BimmerWorld Prepares for 2020 IMSA Season with Successful Daytona Test
January 6th, 2020
The beginning of a new year means it’s time to head to the beach and hit the track.
With the season-opening BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway just three weeks away, the two-car BimmerWorld Racing team visited the World Center of Racing for a weekend of testing in preparation for the 2020 IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series. During the “Roar Before the 24” on January 3-5, both BMW M4 GT4 race cars from the Dublin, Va.-based operation participated in six test sessions on the 3.56-mile, 11-turn road course.
Both the No. 80 Racing to End Alzheimer’s-liveried machine and No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor-sponsored car are set to compete in the Grand Sport (GS) class during the 10-race schedule in 2020.The veteran BMW team will feature Nick Galante from Greenfield, Mass. and Dillon Machavern of Charlotte, Vt. behind the wheel of the No. 80, while the No. 82 car will be driven by Blacksburg, Va.’s James Clay and Devin Jones from Mooresville, N.C.
Machavern is the only new driver for the team this year; however, he has partnered with Galante in the past.
For team owner Clay, working on chemistry is one of the highlights of the yearly Daytona test.
“I’m mostly thrilled to be functioning as a full team unit,” he said. “That’s always my focus as the team owner, to put together a group of people who work well together, and with personalities that blend. It wasn’t really going out on a limb this year with having Nick (Galante) back and adding Dillon Machavern. We’re solidly working as a unit, and I think that’s going to be the biggest dividend we see all year.”
On-track at Daytona, the cars in the GS class saw a dry surface throughout each of the six sessions, but both warm and cool conditions.
Jones turned in BimmerWorld’s quickest lap of 1:54.322 at 112.099 mph during the sixth and final practice session on Sunday afternoon. It was good enough for third in the session and put him 12th among 61 drivers to turn laps in the GS class during the three days of testing. It also placed the No. 82 car 10th out of 27 GS machines on hand.
“Being with the same team again now for the third year is helpful, so you go into the weekend knowing everybody and knowing how we work towards goals and just the whole team plan is familiar, so that’s helpful,” Jones said. “We’re looking forward to that this year.”
Machavern, who turned in the best lap in the No. 80 car with a time of 1:55.164 at 111.279 mph in session four, also believes the format of the Roar helps BimmerWorld massage a little extra on its cars.
“Since there are so many long sessions, we’re able to do some experimenting with different ideas which helps build a baseline set up to fine-tune for the rest of the season,” he said.
Throughout the practice sessions, the team worked on assessing how the car will handle on Daytona’s high banks and corners, or in a pack in the draft. It also collaborated to share data between the two cars—a major benefit of a multi-car team.
Galante believes that not only does the annual test session aid with learning each individual’s driving styles and tendencies but that it can also offer useful data throughout the year, whether it be straight-line speed or how the kink in turn four at Daytona can provide data for turns at Road America and Lime Rock.
“This track, even though it seems like a wide-open, flat-out track, in reality, has a good variety of corners even though there are only a few,” he said.
Overall, the No. 80 car made 132 laps, with the No. 82 turning in 92 circuits.
The sedan-based M4 GT4 is based on the production F82 chassis, with 2020 marking the third year for BimmerWorld utilizing the platform. It shares the same S55 twin-turbo inline-6 cylinder engine, 7-speed DCT transmission, and suspension layout as the street car. Daytona and the GS class as a whole provide ample opportunity to showcase its benefits.
In assessing the GS class, Clay believes that some teams have cars with great straight-line speed, others get out of the corner efficiently, and still others brake well. However, as is the case with BMW cars in general, the M4 GT4 is strong all around.
“I think this car will always be there,” Clay said. “It’s a good overall package, and I think it’s maybe not the strongest at any one specific thing, but it’s very good at everything, which is what ultimately should pay off in races and definitely in championships.”
Clay, who is also the proprietor of BimmerWorld, largest independent BMW parts and tuning specialist in North America, utilizes lessons learned in racing to apply to customer cars as well.
“That’s why we race—to interface with technology and integrate it with the street car and the line of performance parts we sell,” he said.
The three days in Daytona found BimmerWorld competitive in a stout field featuring everything from muscle to factory supercars. The test ultimately armed the BMW specialists with significant amounts of data at the ready for when the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge commences and the real racing begins.
The season opener is slated to take the green flag at 1 p.m. on Friday, January 24. Live coverage can be seen via TrackPass. Television coverage of the race will appear on NBCSN from 1 – 3 p.m. on Thursday, February 6.
The BMW M4 GT4
GT4 is a global racing class for mid-sized sports and GT cars. The unified set of rules allows manufacturers to offer a single racing car for multiple series around the world. BimmerWorld is one of the premier customers for BMW GT4 racing in North America, having competed continuously with the M4 in multiple series since the car was introduced. The race car is based on the F82 M4 street car, using the same S55 twin-turbo inline-6, 7-speed DCT transmission, and suspension layout. Only minor changes are made to make the M4 into a highly competitive race car. The M4 competes with more purpose-built sports cars like the McLaren 570S, Audi R8, and AMG Mercedes GT, along with other GT cars like the Ford Mustang.
BimmerWorld is the preeminent BMW racing/performance specialist in North America, racing professionally in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (BMW M4 GT4), World Challenge GT4 America (BMW M4 GT4), and World Challenge TC America series (BMW M240i Racing). The team also made its third entry in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2019 with a V8-powered BMW E36 M3. BimmerWorld also builds cars and supports racers in various BMW CCA, AER, NASA, and SCCA club series. Off the track, the business is the last, and only, independently-owned major BMW parts specialist in North America. The catalog at www.bimmerworld.com has everything from accessories and OEM replacement parts to highly specialized racing parts with a knowledgeable staff, competitive pricing, and quick service.
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ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise. It competes in the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series in the Grand Sport (GS) class with a pair of BMW Motorsport M4 GT4s, where the Virginia-based outfit has become a winner and championship contender. BimmerWorld Racing also continues to race in the SRO TC America Championship in the Touring Car (TC) class with two BMW Motorsport M240i Racing cars.