BimmerWorld Racing Anticipates That Its Homework Pays Off In ICTSC Race at COTA Friday Afternoon

May 2nd, 2017

BimmerWorld-Racing-Anticipates-That-Its-Homework-Pays-Off-In-ICTSC-Race-at-COTA-Friday-Afternoon

BimmerWorld Racing anticipates that its homework pays off on Friday when the Dublin, Va.-based team fields two turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) in the IMSA Continental Sportscar Challenge Series (ICTSC) race at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.

Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. won the pole for this event last year in the OPTIMA Batteries BMW No. 84 he shares with team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. The team has worked hard to make additional improvements to that car and its sister car, the ShopBMWUSA.com BMW No. 81 driven by Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif. and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco. That work is bound to pay off, and all involved hope that will be evident when the checkered drops Friday at 4:45 p.m. local time for the two-hour race.

BimmerWorld competes in the Street Tuner (ST) class, which has 17 entries, one more than the Grand Sport (GS) class. There are two practice sessions scheduled for 12:40 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Thursday. A shorter practice session is set for 10:45 a.m. on race day prior to ST qualifying at 11:15 a.m. There won’t be much time between qualifying and the race itself, as the open-grid fan walk follows at 1:50 p.m. and the green flag is slated to drop at 2:45 p.m. All times are local.

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 Saturday, May 13 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
How much confidence does it give you knowing that you had the fastest ST car here last year in qualifying, despite being one of the heaviest cars in the class?

“We had a great COTA [race] last year until we had an electrical problem at the start. This is a tough track to get dialed in for, but we have come a long way on the setup for this F30 BMW platform, and I think we have even improved since last year. I feel good coming into this race weekend.”

What are the best ways to save fuel at COTA?
“With the new shorter race format and reduced capacities still shuffling out, we’re aware we’re at a fuel deficit and that we need to manage fuel wisely. We have very economical cars in some scenarios, but at sprint race pace, they use some fuel. We’ll be keeping a constant eye on savings opportunities, the best of which is running in the draft, but that’s a matter of happenstance more than planning and strategy.”

What do you like best about the COTA configuration? What’s the most challenging part?
“I love the speed and fast flow of the track, but linking the sections correctly is challenging. Turns 2-8 are a massive balancing act of speed, and it’s easy to gain or lose 2 seconds in that section alone depending on approach.”

Last year the series raced at COTA in September, but this year the race is in May. According to the weather service, it’s still likely to be in the eighties. What can you do to stay cool?
“80 in Texas? That is cool! We typically see temps close to 100 and track temps of 120-130 for this race, so 80 is a nice change of pace at COTA. I’ll save the cool shirt for when it’s hot!”

Track grip changes a lot at COTA as the race progresses. Last year the track got very greasy at the end of the race. Is there anything you can do to compensate for this?
“The track was greasier last year due to temperatures, so environmental factors will be more in our favor this year. We’ve been really working to keep the car under us for the duration of the race, and I think we’ll see more long-term consistency from the BimmerWorld cars all season.”

Would you please give us a brief update on what you’ve been doing at the Nürburgring in Germany during the month the series had off?
“I have the opportunity to run the 24-Hour Nürburgring race this year for an OPTIMA Batteries project, and since Sebring, Tyler and I, along with another racing friend, have been zipping back and forth from Germany in addition to other racing and track work. It’s been a real challenge and a lot of fun. If I thought COTA was a long track when we first came here five years ago, I was mistaken! We’ll be racing the 24-Hour later in May at the Ring, and then Pike’s Peak as well before the IMSA season kicks into high gear. It’s quite the year for me as a driver!”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
How much confidence does it give you knowing that you had the fastest ST car here last year in qualifying, despite being one of the heaviest cars in the class?

“It really helps us coming into the weekend and gives us some motivation. Putting the car on the pole really showed all the hard work BimmerWorld has done with the new BMW F30 platform. I think it’s going to be a good race and with a little cooler weather.”

Heavier cars usually have more tire wear than lighter cars. How can you save your tires?
“Rolling speed and trying not to push the car every lap will save tires a little. Running a consistent pace to save the tires and staying with the lead pack until the end to push is what wins races.”

What are the best ways to save fuel at COTA?
“Saving fuel is always something that has to be done. COTA is a hard place to save fuel with the long back straight and the hill climbing to Turn 1; it gives us a good challenge. Rolling the speed and staying off the gas through the corner can help with fuel.”

What do you like best about the COTA configuration? What’s the most challenging part?
“I like the section around the tower. There’s lots of passing from the end of the back straight to the last corner. It’s a good section of the track to watch from because most of the action happens there.”

The race will start just three hours after qualifying. Will this pose any challenges?
“It will for the team getting the car ready to go again. They know what to do, but it’s a tight time frame. It’s going to be hectic, but that’s why we love what we do!”

Greg Liefooghe, driver, No. 81 ShopBMWUSA.com BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Does the fact that the team was fast here last year give you added confidence going into this race?

“I think the guys proved that the car was fast at pretty much every track in qualifying last year. We have a good base, but as usual in this super-competitive series, all the competitors are doing a lot of homework. We were able to improve the car significantly since the start of the year, and we’ve been able to run at the front at the end of the races this year. I’m looking forward to seeing how we stack up at COTA, as we’ve done some homework on our side as well.”

Heavier cars usually have more tire wear than lighter cars. How can you save your tires?
“The most important part of saving the tires is to have a car that’s easy on them. Even though the weight of the car plays a big role, having a great shock package will go a long way. On the driving side, minimizing the slip angle, whether it’s braking or cornering, can help a lot, especially in hot conditions.”

What do you like best about the COTA configuration? What’s the most challenging part?
“What I like the most about COTA is the safety standard of the track. It’s the safest in the United States. There are more than enough inherent risks in this sport and no need to have bare concrete walls around a track. The main challenge around this track is the number of corners, which makes it hard to put a good lap together.”

This race is Round 3 of the Continental Tire Series for 2017. How challenging is the competition in your class this year?
“The competition gets better every year. Between the drivers and the car development happening in the series, the pace has escalated. It’s an exciting place to race for both the driving and the technical part of it.”

Last year the track got very greasy at the end of the race. Is there anything you can do to compensate for this?
“Knowing how the car balance evolves comes at a premium in those conditions. Being able to set up the car to be balanced and have grip at the end of the race will be a big advantage.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

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ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise and competes in the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge 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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