BimmerWorld Racing Has Momentum Heading Into Road America

August 3rd, 2017

BimmerWorld Racing Has Momentum Heading Into Road America

BimmerWorld Racing finished in the top five two races ago, and the Dublin, Va.-based team finished on the podium in the most recent IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race. Can it duplicate those efforts or perhaps even win Saturday’s two-hour Road America 120 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.?

Team owner James Clay loves the track and says “It seems possibly in the cards.

“We’ve had a better season than the statistics show, I think,” said Clay, the Blacksburg, Va.-based driver who shares the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW with Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. “We lost an accessory belt at Daytona, had to conserve fuel at Sebring, and we had a wheel issue at Watkins Glen. I think we’re typically top-five capable, and with the recent balance of performance change to level the playing field a bit, we’re now better than before. A win here would be big, and this has certainly been a great track for us in the past.”

BimmerWorld Racing fields two turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) in the Street Tuner class. Two Californians — Ari Balogh of Menlo Park and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco — drive the No. 81 Powerflex BMW. They duplicated their previous best result of sixth this season at the last race at Lime Rock Park, and they’re sure to be contenders, too. They have been fast and ran at the front of the field in the late stages of races several times this season.

There are two practice sessions at 10 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. on Friday. Race day begins with a third practice session at 10:15 a.m. before Street Tuner qualifying at 10:45 a.m. and Grand Sport qualifying 15 minutes later. The open-grid fan walk is at 3:35 p.m., and the green flag drops on the race at 4:30 p.m. Those times are Central.

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 Sunday, Aug. 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
This is traditionally a good track for you. Why?
“I just love Road America. It’s a fast track, and I generally have a high level of comfort in areas that require hanging it out a little bit, which this track rewards.”

What changes to your mindset do you need to make in going from the shortest track on the schedule to the longest track on the schedule?
“The biggest challenges of this long track are getting laps in and opportunities to make changes. You have to identify your issues quickly to make progress on car setup because it will be about 2.5 minutes until the next opportunity to make a change, and you can easily burn time in a session and not make a lot of progress. I think we really nailed our setup at Lime Rock, and I think the short laps helped, as we were able to work through multiple items. We will have to be on our game this weekend to accomplish at the same level.”

Will you make any changes to the car for this race, and if so, in what areas?
“Our cars change in setup every race, and certainly we have some trends we have been working on. If I could crank up the boost for this one, that would be my ideal change, but that isn’t under our control. Instead, I’m sure we’ll work to maximize fast-corner rolling speed and deep or heavy braking performance.”

What do you think is the most advantageous turn to make a pass?
“With our PFC brake package, the hard braking zones of Road America are good to us. There are a few, and I don’t like to give away my favorites, but one of my favorite racing moments was a pass on the outside into Turn 5 for the win back in the Touring Car days. I love that turn!”

Why is the Kink at Road America so special?
“The Kink is an amazing turn and my favorite type. You have to decide if you can go flat, with a lift only, or with a touch of the brakes; through the duration of a stint, and with a range of weather and tire degradation, all of those answers are possible. A fast, high-risk but high-reward turn like the Kink where you just might want to stay flat calls you into either greatness or a massively painful error.”

What’s your favorite food served at Road America?
“This is an impossible question to answer! Road America has the best track food of any venue we visit! The mint soft-serve ice cream, RGB potatoes, and of course a double-brat are strong contenders, but this is also a favorite of our transport driver Dave Taylor, and I am going to say that he will outdo them all with Wisconsin inspired and supplied pierogies and cabbage rolls.”

It was just announced that the series will not appear at CoTA in 2018, but it will run at Mid-Ohio for the first time since 2013. How excited will you be to return to Mid-Ohio?
“I’ll miss CoTA because I do love Austin and Texas in general. Mid-Ohio is a good track and a nice area and a venue we visited for years. I’ll enjoy going back there, and it certainly helps that it’s only about five hours from the shop.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
This is traditionally a good track for you. Why?
“Road America typically is a good track that suits the BMW. We’ve always had good pace there, and Greg and I won there in 2013. I think we have a shot for a good finish this year.”

What changes to your mindset do you need to make in going from the shortest track on the schedule to the longest track on the schedule?
“Not too much. You have to treat it like any other track and buckle down. Each track has its challenges.”

Two races ago (Mosport) you got your first top-five of the season. At the last race (Lime Rock) you got your first podium of the season. Can you get your first victory of the season at Road America? What will it take, and how important is momentum?
“We hope, but there aren’t any guarantees in racing. Both those finishes helped the team’s attitude, as well as James and I, leading into this one. It’s going to take consistency and keeping the car under us.”

What do you think is the most advantageous turn to make a pass?
“Turn 5 and Canada Corner. If you can work up the courage to carry a lot of speed into those and out-brake your competitor, it will be good for you.”

Why is the Kink at Road America so special?
“It’s a corner that teaches lessons, and you have to respect it. One mistake can put you hard into a wall and rattle your cage quite a bit.”

There is a bike ride to fight cancer on Friday, and Road America also has a disc golf course and a zip line. Have you done any of these things there?
“I did the zip line with my girlfriend, and that was crazy. It was amazing to see the track from that perspective.”

What’s your favorite food served at Road America?
“Since it’s the land of cheese, I’m going to go with a cheeseburger!”

What is the most unusual thing you’ve autographed?
“One of the craziest things I autographed is a head, but you love it because that’s a true fan. At the Nürburgring earlier this year, a guy had one to two photos of every pro car I’ve driven since 2012.”

It was just announced that the series will not appear at COTA in 2018, but it will run at Mid-Ohio for the first time since 2013. How excited will you be to return to Mid-Ohio?
“I’m excited about it. Mid-Ohio is a challenging track to race on, but it’s a great track to make laps. It usually brings out a lot of fans, and there is always a lot of action. It will be nice going back there.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
This is traditionally a good track for you. Why?
“Road America suits BMWs well in general, as our brakes are good and can last the whole race without worrying about wear. The torque from our motors going up the hills is also favorable.”

What changes to your mindset do you need to make in going from the shortest track on the schedule to the longest track on the schedule?
“It’s definitely a different kind of track. Road America is much less of a rhythm track than Lime Rock. Hitting your marks is very important here. There are quite a few passing zones as well, which makes the racing really good.”

You and Ari duplicated your best finish of the season so far when you placed sixth at the most recent race. What will it take to get a top-five, and what will it take to get a podium?
“Even though on paper it shows that our best finishes were sixth this season, we were really quick on a couple of occasions and knocking on the podium’s door near the end of the race. I think we just need to put a whole race together.”

How many times will you shift per lap at Road America?
“There are about 20 shifts per lap. We use a stock gearbox with OEM gear ratio, so there is a fairly wide spread between gears. It’s much busier with real race sequential gearboxes.”

What do you think is the most advantageous turn to make a pass?
“I think Canada Corner is the best place to pass. There’s a long straight before that corner which means the draft works well.”

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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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