memory?
“Getting the pole at Sebring and making history that weekend.”

Looking forward, the biggest race of the 2017 season is just over three months away. What will you do during the off-season to prepare? How will your training regimen change, if at all?
“A lot of mental training to help limit any mistakes, and a lot of biking and weight lifting to keep my muscles ready.”

Jerry Kaufman, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Last year this race was held in the rain, and some cars hydroplaned off course. If you had to give a percentage point value to how much rain complicates things, what percentage would you give it? What do fans not realize about how hard it is in the cockpit when it rains?

“Rain can make a total mess out of a race because it’s highly unpredictable. Racing in constant rain isn’t really that difficult. It’s about 20 percent more difficult than a dry track, but the grip is pretty consistent. A drying track or storm that hits certain parts of the track but not others is probably 60 percent more difficult to get everything out of because there is so much more that is unknown. The great news is that everyone has to deal with the same conditions. Racing for BimmerWorld is a big advantage because the engineers and crew are top notch. Our strategy worked well at VIR, and I think if we have similar conditions at Road Atlanta, we will do even better.”

What do you think will be the keys to success in this race?
“Qualifying on Thursday is going to be critical. We have really good power and torque so we can get a really good run at the start, but it’s often for naught because there is no passing allowed until the start-finish line. Unfortunately, we have the same size tires as cars that weigh 500 pounds less than ours, so we really need to get a good start because our tires tend to fall off quicker than theirs.”

What do you like best about Road Atlanta?
“Road Atlanta is a really cool track for me because when the first of the Gran Turisimo and Forza games came out, it was my favorite track to play. To be there on the IMSA weekend is very special. It’s the big show, and the pressure is on to finish the year with a strong showing.”

Looking back over the season, what would you say was your highlight or best memory?
“That’s an easy question! Getting engaged on the fan walk at Daytona was something that I’ll never forget as long as I live. Shortly after that, I drove the No. 81 from 12th place to fourth before I fell back after having some contact, but it was great to be up front with the leaders.”

Experience is the best teacher. In what ways did you improve as a driver this year?
“I had a lot of success last year, winning a national championship at the club level. I certainly understood what it is to drive a car at the limit. I could even ‘get on it’ right from the start, and a lot of racers struggle with that. They say that they need the tires to warm up, but it’s really their brains that they are warming up. This year, however, has been a big eye-opener for me. It has made me a more well-rounded driver who understands the dynamics of what the car is doing and also what changes can be made to improve the car as well. I’ve also learned a lot about routine and preparation. I’m not saying that I could get in my club race car and put down a faster lap than I did last year, but I would certainly beat my last year’s self over the course of a race weekend.”

Looking forward, the biggest race of the 2017 season is just over three months away. What will you do during the off-season to prepare? How will your training regimen change, if at all?
“I’m in a unique position this year that I’m getting married and going on my honeymoon a few weeks after the race at Road Atlanta, so that will put a damper on 2017 race prep. For the fans, there is a long break from October until January, but for the racers we never stop. There are plenty of club races like the 13 hours of VIR and the 25 hours of Thunderhill in the off-season. It’s a great way to keep the momentum going.”

Kyle Tilley, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Is this a good track for the BMW? Why or why not?

“Road Atlanta should be a great track for the BMW; we have good straight-line speed. However, it will be dependent on getting out of Turn 7 well. It’s a tight corner, which is the Achilles’ heel for our No. 81.”

Last year this race was held in the rain, and some cars hydroplaned off course. If you had to give a percentage point value to how much rain complicates things, what percentage would you give it? What do fans not realize about how hard it is in the cockpit when it rains?
“I would welcome the rain! I think that growing up in Europe, I have a bit of an advantage. The car is constantly on a knife’s edge, and the grip is changing lap after lap. It’s a challenge I relish. A side that isn’t so fun is the visibility. Often we have to loosen our belts on a straight to defog the inside of the screen!”

What do you like best about Road Atlanta?
“I love the track; it has an old-school, fast and flowing nature, and it’s a track I have always been very competitive at. Corners, like my favorites at Turns 11 and 12, are corners which require 110 percent commitment and reward bravery.”

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ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise, and competes in the Continental Tire Series with a pair of BMW 328is (F30) where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and Championship contender.

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