BimmerWorld Racing Ready to Rock at the Lime Rock Park 120

July 20th, 2017

BimmerWorld Racing Ready to Rock at the Lime Rock Park 120

The 15-minute qualifying session for the Street Tuner (ST) class of the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge series at 3:40 p.m. Friday at Lime Rock Park may be the most important qualifying session of the season for the class. That’s because it will set the grid for the start of the series’ 2-hour race on Saturday at 10:25 a.m. at the bullring in Lakeville, Conn., and where one starts this race could be vitally important to where one finishes. Passing is difficult on the 1.53-mile, seven-turn road course, and it’s easy to go down a lap there and never get it back. Last year’s race had zero full-course caution flags to bunch up the field, and the race is 30 minutes shorter than it was last year.

All those things and more will be on the mind of James Clay of Blacksburg, Va., the owner of BimmerWorld Racing. He qualified fifth for this race last year, just 0.405 off the pole, in the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW he shares with Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. Clay’s Dublin, Va.-based team also fields the No. 81 Powerflex BMW driven by Californians Greg Liefooghe and Ari Balogh. Both cars are turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis).

There are two practice sessions at 10:05 a.m. and 1:20 p.m. on Friday before the all-important qualifying sessions for the 18 cars in the ST class at 3:40 p.m. and the 13 cars in the Grand Sport class at 3:55 p.m. There will be an open-grid fan walk from 9:15 a.m. until 10 a.m. on Saturday before the Lime Rock Park 120 starts 25 minutes later.

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, July 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. All times are Eastern.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
How well suited is Lime Rock to your BMWs?
“It is always tough to predict how our cars will perform, and what strengths one year remain strengths coming into another year’s race. The balance of the field is dynamic both in development and BoP changes. Certainly, the small bit of weight our cars lost recently in the last round of adjustments will hopefully help our cars stay under us for longer runs. A BMW is a well-rounded performance car platform and we are generally pretty capable in a lot of areas. I do think Lime Rock has favored our cars in the past, and I am optimistic that we’re headed there with a strong package for some good results this weekend.”

Since it’s hard to pass at Lime Rock, how important will qualifying be? How do you think you’ll fare?
“Qualifying at the front and racing at the front are critical at Lime Rock, more than any other track we visit. Not only is the track hard to pass on, but the short lap length means the front-runners will be lapping the field in short order, making it difficult for a lapped car to have a top result. I know we qualify well, and we will work to maximize our results.”

Lapped traffic can make things difficult at Lime Rock. Is there a type of car that you dread to see up ahead to pass because it takes turns so differently than you do in your BMW? If so, what car would that be?
“I think the biggest struggle at Lime Rock is the GS class. On a track with long straights, the two classes are well divided, but in this little bullring, the GS cars don’t have a lot of time to flex their straight-line speed and our ST cars are quite capable in the corners, so I anticipate that being a major factor, especially at the start of the race.”

Do you feel you have a bit of an edge here with your brake package?
“Performance Friction has worked with us through this season to further develop our brake package, and in a season when we have struggled in a straight line, brakes have been an important advantage for us. Lime Rock certainly has some light and transitional braking, which has been our focus of work. We are good under braking this year and always, and I hope to see it as a component to work our way to the front.”

How important is it that IMSA races in the New York market? Will you have any sponsors attending this race? What about manufacturer reps, since BMW North America is located in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.?
“This track is in the back yard of BMW’s New Jersey corporate headquarters, and we always see a lot of friends from BMW, as well as customers and business partners in this large New York and Northeast market. A solid result here in front of this crowd is very important to us.”

When you think of all the tracks that the series competes on, is Lime Rock one of the most difficult tracks, one of the easiest tracks, or somewhere in the middle, and why?
“Lime Rock is a relatively simple track to drive, very difficult to master, and overall a tough track to race because times matter down to the hundredths. You hardly have a moment to breathe with no significant straights and under a minute before you pass start/finish to do it all again. But it is a beautiful area, and this race is one I enjoy immensely.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Since it’s hard to pass at Lime Rock, how important will qualifying be? How do you think you’ll fare?
“Qualifying is always important at Lime Rock. If you get too far behind, you’ll lose a lap, and it’s hard to rebound from that. We feel we have a car that can qualify up front and run up front.”

Lime Rock is the nation’s oldest continuously operating road course. Do you get that sense of history when you race here? If so, in what way?
“You do because you see the old pictures and videos, and when you drive it, you can see all the original architecture still there. It’s still an old-school track which everyone loves.”

Lapped traffic can make things difficult at Lime Rock. Is there a type of car that you dread to see up ahead to pass because it takes turns so differently than you do in your BMW? If so, what car would that be?
“The Porsche and Mazda MX-5 are two tough cars to pass. The MX-5 is lighter and smaller which helps it through the tight track, and the lack of straights really helps its overall performance. The Porsche is a center-engine car which allows it to rotate better, and it has good legs down the straights.”

What other track that you race on is most similar to Lime Rock, and why?
“I’d say Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. It has the same characteristics as the downhill at Lime Rock but nothing can come close to the uphill.”

When you think of all the tracks that the series competes on, is Lime Rock one of the most difficult tracks, one of the easiest tracks, or somewhere in the middle, and why?
“I’d say somewhere in the middle. All the tracks have their own difficulties that make it hard to race wheel to wheel. Having the confidence to do it is what makes one track easier than the next.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
Lime Rock is the nation’s oldest continuously operating road course. Do you get that sense of history when you race here? If so, in what way?
“Lime Rock’s history is really what makes the track. Driving over the wooden bridge to get in and being so close to the cars on track at all times makes for a great experience.”

What other track that you race on is most similar to Lime Rock, and why?
“Lime Rock’s layout stands out as you are basically in a corner at all times. The only track that comes close to that is Mosport.”

When you think of all the tracks that the series competes on, is Lime Rock one of the most difficult tracks, one of the easiest tracks, or somewhere in the middle, and why?
“Lime Rock has to be one of the hardest tracks to race on. Unless your car has a big advantage in one of the sections, it’s a no-passing zone. With the super-short lap, it’s also easy to go a lap down with a small mistake.”

Are the Lime Rock fans any different than fans you meet elsewhere? If so, in what way?
“Lime Rock fans remind me a lot of Mosport’s fans. They’re into racing and most of them have been coming to the track for a long time.”

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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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