BimmerWorld Racing – IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge – Daytona International Speedway
February 4th, 2021
As the 2021 IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge season kicked off at Daytona, this year’s strategy was slightly different due to The Roar Before the 24 being just one week prior to the race, leaving teams with only a handful of days to prepare before strapping back into their cars for race week. Thankfully, BimmerWorld’s testing throughout The Roar was successful, drama-free, and full of progress so the team had very little work to do before the car would be back on the high banks on Wednesday, January 27.
BimmerWorld Racing will be campaigning one GS-class entry with IMSA at specific events throughout the year. The full 2021 season plan has not been fully developed at this time but will be announced very soon. For the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona, the No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries / Racing To End Alzheimer’s M4 GT4 was driven by team owner James Clay along with Nick Galante and Mike Skeen who filled in for injured driver Devin Jones in the latter portion of the 2020 season at Laguna Seca and Sebring.
Picking up where they had left off just four days prior during The Roar, the team got all three drivers comfortable in the car and ready to battle for the four-hour endurance race. After qualifying on Thursday, the BimmerWorld No. 82 car was slated to start in P13. With Galante behind the wheel to take the green flag and four hours on the clock, solid strategy would prove to be a much more important key to success in the race than starting position. Throughout Galante’s stint, he managed to dodge problems on track and continued to work the No. 82 up several positions, well into the hunt for the front of the field.
After handing it over to James Clay, the team continued to battle into the top-10 while keeping the car clean and in one-piece. Mike Skeen hopped in for the final stint a little past halfway into the race. With perfectly timed and executed pit stops, the BimmerWorld No. 82 made its way into the top-5 and continued moving up, hungry to take the lead.
During one of the final restarts, Skeen got bumped off track at Turn 2, but he was able to save it by driving through the grass without doing any considerable damage to the car. Filing back in line after rejoining on track just before Turn 3, he had lost a few positions with the clock winding down. Unfortunately, the contact knocked the alignment out slightly, leaving Skeen to fight his way back to the front with a suboptimal front setup.
Even with the issue of the misaligned front end, Skeen managed to fight hard, driving the OPTIMA Batteries / Racing To End Alzheimer’s No. 82 to the best possible finish. After the final restart with just a few minutes to go, Skeen was in second place overall while heading into Turn 1 as the leading M4 GT4 with three others following closely. The leading McLaren had unmatched straightaway speed all week, making it impossible to catch once out front, but the battle was on between four BMW M4 GT4s for the rest of the podium places.
Skeen went toe-to-toe right up to the last turn where it was proven that being out front on a superspeedway isn’t always the most desirable position due to the draft. The trailing M4s got a solid run in the draft which was too much for Skeen to counter without being able to have a car to draft behind himself. A fourth-place finish certainly felt more like a win and was a huge accomplishment and a happy ending to the first event for the 2021 season.