BimmerWorld Ready to Resume the Fight at Homestead-Miami Raceway
March 2nd, 2011
After earning podium in ST class and a top-6 in GS at the season opening Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Daytona, BimmerWorld is aiming for more points and speed at Round 2.
For a team that doubled in size, made its debut with a two-car effort in the Grand Sport (GS) category and fielded two new drivers in the Street tuner (ST) class at Daytona, the BMW experts at BimmerWorld Racing came away pleased from the first race of the 2011 championship. But they are also hungry for better results.
ST veteran Greg Liefooghe, partnered with series rookie and rising star John Capestro-DuBets (JCD), stormed to a podium finish on their debut for the team in the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW E90 328i. Ken Wilden and Bob Michaelian took sixth in GS, serving notice that BimmerWorld’s new BMW E92 M3 cars would soon be challenging for podiums. And the newly expanded BimmerWorld team performed flawless pit stops throughout the 2.5-hour Daytona 200 race.
While Daytona left the team with many positives to embrace, it was the list of improvements that meant the most to BimmerWorld owner/driver James Clay and the spirited workforce at the team’s Dublin, Va.-based shop.
With a month between Daytona and the second race of the season held at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, BimmerWorld’s engineers and technicians have been working at a furious pace to find the small refinements that will translate into improved results for all four cars when they race on March 5th.
“For fans that have followed our team over the years it should be no surprise that this month is incredibly busy here as we go through a long list of items on both the ST and GS-class cars to implement the improvements we uncovered at Daytona,” said Clay. “The ST cars were as expected – good out of the box — and we started right where we left off last year with that program, but building the GS cars has given us some new insights into how to improve the ST package. On the GS front, I was certainly happy with our showing on the first race weekend with the new cars, but our goal is to be winning races regularly, and we will be hard at work until we get there.”
In addition to the list of refinements for its BMW 328i and M3 race cars, BimmerWorld has also been busy making operational adjustments to get the most from the four-car team.
“Four cars and all the logistics was certainly a big chunk to bite off,” Clay continued, “but the BimmerWorld crew dug in and carried the team with their determined work ethic. You can’t create the stresses involved in a race weekend during testing and we’ve uncovered some areas for improvement and we will keep looking for areas to solidify until we are executing to perfection.”
Liefooghe, known for his circuit knowledge and chassis setup feedback, was instrumental in helping JCD to achieve the best result for a rookie in the ST class at Daytona. With the team headed for Round 2 of the 10-race championship, Liefooghe has the same expectations for a quality result, and cites the close-knit nature of the team as an influence on the early success of the No. 81.
“The first race was the first test of how well we function as a team and I think it was very successful. John and I are working together really well, and the communication we have with our ST race engineer, Dave Wagener, is really good too. He seems to understand what we want out the car, and he is always pushing hard to improve the setup. Back in Daytona, the car felt great throughout the whole race, and it already feels natural to drive it. As far as the rest of the team, they surround you with their motivation, and they take racing very personally. It would be hard not to feel integrated with that kind of atmosphere. It’s great to be around passionate people like that, and when you’re out on the track you feel like you’re fighting for them too.”
Liefooghe and JCD will compete at Homestead with their teammates Bill Heumann and David White, who pilot the sister No. 80 CRC Industries BimmerWorld BMW E90. The No. 80 was on course to finish alongside the No. 81 at Daytona until a driving infraction slowed their efforts. Round 2 will see BimmerWorld’s ST cars with two very different goals, as the No. 81 seeks to strengthen its place in the championship while the No. 80 looks to overcome the points deficit suffered at Daytona.
The same scenario can be found with BimmerWorld’s GS entries, as the No. 78 BizRate.com BMW E92 M3 of Wilden and Michaelian look to improve upon their 6th-place finish at Daytona, and the No. 79 Johnstone Supply BMW E92 M3 of Clay and Seth Thomas will battle to recover the points lost from a penalty incurred during the Daytona 200.
Wilden, the 2009 GS class champion, says Homestead-Miami’s unique ‘roval’ layout–one that features a blend of the circuit’s oval track and the road course built within the infield–will demand a lot from his BimmerWorld M3.
“You have to be a little more precise with the car’s chassis setup so you don’t scrub too much speed on the oval, which isn’t much of an issue at a track like Daytona. You also need the car to be fast and reactive on the Homestead-Miami infield, and in the tight corners as well. Being able to put the power down out of those corners, and then being able to brake late and deep–something our Performance Friction brakes did to perfection at Daytona–is also crucial. The track might not look like it’s too technical, but you have to get everything right with the car to produce a fast lap.”
From a driving standpoint, Liefooghe says navigating Homestead-Miami’s 2.3-mile, 11-turn circuit takes experience and skill every step of the way.
“Homestead is the hardest ‘easy’ track in the US. There are no real technical corners, but the low grip level of the track and the fact that every corner leads onto a long straightaway means that you have to be inch-perfect everywhere. Other than that, the key to a good lap time will be to make sure you come out fast and clean out of Turn 8, the last corner before getting on the banking. As far as racing goes, aside from Turn 4, all the other corners are suitable for passing, but it just depends where you are in the pack and where you want to come out before the banking. The traffic will also play a big role in the outcome of the race, as it is a very short track for almost 70 cars. It will be intense for all of us at BimmerWorld, but that’s why we do this. It should be a good race for our team.”
Practice gets under way on March 4th, and be sure to follow BimmerWorld’s progress at Homestead-Miami by visiting www.BimmerWorldRacing.com. Tune in to watch the race on SPEED on March 19th at 2 p.m. ET.
Courtesy: BimmerWorld Media Services
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