Round 5: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge – Road Atlanta
September 6th, 2020
The last event at VIRginia International Raceway had the BimmerWorld crew scrambling to repair and reassemble the No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries M4 GT4 after its big off in T1. The turnaround time needed to be less than two weeks, but the BimmerWorld shop guys pulled off the impossible and had the fresh-looking No. 82 loaded into the hauler along with the No. 80 Racing to End Alzheimer’s M4 GT4 on schedule for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge Stay Frosty Performance 250 at Road Atlanta.
While Devin Jones remains out of the driver’s seat while recovering from his big incident, James needed a co-driver to fill the seat. He turned to past BimmerWorld Racing alumnus Greg Liefooghe to get the job done. Liefooghe is no stranger to the M4 GT4 and got acquainted and up to speed instantly, proving the duo would be a solid combination to take on the four-hour race on Sunday with their teammates Nick Galante and Dillon Machavern in the sister car.
While always an important factor, qualifying is a little less important in these longer races. With the current BoP (balance of power) placed on the M4 GT4s, the overall pace wasn’t going to place them at the front of the grid, but a longer endurance-style race such as this is won by strategy. With a starting position of 12th for the No. 80 and 14th for the No. 82, the team knew their strategy needed to get them to the front. And it did.
Throughout the four-hour race, both the No. 80 and No. 82 managed to make it to the front running in first and second and leading a considerable number of laps each. While the field was cycling through pit stops nearing the closing laps, it became obvious the race was going to be won in the pits. As James said in his video update from the pits with an hour to go, “The first guy to make the last stop is the winner.” With both cars running as long as they possibly could before needing fuel, the big gamble was waiting for a caution flag so that both cars could have the chance to make it to the end without a final stop while running in first and second together. Unfortunately, that caution never came and both cars had to come in to refuel, shuffling them back several spots from their leading positions.
In the end, the pair of BimmerWorld Racing M4 GT4s were the top finishing BMWs, both scoring top-10 finishes. An accomplishment to be proud of since the BoP was never in their favor. Additionally, to see how much work went into getting these cars back to the track — let alone leading a considerable amount of the race — is a testament to the dedication of the BimmerWorld Racing team when it comes to getting the job done.
The team now heads back to the shop to reset for the next round of the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge at Mid-Ohio on September 24-27.
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