BimmerWorld Racing Was In Line for Two Great Finishes Until the Tide Turned at Road Atlanta

BimmerWorld Racing Was In Line for Two Great Finishes Until the Tide Turned at Road Atlanta

If Friday’s two-hour season finale of the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge series had been just 12 minutes shorter, BimmerWorld Racing would have finished the season with a podium and a top-five finish in the Street Tuner (ST) class with its pair of turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis). Unfortunately, the tide changed drastically for the Dublin, Va.-based team in the late stages of the race, with one car in a gravel trap and another hard into a concrete wall rimming the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course near Atlanta.

The No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW of team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. was in third when it ended up in the wall on what should have been a final restart. Luckily, Cooke escaped injury in a crash that he said was “probably one of the bigger hits I’ve ever been involved in.”

The team’s other ST car, the Powerflex No. 81 driven by Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif. and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco, was fifth with 12 minutes to go when it pitted due to a leaking oil line. Liefooghe returned to the fray, but when the ABS system failed with 8 minutes remaining, he ended up in a gravel trap adjacent to Turn 6 that brought out the caution that set up the disastrous restart with two minutes to go. That restart resulted in the concertina accident that sent Cooke’s BMW hard into the wall off Turn 10, and the race finished under that yellow.

The finish was a stark contrast to how well things started. Clay qualified second and ran in that spot until he was pushed back to third right before the first yellow. He regained second on lap 23 and the race strategy seemed to be going in the team’s favor when Clay pitted for the driver change with 65 minutes remaining. Cooke was in third for the restart on lap 41 with 45 minutes remaining, and he led laps 42 and 43 after passing Tom Long. The Nissan that eventually won passed him at that point, but Cooke stayed in second until he and Long had a little contact that pushed Cooke back to third, where he remained until the violent finish.

The No. 81 contingent had a lot to cheer about for most of the race. Balogh qualified seventh and ran in the top-10 throughout his stint, doing his best to save the car for Liefooghe’s ending push. Balogh was as high as fourth at one point. Liefooghe was in sixth for the restart with 45 minutes remaining and up to fourth with 19 minutes remaining before slipping back to fifth right before pitting due to the leaking oil line.

Clay and Cooke ended up 12th in the race and sixth in the final ST driver point standings. Balogh and Liefooghe were credited with a 14th-place finish in the race and in the championship. The No. 84 ended the season in sixth in the ST team standings and the 81 was 13th. The No. 84 also won the VP Fuels Front Runner Award, while the No. 81 tied for third in those standings.

The race will air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Oct. 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Eastern.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “During the restart, we just reached the acceleration point, and I guess we accelerated when the leader did. It’s a little tough when you’ve got guys behind you that accelerated 100 feet earlier. Two teammates got together, and that’s silliness that didn’t need to happen. It’s unfortunate for them, and it’s certainly unfortunate for us because we were running a great race. We’re not happy with the result, and this is especially tough at the end of the year. There’s going to be somebody who wins, and we’re not those guys.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “I had a pretty good stint, but the car started to fall away really bad towards the end of the race. I was actually just happy to get this restart because I saw Owen [Trinkler] slowly coming back to us, and I knew the Audi was going to battle with him. If we could’ve got in front of Owen, we could’ve possibly got second in the championship.

“It’s such a bummer because the guys worked so hard. We had a really rough week and they’d been working on that car nonstop. They finally got it good, and we had a car that could’ve possibly won. We could’ve walked out of here with a good result, and if we had beat the [No.] 73 Mini, James would’ve gotten a trophy for the most poles, so it was definitely a heartbreaker. And it was definitely a big hit. Probably one of the bigger hits I’ve ever been involved in.”

What happened there at the end?
“It looked like the Nissan accelerated and then slammed on the brakes, and we’re all coming up behind while accelerating. I just talked to Tom Long who was in the [No.] 27, and he said he was in fourth gear. I mean, he was committed there. We were going green and he slammed on the brakes, so we had a traffic jam. Andrew in the 26 got hit really hard and got slammed into me. I guess he drove over the side of my car, and that’s what ended the race. It would’ve been one lap to the checkered flag, so it’s just a bummer. That’s not how we wanted to retire the car, but we get to focus on the M4 now. It’s just a bummer for the team. But you know what, hats off to the team; they busted their butts.”

Greg Liefooghe, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis, which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.): “The day was really good; it was definitely our best race of the season by far. Ari had a breakthrough in qualifying and raced really well, so we’re super happy about the progress we’ve made this season with him. The car was actually the best it’s ever felt, so it’s almost like we need to have a few more races on it. But the guys did a great job; the car was just awesome. We didn’t have the pace of the Nissan, but I think we had the fastest cars after that, so it was just a great effort from the whole team.”

What happened at the end?
“We had an oil leak and fixed it, and then my ABS failed. That’s how I ended up in the gravel trap.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing Looks to End the Season on a High Note at Road Atlanta

BimmerWorld Racing Looks to End the Season on a High Note at Road Atlanta

BimmerWorld Racing and the other IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge teams are looking forward to a great finish to the 2017 season during their last race of the year on Friday afternoon, Oct. 6 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.

The race supports the Motul Petit Le Mans IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship race the following day.

The Dublin, Va.-based team will field two turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) in the 18-car Street Tuner (ST) class for the two-hour Fox Factory 120. The ST cars will be joined by 13 Grand Sport (GS) cars on the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver, Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C., are in a three-way tie for third in the team point standings with their OPTIMA Batteries No. 84. Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif. and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco will share the team’s Powerflex BMW No. 81.

Two practice sessions will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 9:50 a.m. and 2:10 p.m. A third practice session will be held at 8 a.m. on race day prior to ST qualifying at 8:30 a.m. and GS qualifying at 8:45 a.m. An open-grid fan walk is slated for 12:55 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. before the 1:50 p.m. green flag.

Live video streaming and live timing and scoring will be offered on imsa.com and imsa.tv. from 1:40 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. The race will also air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Oct. 15 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. All times are Eastern.

Since this is the last race of the year, do you think drivers take more chances than usual? The mindset of some seems to be to throw caution to the wind in the hopes for a great finish, knowing that there is time to repair the car over the winter. Do you feel this way?

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “I’m sure some will take more chances for that win or good finish, and some will take fewer to retain a championship position. We’re currently tied for third and not able to hit the top spot, so for me, the focus is closing out this season and our ST program as we move to GT4 next year with a win — which may mean we take a few chances to get there.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “Yes, this race usually has more contact. The drivers who aren’t in the championship want to finish the year with a good finish. The drivers who are in the championship, like us, have to take the chances but also drive smart at the same time.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.: “I don’t know that any drivers would take more or less risk than usual unless there is something valuable at stake like a championship for some, a win for others, or the last chance to prove what you have before the end of the season. The last half of the season has been very enjoyable. It’s no secret that IMSA is moving on and ST is not going to live long past 2018. It’s been very cool to see everybody running their cars full tilt, not worrying about BOP.”

Why is Road Atlanta a good track to host the season finale?

Tyler Cooke: “Because it has the long history of the Petit Le Mans and brings out fans from all over. It’s a track the separates the boys from the men and allows for a good show.”

Greg Liefooghe: “Road Atlanta is fun and rewarding to drive. The races end up always being super tight because of the long back straight that allows for drafting.”

Fuel mileage and tire wear seem to always be key factors to success in this series. What can you do as a driver to save fuel and tires at Road Atlanta?

James Clay: “The first half of Road Atlanta has a lot of part throttle, so managing that in traffic can help fuel consumption. Tires are almost always an issue here because of the heat, and this year seems to be more of the same.”

Tyler Cooke: “Rolling speed through the corner will allow us to save fuel and not spinning the tires off the corner will allow us to keep the tires under us.”

Greg Liefooghe: “It will be interesting to see what kind of tire wear the new pavement at Road Atlanta will produce. We know there will be some tough contenders there with the Audi and Nissan being so quick on the straights, so I’m not sure we’ll have the luxury of saving fuel.”

What will you do in the couple of months that there are no races? Do you have anything special planned?

James Clay: “Of course — more racing! I’ll be with friends at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in December again, and our GT4 M4s will come in this fall, which will require testing.”

Tyler Cooke: “Remodeling the kitchen at my place, doing some work around the country, and practicing on my simulator. Spending time with family is a big priority.”

Greg Liefooghe: “The two-month off-season tends to be really busy. We have some endurance races here and there and testing to prep for the next year. Daytona is right around the corner for everybody.”

No matter where you end up in the point standings, what were some of the big takeaways you had from the 2017 season?

James Clay: “The biggest accomplishment we’ve had this year, no matter how the season ends, is finally reaching the point in these F30 328i BMWs that we have reliable and strong race cars. Developing these technically advanced cars has been a monumental effort, both in money and effort expended, and it’s been brutal at times for everyone involved. As I look back on our record with not a single DNF to date and some pretty solid finishes, I’m really proud of our team and partners that got us here and the fact that we’ve been back to running a proper race team instead of constant development and money hemorrhage.”

Tyler Cooke: “How far we came from last year. Last year we were really far down in the points and had many failures. This year we’ve been right there for most of the year and now have a chance to finish on the championship podium.”

Greg Liefooghe: “Although we’ve lacked a bit of success, we’ve had a car that was capable to run up front at most of the races. Ari has been making great strides throughout the year, and he’s had some really good races, including the last one at Laguna where he was super quick for his whole stint. So the big takeaway from this year would be our progress.”

Is there anyone in particular that you’d like to thank for their efforts this season?

James Clay: “Everyone involved with our team this season has been a tremendous help, especially the BimmerWorld staff that has worked both at the shop and at events tirelessly to get our cars to this point, and it would be almost unfair to single out people from a group that has all put forth so much effort.”

Tyler Cooke: “The whole BimmerWorld team. I can’t single out anyone because if it wasn’t for everyone working as one we wouldn’t be in the position we’re now. They deserve most of the credit.”

Greg Liefooghe: “It’s hard to point out a particular person, as the whole team is working together for a common goal. James Clay did an unbelievable job leading the team and making the fastest 328i in the world. If only people knew how much work was involved in this project, I think they would be amazed at the technical knowledge that BimmerWorld applied to making these cars just run reliably, let alone run at the front.”

This is the last race of the year, which means that it’s also the race before the series’ most important race of the year, the 2018 season opener at Daytona. Do you have any plans for 2018 that you can divulge?

James Clay: “We have already indicated previously, but we are full speed ahead on a GT4 program with the BMW M4. We should have the first of our cars soon, and we’re eager to get testing!”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

Both BimmerWorld BMWs Finish in the Top 10 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

BWR No. 81 - Both BimmerWorld BMWs Finish in the Top 10 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

BimmerWorld Racing came away with a sixth- and an eighth-place finish in the Street Tuner (ST) class Saturday in the four-hour IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, Calif.

Two Californians — Ari Balogh of Menlo Park and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco — finished sixth in the Dublin, Va.-based team’s Powerflex No. 81, a turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis).

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver, Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C., finished eighth with the OPTIMA Batteries No. 84. Unofficially, Clay and Cooke are now tied for fourth place in the ST point standings with four other drivers heading into the season finale Oct. 4-7 during the Petit Le Mans weekend at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga.

Clay qualified fifth in the field of 17 Street Tuner cars on Friday with a time of 1:39.614, just 0.856 off the pole for the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course. He vaulted into third on the first lap, set the car’s fastest lap of the race on lap two with a 1:40.780, moved into second place by lap three and even led eight laps from laps 22 through 29.

Clay was second when he pitted about one hour and 11 minutes into the race, but a problem with the car’s hood pin caused the right side of its hood to come up as Cooke was beginning his stint. Cooke was forced to pit about 10 minutes later so the pit crew could make repairs, but an even bigger problem occurred when another driver made contact with him at the exit of Turn 5 around lap 49, causing Cooke to spin. That pushed Cooke back to 12th place and forced the team to play catch-up the rest of the way, eventually securing eighth place.

The No. 81 topped the charts in the second practice session on Friday afternoon with Liefooghe’s 1:39.865, and Balogh qualified 11th later on Friday with a 1:40.334. Balogh was scored in the top-10 during most of his stint in Saturday’s race and had just been passed by his teammate, Cooke, for seventh place when he pitted around lap 83 for Liefooghe to take over. Liefooghe was sixth with one hour remaining and was able to hang on to finish the race in that position. Liefooghe set his car’s fastest lap of the race on lap 107 with a 1:40.745.

Saturday’s race will be shown on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Oct. 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT. More information can be found on the series’ Web site at imsa.com.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “We had to figure out a lot of different factors this weekend with it being a longer endurance race. I think we did a really good job taking those factors into account and had some fast cars going into the race that could last the full four hours.

“There was weird stuff going on, and it is what it is, but I want to figure out what happened. I honestly think we should have finished better than we did; we were running strong all weekend, and I think we should have finished up front.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “This was very frustrating for us. We went out and our hood came up not even five laps in, so we had to bring the car right in to fix it. The guys got us back out there, and we fought our way back up but just couldn’t keep it. I’m looking forward to Road Atlanta. We had a fast car here, and I think we will have a fast car there to finish the season.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.: “I was really looking forward to this race. Although it was an endurance race for us, it was short enough that we could go all out. We had a good car, so it was a lot of fun.

“Road Atlanta has a lot of grip, so I’m looking forward to it. Our car has been good all season, so it should be a fun race and we can hopefully bring some hardware home for the BimmerWorld team.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing to Tackle the Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca This Weekend

Corkscrew - Bimmerworld Racing to Tackle the Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca This Weekend

BimmerWorld Racing is looking forward to tackling the famous Corkscrew turn at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and perhaps even move up in the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge point standings in the four-hour race at the renowned track near Monterey, Calif. this Saturday afternoon. The Dublin, Va.-based team will field two turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) in the Street Turner class for the race, which starts at 2 p.m. local time, 5 p.m. Eastern.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver, Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C., are currently fourth in the point standings with their OPTIMA Batteries No. 84 BMW. Two home-state drivers, Ari Balogh of Menlo Park and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco, will share the team’s Powerflex No. 81 BMW.

Three practice sessions will be held on Friday at 11:45 a.m., 4:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. EDT. Qualifying for the 17 Street Tuner cars will follow at 8:30 p.m., while the 15 Grand Sport cars entered will qualify 15 minutes later. The race, one of only two four-hour events for the series this year, will start at 5 p.m. after a pre-race open-grid fan walk at 3:50 p.m. All of those times are Eastern.

Live video streaming and live timing and scoring will be offered on imsa.com and imsa.tv. The race will also air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Oct. 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT.

This year is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 60th anniversary. Do you have a favorite moment or memory about this track that you can share?

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “We’ve been racing at Laguna Seca since 2003. It’s really an iconic and challenging track, and it’s a lot of fun. But in those years, nothing very special stands out — so maybe it’s time to change that with our first F30 win!”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “Last year, Eric Foss and I had a really good battle for third right to the checkered flag. It gave the fans a good show to watch with the two of us sliding around and bumping. It’s really cool that my 60th race is at Laguna during its 60th anniversary.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.: “I’ve had lots of great memories there with BimmerWorld. We finished on the podium twice, and every time it’s been a hard-fought battle. I think the overall experience that you get at Laguna makes the best memories with the track being so close to Monterey and the weather always being great. Typical California!”

This track is famous for its Corkscrew turn. What is that like to drive?

James Clay: “This is a fantastic piece of pavement. In the past, I’ve pointed the car at some tree at the top, but these days it’s a feel thing on placement. Then it’s about as close as we get in a race car to jumping out of an airplane when you launch off the top.”

Tyler Cooke: “It takes your breath away the first time you do it. Turn 9 in the car really doesn’t feel like it drops that much, but when you walk the track you can tell the elevation. The Corkscrew is really special. If you ever run nose to tail or even sometimes side by side, you’ll get how that corner can reward or destroy you.”

Greg Liefooghe: “It’s always a lot of fun to drive this section. Turn 9 has a few line interpretations that depend on the car handling, which makes it an unusual corner, and T10 has a lot of camber at the apex. It takes a few laps to understand how much grip there is at that point of the track.”

The Corkscrew gets all the publicity, but is there another turn at Laguna that you think is especially challenging?

James Clay: “The most challenging for me is Turn 6. It’s so fast, with a cambered apex that requires the right touch of brake to get sucked into. I usually go ahead and get my off there done in the first session.”

Tyler Cooke: “Turns 3, 4, 5. It’s a flowing section of the track and a fun few corners to battle. You know when you get all of those right.”

Greg Liefooghe: “Turn 9 for me is the best corner on the track. When you get used to the blindness of the corner, the Corkscrew is just an easy, on-camber, slow-speed turn. Turn 9’s camber changes three times through the corners, which makes it challenging.”

Mazdas have earned five of the six podium positions in Street Tuner here for the last two years.  What will it take to beat them?

James Clay: “The low grip and number of transitions reward the Mazdas, or they have over the past few years. We were strong there last year though, finishing right off the podium, and we have solid cars that should do well in this longer, four-hour race. Now we just need that piece of luck to go with it.”

Tyler Cooke: “Pace and reliability. This is a four-hour race, and these cars are made to do two. Yes, Daytona was a four-hour as well, but it doesn’t have the stress on the car like Laguna. It’s going to come down to who’s there at the end.”

Greg Liefooghe: “I think we need them to break down. On a two-hour race at Laguna, the Mazdas usually lap all the field but four or five cars, so I’m expecting them to be hard to beat.”

IMSA has changed the length of this year’s race to a longer, four-hour format. How does your strategy change compared to the more common two-hour Continental Tire races this year?

James Clay: “We are sticking with two drivers per car for this event. As we close out the championship, we are minimizing our variables, so for us, hopefully the only difference is driving twice as long.”

Tyler Cooke: “It’ll come down to stretching the fuel as far as possible and not abusing equipment. If we can keep the car under us, we can battle to the end.”

Greg Liefooghe: “I love the four-hour format; it’s a lot of fun with more possible strategies than the usual one-stop, two-hour race. The winning strategy usually involves being the first one to do the last pit stop while still being able to finish the race on fuel. Laguna might be different. The tires get absolutely eaten up in a matter of a few laps, so having fuel AND tires at the end of the race will be important.”

James and Tyler, you’re fourth in the point standings, and still in the running for the championship. What will it take to move up? How optimistic are you?

James Clay: “We’ll have our heads down for another solid finish. The cars have never been better, and Tyler and I are clicking along. I like our chances.”

Tyler Cooke: “It’s a stretch, but we need a podium or win to move up and have the top two [entries] finish not so well. Crazy things have happened in racing, so we will see.

“Last year we had to drive through a lot of variables. James got hit hard during his stint last year, which bent the shock, and we had oil dripping on the tires. We feel like we have a better package this year to charge harder.”

Greg, you’re from San Francisco, and this is the only time the series competes in California. What is different about competing in your “home” race? Will you have family and friends on hand?

Greg Liefooghe: “It’s great to have a race on the West Coast. It would be great to have more. I would love to see Sonoma on the calendar as well. It’s also great to not have to travel for 12 hours to get to the track! We’ll have a lot of friends coming to see the race; lots of fun!”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing Finishes Second and Fifth At Its Home Track, VIR

BimmerWorld Racing Finishes Second and Fifth At Its Home Track, VIR

The BimmerWorld Racing team recorded its best results so far this year in the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge series when it won the pole and placed second and fifth with its two turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis) Street Tuner cars Saturday at its home track, VIRginia International Raceway.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. finished second in the Biscuitville Grand Prix with their OPTIMA Batteries No. 84, with a gap of just 1.352 seconds after two hours of competition.

Clay won the pole on Friday with a time of 2:03.584 and an average speed of 95.255 miles per hour. The car that eventually won qualified second and got the jump on the initial start, but Clay powered back into the lead before the first lap was completed and then led every lap of his stint. He stretched that lead to over three seconds at times before turning the car over to Cooke under a full-course caution with 56 minutes remaining in the race.

Cooke started his stint as the class leader after a strong pit stop, but the car that eventually won got the upper hand on a restart on lap 32 with 48 minutes to go. Cooke set the car’s fastest lap of the race on lap 43 with a 2:05.026. He stayed in second place through his entire stint, and the strong finish moved the pair up to fourth in the point standings.

The No. 84 led the most laps for the second race in a row, topping the charts for 30 circuits to the winner’s 21.

Clay was also able to come through for the governor of Virginia who had a friendly bet with the governor of North Carolina over whose state’s driver would finish higher. Clay was second, while the N.C. governor’s choice finished 12th.

The Dublin, Va.-based team’s Powerflex BMW No. 81 also recorded its best finish of the season when Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif. and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco came in fifth. Balogh qualified seventh and then had a spectacular save after an off-course excursion at the start. He was in 13th place when he pitted for Liefooghe to take over, but Liefooghe was back in seventh by lap 33 when the second yellow came out after speedy pit work, some attrition, and good restarts. He moved into sixth on lap 42 with 16 minutes remaining by passing Andrew Carbonell, and fifth on lap 49 with just 2:50 to go by passing James Vance. Liefooghe set the entry’s fastest race lap on lap 44 with a 2:05.285.

The race will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Sept. 3 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Eastern.

Only two more events remain in the 2017 season: Sept. 22-24 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, Calif., and Oct. 4-7 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. For more information, see imsa.com.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“This is our home track, so we know the track and had the car set up well for it. Things have leveled out a little bit, so we have a good car in the field, and that’s super important. We were certainly hoping for a win at Road America, but the weather interfered. We were obviously hoping for the win today, and we just didn’t have the speed for the Nissan at the restart. We got jumped and couldn’t catch back up and couldn’t get around them — they drove a great race. I’m super proud of our team. Two cars in the top five; it was a pretty solid weekend. We have two more before the end of the year, so let’s see if we can win one of those.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We had an awesome car throughout the whole weekend, and the track took a big change in my stint, so the car fell off a little different than we wanted it. It got really loose, and the track was ripping up with bits of the track surface digging into the tires. There was a lot of stuff going on, but it was a really fun battle with Owen [Trinkler]. He just had more straight line [speed] than me. I was trying my best through the corners, but he would just get down the straightaway a little better. Second place, home track — I’m pumped for that. It helped us in the points and helped us going into Laguna. We’re pretty good at Laguna, so here’s hoping for the best there.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
“I think it was a good race. It was definitely a battle from start to finish. You know, it’s funny, here the cars are all equal in terms of pace, but they all make their speed very differently, so it makes the race seem very interesting but very challenging at the same time. It was definitely a battle to come up through the pack. Ari was running really well. Unfortunately, there was something that happened at the end of the back straight, and we lost a bunch of positions there, but he ran a really good stint. The guys did great on the pit stop, and we gained a few positions there and then we moved up to P5, so it was a good day.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing Is Excited for Their Home-track Race at VIR

BimmerWorld Racing Is Excited for Their Home-track Race at VIR

Southern hospitality will be very evident at the BimmerWorld Racing transporter this weekend as the two-car team from Dublin, Va. competes at its home track, VIRginia International Raceway.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. plan to show the Street Tuner (ST) field the way around the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course with their No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis). The drivers of their sister car, Californians Ari Balogh and Greg Liefooghe, will be working hard to make it a one-two finish for BimmerWorld in Saturday’s 2-hour Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race with their No. 81 Powerflex BMW, although they’d prefer if the order was reversed. Last year Balogh and Liefooghe finished second in this race on a surface that had been recently repaved.

Clay won the pole at the series’ most recent race and led the most laps. He’s anxious to get right to work on Friday when two practice sessions will be held at 10:25 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. before qualifying sessions that evening. The two BimmerWorld BMWs and 16 other ST cars qualify at 6:55 p.m. while the 14 Grand Sport cars entered in the race qualify 15 minutes later to determine the starting lineup for Saturday’s race. Fans can walk among the cars on the grid at 1:15 p.m. Saturday before the track is cleared and the green flag drops at 2:10 p.m.

Live video streaming and live timing and scoring can be viewed on imsa.com and imsa.tv. The race will also air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Sept. 3 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. All times are Eastern.

What do you like best about VIR?

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “I love VIR primarily because, as the saying goes, ‘there’s no place like home.’ And more than VIR being our closest and home track, everyone at the facility just goes above and beyond to make you feel welcome. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that our home track is a world-class facility that’s also one of my favorites to drive and race. It’s a real track, rooted in history, where you have to lay it on the line a little to be fast, and I really like that kind of track.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “I really like that the track was an old farm. You can see all the architecture from the old farm as well. It’s a very unique track and one of the coolest ones on the schedule.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.: “VIR is the best track in the United States. It has everything from high speed to low speed, curb hopping, technical parts, flowing parts. The layout is just so much fun to drive.”

Last year new track records were set in both classes with new pavement here, even though it was a wet race. If it’s dry, how likely do you think those records will be broken?

James Clay: “Every year our cars and the IMSA ST field get faster. I’m confident that, weather-dependent, we’ll see track records fall again this year.”

Tyler Cooke: “I think there will be a good chance it will be broken. This year alone we’ve broken quite a few track records.”

Greg Liefooghe: “It will be interesting to see what happens. In this competitive series, the cars go about 1 second quicker per lap every year. Having said that, the pavement hasn’t aged very well and doesn’t seem to have the amazing amount of grip that it had last year.”

How well suited is the VIR circuit for the BMW 328i (F30 chassis)?

James Clay: “This seems to be a good track for our cars and is certainly a good track for our drivers. As is expected, we spend more time here than any other track with our cars, and I anticipate we’ll be dialed in and ready to run at the front.”

Tyler Cooke: “Very good; we’ve always had a fast car there, just not the luck. It’s BimmerWorld’s home track, so we know how to make this thing run up front.”

Greg Liefooghe: “I think VIR will be a great track for our BMW. The car goes really well over curbs, the brakes are great, and we’re making good power to go up the massive back straight. I’m cautiously optimistic about our potential for a good result.”

Do you have a favorite VIR memory that you can share?

James Clay: “I have so many awesome VIR memories, so it’s hard to pick just one. Ultimately, I love the zen of this track, and my favorite memory is probably not a racing one. In the fall, in the late afternoon, when the sun is setting early and the track is cool and fast, I’ve had the opportunity to lap the track a few times in impressive machinery, and there is just something about those solo laps, with no traffic or other disruptions, that approaches perfection for me.”

Tyler Cooke: “My first ever car race outside of Florida was there in 2010, and the crazy elevation changes boggled my mind. It was definitely a track that started out with a good memory and has made many more.”

Greg Liefooghe: “Last year’s race was a lot of fun and a complete adventure. An unexpected storm brought complete chaos and we were able to take advantage of it and finish on the podium. It was definitely one for the history books.”

What would you say to anyone who is thinking about coming out to your race at VIR?

Tyler Cooke: “The race is just a great one to watch. The cars fall off a lot because of the heat, so it really comes down to a driver’s race and who can make the car last at the end.”

Greg Liefooghe: “Depending on the speed of the car, the uphill esses can be boring or the absolute best set of corners in the country. The braking zone at the end of the back straight is another highlight of the track.”

There will be a BMW Car Corral at VIR. Will you interact with it in any way? If so, how?

James Clay: “Our BMW people are always at our races in numbers, and it will be cool to see all the home crowd at this race. We have an official meet-and-greet on Saturday, but we’re looking forward to seeing friends all weekend long.”

Tyler Cooke: “James and I love talking to the BMW Corral. At the end of the day, they help us do what we do by giving us their support. We’ll talk and show them the ins and outs of the race team.”

Greg Liefooghe: “BimmerWorld has a ton of fans in the BMW Club, and with this race being our home race, friends and fans will be numerous. It’ll be exciting to share our experience with them.”

VIR has a wide variety of shooting facilities, including two skeet ranges. Have you ever participated in this type of activity? Have you ever done any other activity other than race at VIR? If so, what?

James Clay: “VIR has a lot more than just the track facilities. I’ve done karting, off-road courses, and both standard-range and long-range shooting. I’m still itching to get my hands on one of the old cop cars to run at nights with the lights off, which was at one time a standard part of one of their training programs.”

Tyler Cooke: “I did some shooting and it was interesting. I’m not a great shooter by any means, but it was cool to take part in it. The go-kart track is a very fun time with all the elevation changes and tight corners. It makes for some great racing.”

Greg Liefooghe: “We’ve had some fun go-kart races at the kart track. I definitely recommend it!”

Greg, last year you and Ari finished second in ST here in a Porsche. What will it take to get on the podium again this year with your BMW?

Greg Liefooghe: “We have a good car this year, and I think we’ll just need to put all the pieces together.”

Our race’s sponsor is Biscuitville, a quick-service chain in North Carolina and Virginia that serves Southern-inspired food. What is your favorite Southern dish?

James Clay: “We just visited the Biscuitville corporate headquarters last week with a car, and they are certainly one of our favorite places to grab breakfast in the area. I’ll narrow it down a little — my favorite biscuit Southern dish is biscuits and sausage gravy, or if I’m cooking country ham also, red-eye gravy.”

Tyler Cooke: “Eggs and biscuits! I got to meet everyone at the headquarters’ office, and they are some real race fans. I’m looking forward to seeing them all there!”

Greg Liefooghe: “What iz zis Southern food you speak of?”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing Dominates Road America’s Rain-Shortened Race, Finishing Sixth

BimmerWorld Racing Dominates Road America’s Rain-Shortened Race, Finishing Sixth

BimmerWorld Racing’s James Clay won the pole and then dominated Saturday’s IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race at Road America in the Street Tuner (ST) class, but when the two-hour race was halted with 47:37 remaining due to lightning in the area, and never restarted, he and co-driver Tyler Cooke ended up finishing sixth. Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., led 23 of the race’s 28 laps.

Clay turned his No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis) over to Cooke, of Matthews, N.C., under a full-course caution flag for an accident with 56:16 to go, and the entry dropped to sixth due to the pit stop. Cooke was poised to continue at the front, but the race never restarted, and the pit cycle was never completed by a small portion of the field. The weather worsened and the red flag was displayed before the officials eventually called the race completion early.

Clay had started Saturday’s events by capturing the pole with a time of 2:31.288. During the race, the 84 BMW and the 73 MINI of Derek Jones broke away from the field early, with Clay maintaining the lead for the duration of his stint. Unfortunately, in what seemed to be a dominant performance, several cars on track maintained track position having not completed their required pit stop and were declared winners of the shortened event.

BimmerWorld Racing’s No. 81 Powerflex BMW finished right where it started, 11th in ST. Its starting driver, Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif., ran in the top 10 throughout his stint, but he had to make an emergency pit stop for fuel on lap 24 when the pits were closed. The rules stipulate that he would have had to stop again to allow his co-driver, Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco, to get behind the wheel, but the red flag precluded Liefooghe from getting in the car.

The race can be seen on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Aug. 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

The next event will be held at BimmerWorld’s home track, Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., Aug. 25-27.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We had a fantastic car during a trying weekend, and we were able to put together a really solid car for the race. It obviously ran really well. We knew the weather was going to be variable, and I was fine with that. We ran well in the wet and ran well in the dry, and the variable weather put us in odd situations where we were clearly in a position to be on that podium, if not the top step. The weather put us in a situation where nobody knows who should be up there. It almost feels like they threw something on the wall to see what sticks, and that’s what happens. I know it’s a difficult situation all around, and I know nobody is probably really thrilled with how it shook out. It was a disappointment for us.

“The car was great in the dry and great in qualifying this morning. We clearly had the speed. I was a little cautious because of wanting to keep the car on track and not cause damage because that would have been the only thing to cause problems today. I lost that lead for a lap, but I regained it when the other car went a little wide. I hit marks all race long. We had a car to do that at speed. It would be great to have seen it execute all the way through the duration of the race with whatever the weather brought us and without a red flag and oddball stuff.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We got here on Thursday and practice got rained out because of lightning and all that, so we had no time on Thursday. On Friday morning it rained so much you could barely drive on the track on rain tires, so James did about a lap and I did an out and in lap and that’s all we had. Friday afternoon James had two laps and I had two laps, and we got the car pretty dialed in for wet-turning-dry conditions.

“This morning it was a dry track for the 20-minute session. James got two laps and I got two laps and he qualified on the pole. I don’t know what the official outcome of this race is going to be because all the cars that finished on the podium didn’t have their second drivers in yet. I don’t know what’s going on. We’re in the thick of the points hunt, so we really hope to see the results that jive with what we saw on track today.

“We were super confident going into the race. That’s the frustrating part. We had a car that could win. It’s a very confusing thing.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
“We didn’t get to drive a whole lot this weekend. Weather was the real story this weekend. Thursday was pretty much canceled. Friday was more or less a shake down because we thought the race was going to be dry so we didn’t focus too much on anything and just went out there to make sure everything worked well. Then this morning we had the chance to feel out the car in the dry.

“I think one of the positives of the weekend was Ari doing a good job in qualifying. He was really close to the top guys’ lap times. Everybody was really stacked up within a half second of each other in a really competitive field. The car was really good, so it’s too bad I didn’t get to race.

“Regarding the rain, it was the same for everybody, so you just have to drive what you have. I’m not sure how the results will come out but probably how it ended. Even though some cars pitted for driver changes and some did not, nobody broke any rules, so it will likely just stick how it is and be a bit of luck of the draw of how cars pitted and when the race ended.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing Has Momentum Heading Into Road America

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.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing Captures Podium Finish at the Lime Rock Park 120 Race

BimmerWorld Racing Captures Podium Finish at the Lime Rock Park 120 Race

BimmerWorld Racing owner James Clay and co-driver Tyler Cooke recorded their best finish of the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge series so far this year when they placed third in the Street Tuner (ST class) Saturday at Lime Rock Park with their BimmerWorld Racing No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis).

Ari Balogh and Greg Liefooghe also had an excellent result in the two-hour contest, as they placed sixth in a similar car fielded by the Dublin, Va.-based team, the No. 81 Powerflex BMW, to duplicate their best result of the season to date.

Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., qualified fourth, just 0.360 of a second off the pole-winning time for the 1.53-mile, seven-turn road course about 100 miles from New York City. He set the car’s fastest lap of the race on lap four and remained in fourth place throughout his stint until he led four laps around the halfway mark when the top three cars pitted under green. He pitted shortly thereafter for fuel, fresh Continental tires, and to turn the car over to teammate Cooke, of Matthews, N.C.

Cooke was back in fourth place only seven laps later. He advanced to third on lap 102 with about 14:20 remaining when the drivers who had been second and third tangled in front of him. The one who had been third got the worse end of that tussle and ended up in a tire barrier, and a little later Cooke brought his BMW home for the final podium position.

Balogh, of Menlo Park, Calif., qualified 16th but he’d advanced to ninth before most of his rivals began their pit stops, and he was fourth when he pitted under green to turn his BMW over to Liefooghe, of San Francisco. The latter was ninth at the halfway point before rising to sixth at the finish despite a track that was getting more slippery by the minute.

The race will be shown on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, July 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Eastern. The next event is Aug. 3-6 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. More information is available at imsa.com.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“I think we probably got what we could have gotten today, and maybe a little bit more. We definitely didn’t have the pace of the MX-5s on the track, but we had a good pace. We had two consistent cars. We were more consistent than I thought we’d be. The car didn’t fall off, and that was one of our biggest concerns. We were able to gap everybody behind us and keep the car in a good position to turn it over to Tyler. Tyler had a heck of a drive, and we’re pretty happy.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“Not bad. Finishing third at Lime Rock is like a win for pretty much any car in the field. It was a great race. The track really fell off at the end, but we were running a consistent pace. We held it in fourth and then moved into third.

“The guys did an amazing job. We had a short time period to get this car ready, but they nailed it. Hats off to BimmerWorld, all the sponsors, and BMW North America.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
“The car was good. We didn’t have the pace in qualifying but in the race, we were really good. I think we can be happy with the results. The car ran really well. We found some speed this weekend. I’m pretty happy. Ari drove the first stint very well, and the car was really good.

“I think Road America is going to be a good track for us. We’re a little bit more of a power car than a handling car, so we might have a little bit of an advantage there so we’re looking forward to that.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing Ready to Rock at the Lime Rock Park 120

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.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing Leads Most Laps And Finishes Fifth in ST at CTMP

BimmerWorld Racing Leads Most Laps And Finishes Fifth in ST at CTMP

The BimmerWorld Racing OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis) No. 84 of Tyler Cooke and team owner James Clay led more laps than any other car in the Street Tuner (ST) class during Saturday’s IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP, aka Mosport), and finished fifth in class in the two-hour contest.

Cooke, of Matthews, N.C., qualified just 0.154 off the pole, took the lead going into Turn 1 on the first lap, and led the first 35 laps. At one point, his lead was over 8 seconds over his nearest rival before he pitted for fuel, fresh Continental tires, and for Clay to take over under the race’s sole full-course caution. Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., started his stint in second place. He dropped to fourth during a fierce battle around lap 44, and still finished fifth despite getting hit at least twice in the very heated competition.

Despite a heroic effort by the BimmerWorld crew to make repairs, the No. 84’s sister car, the Powerflex No. 81 driven by Californians Ari Balogh and Greg Liefooghe was withdrawn from the event after an accident Friday in the first practice session. Luckily, Balogh was not hurt.

Highlights of the race will be shown on Fox Sports 1 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, July 15.

The action moves to Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. July 21-22. More information can be found on IMSA.com and BimmerWorldRacing.com.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It’s frustrating. You can say we had more progress, yet it feels like we’re slowly falling backward. If you look at the straight speeds, the Mazdas are clearly down, but they make it up in the turns. Our car is heavy, so we’re not where we used to be in the speed charts, and by the end of the stint, you’re just hanging onto the car.

“It was a good effort for what we had. Tyler did a heck of a job, but when things start to get hot and heavy in that second stint, we just don’t have the same speed. Once the sun came out and temps went up, we knew it wasn’t going to be good for us.

“I have a couple strengths on this track, and I exercised those strengths. It worked perfectly fine a lot of times, but a couple guys out there just didn’t want to be side by side in the turns, which is really unfortunate. I had a fully clean car up until this race, and this is not really how I prefer to race. Nobody likes to play the game like this.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We worked hard on the setup to get ready for qualifying and lost the pole by a tenth, but the team worked really worked hard, and they gave us a great car for this race. Things just didn’t play out to our favor. James had some contact, but it wasn’t his fault. Hats off to the team. I can’t thank them enough. They really buckled down and gave us a great car, and we ran in the top five.

“Hopefully, Lime Rock might be a little better, and we’re off to a great start to the rest of the summer.

“COTA is always our bad track, but we were running up front there as well before the car just kind of went away from us. But in the period we had off from racing, the guys really busted their butts and made some big changes that have really improved the car. We’re witnessing that now. So hats off to the team, our sponsors, and the fans.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

Both BimmerWorld Racing BMWs Finish in the Top 10 at Watkins Glen

Both BimmerWorld Racing BMWs Finish in the Top 10 at Watkins Glen

Both BimmerWorld Racing turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis) race cars finished in the top 10 in the Street Tuner class Saturday at Watkins Glen International in the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race.

Californians Ari Balogh of Menlo Park and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco came from a 17th-place starting position with their Powerflex-sponsored No. 81 to finish seventh in class in the two-hour race for the Dublin, Va.-based team.

Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. qualified third in the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries car that he shares with team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. Things started off well for Cooke when he charged into second place on the opening lap, but seconds later the car’s right-front wheel fell off. Cooke slowed in Turn 6 and made it back to the pits, but the entry lost a lap before repairs were made and he could return to the fray. The duo played catch-up the rest of the way, made up the lap, and made it back up to ninth before time ran out.

Balogh got a good start, rising to 13th initially. He had advanced to ninth when the event was red-flagged around the halfway point due to lightning in the area. The team’s pit stop and driver change went well, and Liefooghe started his stint in tenth place. He moved into eighth with four minutes remaining when Spencer Pumpelly lost power in Turn 9 on lap 38. Liefooghe advanced to seventh on the following lap when he passed Connor Bloum. Both drivers managed their Continental tires well and Liefooghe’s fastest lap came late, on lap 37.

Once he had four wheels again, Cooke set his car’s fastest lap of the race on lap nine while he was 21st and last in class. He was 18th during the red-flag period and was 16th with 46:22 remaining. Clay then started his stint and got the lap back around lap 30 while in 13th. He was 11th by lap 32, and with 9:15 to go, he climbed to tenth, right behind Liefooghe. Pumpelly’s misfortune gave them both another spot, and Clay took the checkered flag in ninth place.

The race will be shown on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, July 9 from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern.

The action moves to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario next weekend. More information can be found on IMSA.com and BimmerWorldRacing.com.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was a solid day but certainly a trying day. The whole weekend leading up to this has been a little bit variable. We’ve had some red flags, weather, and we came here without a promoter test day. We also arrived with a new setup. We needed to perfect it, and we didn’t necessarily get the time, but it turned out better than I would have thought. We had good, capable cars to race with. We had a wheel fall off, and Tyler did a heck of a job recovering, keeping his head straight while driving.

“The guys diagnosed the problem, got it resolved, and got the car back on track. We had great pit strategy and got a lap back, and at the end, we had something left to race through the field. Given what we were dealing with this weekend, I couldn’t be happier, but overall we didn’t get exactly what we wanted.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We went from third to second at the start, which was great. The team has worked really hard this weekend, and it was a little boost to be running second.

“I had a huge vibration on the front end. The typical vibration we’ve been having all weekend was due to the brakes, so we kind of chocked it up to the brakes. Turning into the corner, the only thing that was weird to me was that going up to the esses it felt like the front end was floating, I wasn’t getting any grip, and I was starting to really save the car through there. I thought, ‘This is weird.’

“I came off the gas in the ‘Carousel,’ and the front end did a big wobble, and going into the Laces the front wheel passed me. First off, kudos to the front wheel — it just beat me. But second, it was a real bummer!

“I got the car back to the pits, and the team worked really hard, got a new wheel on, and we went back out and got our lap back. James got up to ninth. So to come away with a ninth after all that wasn’t bad. I mean, what a rainstorm… everything that could have happened in that race happened.

“Thanks to all the fans who stuck it out there through the rain. That’s what you call dedication. We can’t be here without them. Thanks also to our sponsors; without them, we wouldn’t be here either. Thanks to the team. Mosport is in a week; I’m looking forward to it.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
“We were fighting a little bit of a turbo issue the whole weekend. The car was fast but it was very specific to drive so it took me a few laps to get used to it. In this series, if you breathe through a couple laps, you’re going backward. So I went backward, settled, and after that, the car was really, really good. Hats off to the guys. I think we could have done better if I wouldn’t have lost so much right at the start.

“It’s hard to race like this, but the car was clearly fast. I wish it could have been a little better, but I think it’s good for going into Mosport; the car is in one piece, and I think we made some progress on the chassis.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Racing Ready for Busy Summer Schedule Starting with Watkins Glen Saturday, July 1

BimmerWorld-Racing-Ready-for-Busy-Summer-Schedule-Starting-with-Watkins-Glen-Saturday,-July-1

The old Nat King Cole song that speaks of “those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” had one thing wrong where BimmerWorld Racing is concerned. Although the summer may have just begun, and it may bring hazy skies and crazy on-track action, it’s hardly lazy for the Dublin, Va.-based team and its fellow competitors in the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge (ICTSC) series. Beginning with a two-hour race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. on Saturday, July 1, the team will field two turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis) cars in four ICTSC races over six weeks.

That’s not all team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his associates have on their plates, either. Clay just returned from Germany where he participated in the team’s first running of the Nürburgring 24-hour race in late May, and he just finished up the team’s first attempt at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado.

“Both have been amazing experiences for me personally as well as for our team,” Clay said. “I’ve definitely stepped outside my normal box this year, and I’m sure the experiences will expand our horizons as a business and my skill set as a driver. It’s been an insanely busy spring, and I’m looking forward to this coming stretch of IMSA races where things get back to normal!

“Our BimmerWorld team has fantastic depth, and I have a good group of managers, engineers, and partners all driving the team forward,” he added. “I’ve been focused on an array of other activities, but I stay involved in the race business, and the core guys of this team keep doing their part to ensure we’re well-prepared for this coming stretch of races.

“We have solid cars this year and even with some issues, we’re at the front on any given weekend. We just need to string some of those together in the coming cluster of races to move the cars to the top of the season standings. We have good tracks coming for our cars, and I think we’re all more optimistic than ever.”

One thing is certain — the BimmerWorld drivers love to compete at Watkins Glen.

The Continental Tire 120 at The Glen has attracted 15 Grand Sport (GS) entries and 21 entries in the class that BimmerWorld competes in, Street Tuner (ST).

There are two practice sessions scheduled for 2:55 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. on Friday. ST qualifying is at 1:35 p.m. and GS qualifying is at 1:50 p.m. on Friday. Saturday’s schedule shows the open-grid fan walk at 1:20 p.m., and the two-hour race starting at 2:25 p.m. All times are Eastern.

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 9 from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Where does Watkins Glen stand on your list of tracks?

“I love Watkins for the scenic views from the top of the hill. I can clearly remember the view going into Turn 1 the first time I raced this track. It’s fast and flowing, with enough technical components to make it a fun challenge.”

Is there any attraction, restaurant or hotel in the area that you’re looking forward to re-visiting?
“If the weather is nice, I’ll be looking for a hike in the falls, followed by a trip to Great Escapes for ice cream!”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
The schedule is intense now, with four races in six weeks. How have you been preparing for this?

“Practicing on the simulator, getting ready for the tracks we are going to, and doing as much endurance training as possible.”

What will be the keys to doing well here, particularly with your BMW?
“How we keep the tires under us and stretching the fuel as far as possible are the keys points to manage at The Glen. The guys did a great stop at COTA and now at Watkins, we can possibly capitalize on it. It’s a good track for us.”

What other track that you’ve raced on is most like Watkins Glen?
“It’s not easy to compare because it has its own features. The high speed of a Road America and Road Atlanta, the bus stop of Daytona, and the slow speed of VIR come to mind.”

Where does Watkins Glen stand on your list of tracks?
“Watkins Glen is in my top five. It’s a track that always has good racing and it’s a technical track as well. They’re many different corners that really make the track challenging.”

What are your thoughts on racing at such a historical circuit like Watkins Glen? How does it feel to walk in the shoes of some of the sport’s most famous drivers?
“You can really feel the history of this place watching videos of old famous cars driven by the heroes of racing, driving the same corners we drive today. Of course, we have more safety measures today, but not much else has changed.”

Is there any attraction, restaurant or hotel in the area that you’re looking forward to re-visiting?
“Hiking the Falls is always something I look forward to and eating at Jerlando’s Italian in Watkins Glen.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
The schedule is intense now, with four races in six weeks. How have you been preparing for this?

“I’ve been lucky enough to race in World Challenge as well this season, and there’s no better preparation for a driver than to keep racing!”

What will be the keys to doing well here, particularly with your BMW?
“Our BMW should be good around Watkins. There are a lot of elevation changes and especially a lot of corner exits that are uphill, which means the torque from our turbos will help coming out of those specific corners.”

What other track that you’ve raced on is most like Watkins Glen?
“There really is no comparison to the flowing nature of Watkins Glen. It’s in a league of its own. Since the repaving, the track has major grip. The only track that comes close in that aspect is VIR.”

Where does Watkins Glen stand on your list of tracks?
“Watkins Glen is in my top five. The course has a flow that is just awesome.”

Is there any attraction, restaurant or hotel in the area that you’re looking forward to re-visiting?
“The two main attractions around Watkins Glen are the Seneca Lodge and the Harbor Hotel, without forgetting the Panera Bread in Elmira, which is Tyler’s favorite.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

Both BimmerWorld Racing BMWs Finish in Top 10 at COTA

BimmerWorld Racing No. 81 at COTA 2017

At one point in Friday’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series race at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA), BimmerWorld Racing’s turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) topped the leader board in the Street Tuner (ST) class. The Dublin, Va.-based team ended up finishing sixth and ninth, but it was a podium contender for most of the race and its pit crew arguably turned in the two best pit stops performed during the two-hour event.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va., qualified fifth in the OPTIMA Batteries BMW No. 84 he shares with Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C., and he had elevated his position to third place by lap two. He ran in the top five throughout his stint and had a particularly thrilling battle with Jeff Mosing, one of the co-drivers of the eventual winning Porsche Cayman.

On lap 22, just prior to the driver changes, Clay entered the pits n 4th, with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif. just seconds behind in the team’s sister car, the ShopBMWUSA.com BMW No. 81 that he shares with Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco. Balogh also had great battles during his stint, particularly when he and Roy Block exchanged positions numerous times. Block was driving an Audi that eventually finished third.

After all the pits stops for driver changes, the BimmerWorld team’s tremendous execution leapfrogged Cooke in the No. 84 to the lead of the pack and picked up four spots for Liefooghe on lap 24 with 57 minutes remaining.

Eric Foss got around Cooke shortly thereafter to push the No. 84 back to second, and Spencer Pumpelly wiggled by on lap 29, but Cooke remained in third place until lap 33. Despite some issues, he stayed in the top five until lap 41, with just 12 minutes remaining in the race.

Balogh and Liefooghe had a different approach. They didn’t run with the leaders, but they stayed within striking distance in the top 10. On lap 41, Liefooghe was seventh, right behind Cooke. The two BimmerWorld cars stayed in those positions until the last lap. At that point, Liefooghe advanced one spot to finish sixth, while Cooke dropped back to ninth when his car suffered an engine failure on the last lap of the ever-changing Cinco de Mayo competition.

FOX Sports 1 will showcase the action on Saturday, May 13 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.

The series’ next three events are June 29-July 2 at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y.; July 7-9 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Clarington, Ontario, and July 21-22 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We had a good start and phenomenal pit stop by the guys for both cars. It was awesome to see the team execute at that level. It was hot today, so it was a struggle out there. It wasn’t as hot as it’s ever been here, but the track gets slick and it’s hard to hold on to. Our car seems to fall off a little bit earlier than some of the others. It was just a strategy of hang on to what we have, and we hung on pretty well. At the end of the race, we had an engine failure on the last lap with my car.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We were running up in first and second; the top six or seven cars were all bumper to bumper. It really seemed like it was going to be a positive start, but then we lost the front end of the car where it just wouldn’t turn. Then first and second started to check out, and we thought we’d keep third behind us, but then we really started to lose the rear end of the car and couldn’t put the power down. We ended up falling back more and more. We were running a solid sixth, and we were happy with that. We thought leaving here with a sixth would be really positive for the BMW because this isn’t a BMW track at all. But on the last lap, the engine had an oil pressure problem, so we ended up settling for 9th. But hats off to the team; they worked really hard and made a great pit stop. We did a burnout leaving the pits and got right in front of the No. 56, getting out of the pits first, which was very positive for the team. Now I’m looking forward to our next race at Watkins Glen.”

Greg Liefooghe, driver, No. 81 ShopBMWUSA.com BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We just didn’t have the right set-up. Basically, all the time we could really see the leaders was on the restarts, and then they were gone. We’re not sure what we’re missing, but we know we’re missing grip. The guys worked hard all weekend, but we just couldn’t find the right set-up this week. We’ll look for a better result at The Glen next race.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise and competes in the Continental Tire Series with a pair of BMW 328is (F30) where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and Championship contender.

BimmerWorld Racing Anticipates That Its Homework Pays Off In ICTSC Race at COTA Friday Afternoon

BimmerWorld-Racing-Anticipates-That-Its-Homework-Pays-Off-In-ICTSC-Race-at-COTA-Friday-Afternoon

BimmerWorld Racing anticipates that its homework pays off on Friday when the Dublin, Va.-based team fields two turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) in the IMSA Continental Sportscar Challenge Series (ICTSC) race at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.

Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. won the pole for this event last year in the OPTIMA Batteries BMW No. 84 he shares with team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. The team has worked hard to make additional improvements to that car and its sister car, the ShopBMWUSA.com BMW No. 81 driven by Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif. and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco. That work is bound to pay off, and all involved hope that will be evident when the checkered drops Friday at 4:45 p.m. local time for the two-hour race.

BimmerWorld competes in the Street Tuner (ST) class, which has 17 entries, one more than the Grand Sport (GS) class. There are two practice sessions scheduled for 12:40 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Thursday. A shorter practice session is set for 10:45 a.m. on race day prior to ST qualifying at 11:15 a.m. There won’t be much time between qualifying and the race itself, as the open-grid fan walk follows at 1:50 p.m. and the green flag is slated to drop at 2:45 p.m. All times are local.

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 Saturday, May 13 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
How much confidence does it give you knowing that you had the fastest ST car here last year in qualifying, despite being one of the heaviest cars in the class?

“We had a great COTA [race] last year until we had an electrical problem at the start. This is a tough track to get dialed in for, but we have come a long way on the setup for this F30 BMW platform, and I think we have even improved since last year. I feel good coming into this race weekend.”

What are the best ways to save fuel at COTA?
“With the new shorter race format and reduced capacities still shuffling out, we’re aware we’re at a fuel deficit and that we need to manage fuel wisely. We have very economical cars in some scenarios, but at sprint race pace, they use some fuel. We’ll be keeping a constant eye on savings opportunities, the best of which is running in the draft, but that’s a matter of happenstance more than planning and strategy.”

What do you like best about the COTA configuration? What’s the most challenging part?
“I love the speed and fast flow of the track, but linking the sections correctly is challenging. Turns 2-8 are a massive balancing act of speed, and it’s easy to gain or lose 2 seconds in that section alone depending on approach.”

Last year the series raced at COTA in September, but this year the race is in May. According to the weather service, it’s still likely to be in the eighties. What can you do to stay cool?
“80 in Texas? That is cool! We typically see temps close to 100 and track temps of 120-130 for this race, so 80 is a nice change of pace at COTA. I’ll save the cool shirt for when it’s hot!”

Track grip changes a lot at COTA as the race progresses. Last year the track got very greasy at the end of the race. Is there anything you can do to compensate for this?
“The track was greasier last year due to temperatures, so environmental factors will be more in our favor this year. We’ve been really working to keep the car under us for the duration of the race, and I think we’ll see more long-term consistency from the BimmerWorld cars all season.”

Would you please give us a brief update on what you’ve been doing at the Nürburgring in Germany during the month the series had off?
“I have the opportunity to run the 24-Hour Nürburgring race this year for an OPTIMA Batteries project, and since Sebring, Tyler and I, along with another racing friend, have been zipping back and forth from Germany in addition to other racing and track work. It’s been a real challenge and a lot of fun. If I thought COTA was a long track when we first came here five years ago, I was mistaken! We’ll be racing the 24-Hour later in May at the Ring, and then Pike’s Peak as well before the IMSA season kicks into high gear. It’s quite the year for me as a driver!”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
How much confidence does it give you knowing that you had the fastest ST car here last year in qualifying, despite being one of the heaviest cars in the class?

“It really helps us coming into the weekend and gives us some motivation. Putting the car on the pole really showed all the hard work BimmerWorld has done with the new BMW F30 platform. I think it’s going to be a good race and with a little cooler weather.”

Heavier cars usually have more tire wear than lighter cars. How can you save your tires?
“Rolling speed and trying not to push the car every lap will save tires a little. Running a consistent pace to save the tires and staying with the lead pack until the end to push is what wins races.”

What are the best ways to save fuel at COTA?
“Saving fuel is always something that has to be done. COTA is a hard place to save fuel with the long back straight and the hill climbing to Turn 1; it gives us a good challenge. Rolling the speed and staying off the gas through the corner can help with fuel.”

What do you like best about the COTA configuration? What’s the most challenging part?
“I like the section around the tower. There’s lots of passing from the end of the back straight to the last corner. It’s a good section of the track to watch from because most of the action happens there.”

The race will start just three hours after qualifying. Will this pose any challenges?
“It will for the team getting the car ready to go again. They know what to do, but it’s a tight time frame. It’s going to be hectic, but that’s why we love what we do!”

Greg Liefooghe, driver, No. 81 ShopBMWUSA.com BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Does the fact that the team was fast here last year give you added confidence going into this race?

“I think the guys proved that the car was fast at pretty much every track in qualifying last year. We have a good base, but as usual in this super-competitive series, all the competitors are doing a lot of homework. We were able to improve the car significantly since the start of the year, and we’ve been able to run at the front at the end of the races this year. I’m looking forward to seeing how we stack up at COTA, as we’ve done some homework on our side as well.”

Heavier cars usually have more tire wear than lighter cars. How can you save your tires?
“The most important part of saving the tires is to have a car that’s easy on them. Even though the weight of the car plays a big role, having a great shock package will go a long way. On the driving side, minimizing the slip angle, whether it’s braking or cornering, can help a lot, especially in hot conditions.”

What do you like best about the COTA configuration? What’s the most challenging part?
“What I like the most about COTA is the safety standard of the track. It’s the safest in the United States. There are more than enough inherent risks in this sport and no need to have bare concrete walls around a track. The main challenge around this track is the number of corners, which makes it hard to put a good lap together.”

This race is Round 3 of the Continental Tire Series for 2017. How challenging is the competition in your class this year?
“The competition gets better every year. Between the drivers and the car development happening in the series, the pace has escalated. It’s an exciting place to race for both the driving and the technical part of it.”

Last year the track got very greasy at the end of the race. Is there anything you can do to compensate for this?
“Knowing how the car balance evolves comes at a premium in those conditions. Being able to set up the car to be balanced and have grip at the end of the race will be a big advantage.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld’s BMWs Dominant at Sebring But Settle for Less

BimmerWorlds-BMWs-Dominant-at-Sebring-But-Settle-for-Less-in-Finishing-Positions

BimmerWorld Racing team owner/driver James Clay led every lap of the first half of Friday’s IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway in the Street Tuner division after qualifying second, just 0.182 off the pole. He was able to stretch his lead to over three seconds at one point. Unfortunately, a problem adding fuel to the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis) around the halfway point caused the entry to have an extended pit stop, taking 2:01.695, and Clay’s co-driver, Tyler Cooke, started his stint from 13th place. Cooke then produced a drive that was equally as amazing as Clay’s had been, as he had battled back to sixth place when the checkered dropped at the end of two hours, just 0.035 out of a top-five finish.

The drivers of the No. 84’s sister car, Ari Balogh and Greg Liefooghe, had a totally different approach but they were also left wondering about what could have been with their No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i. Balogh started 14th in class and kept the car out of trouble during his stint, advancing into the top 10. Their car’s pit stop at the halfway point only took 1:28.595 seconds, and Liefooghe started his stint in seventh place.

With 51 minutes to go he cracked the top five on lap 25, and one lap later he passed a Porsche for fourth. Liefooghe stayed in fourth place for the next 14 laps until he was passed on a restart with only 15 minutes remaining. Unfortunately, the top-five finish disappeared with just four minutes remaining when the car ran out of fuel, dropping to 15th at the checkered.

The race will be shown on FOX Sports 1 at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time on Sunday, March 26.

The series takes a month off and then travels to the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, for Round 3 on May 4-6.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“Today’s race was awesome for me. Being at the back of the GS field on the start, I passed about three of the GS cars and that was enough to provide a buffer for me with the other cars behind me, so I was able to maintain a gap. I felt really good about that, and I felt really good about the car we had under us today.

We had an issue with a pit stop and our fueling; something with the dry break nozzle. We haven’t figured it out yet, but the fuel stop was terrible.

We sat there for extra time, and we were fairly confident we got a full load of fuel. The other car had a similar issue. We’re baffled and very frustrated that we had one car that ran out of gas.

I don’t know if that was related to the fueling issue because we know that we’re really short on fuel this year with the fuel tank change and our fuel economy, which seems to have gotten worse. But at least our car finished, and I have to feel good about that.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We had a really strong car. James led a lot of the race, which is a big confidence booster.

There was a lot of hard driving out there. That’s why we race; we race for the intensity, and there was a lot of intense driving out there. It wasn’t easy to come through the pack, but they gave us a great car, and we moved up seven positions, which was stellar. You can’t ask a team for more than that.

It’s really unfortunate for the No. 81 car, because we could have had two very strong finishes, and the team would have had big smiles all around. But now we have to do some homework and get them at COTA. It’s going to be a tough race because it’ll be hot, and it’s really going to test these cars.”

Greg Liefooghe, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“I thought we had a really good pit stop. I think we may have been a little short-filled [with fuel], which is why we had a little lower pit stop time than the other guys.

We moved up at that point. The car was super-strong all race long — super consistent. We didn’t really use the tires. The motor felt good all stint long.

I’m just really disappointed because we were right there. The other guys were super-strong too, but we were definitely able to mix it up with them.

I think we had a podium car. Whether or not we would’ve finished on the podium, I don’t know, but I think we had a fighting chance.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise and competes in the Continental Tire Series with a pair of BMW 328is (F30) where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and Championship contender.

BimmerWorld Has a Myriad of Reasons to Look Forward to Sebring, Including The Fact Its BMWs Are Well Suited for the Track

BimmerWorld-Has-a-Myriad-of-Reasons-to-Look-Forward-to-Sebring,-Including-The-Fact-Its-BMWs-Are-Well-Suited-for-the-Track

BimmerWorld Racing considers the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge series’ annual visit to Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, one of the highlights of the season for five main reasons.

First is the opportunity to compete on a historic track during a historic race weekend, as the series’ two-hour race on Friday afternoon, March 17 supports the following day’s 65th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

The second is that historically the team’s BMWs are well suited for the 3.74-mile road course, taking its long, fast turns and bumpy surface in stride.

The third is that the team has had a great deal of success there, including a pole and a podium finish last year for the entry of team owner James Clay and Tyler Cooke, Greg Liefooghe’s victory and fastest race lap in 2015 in a Porsche, and the fact that Sebring was the site of Cooke’s first victory ever in car racing. Hopes are high that they’ll be able to add to those accomplishments next week.

Fourth, it’s old-home week for several of the team’s drivers, as Cooke grew up in Cooper City, FL; Liefooghe is usually at Sebring ten or more times a year between racing and coaching, and Clay has been racing at Sebring for nearly 20 years.

Finally, the event is a one-of-a-kind spring break party, and the BimmerWorld team enjoys the fact that the fans are definitely part of the show.

The Dublin, VA-based team will field two turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) in the Street Tuner (ST) class for Friday’s race, which starts at 3:40 p.m. Clay, of Blacksburg, VA, and Cooke, of Matthews, NC, share BimmerWorld’s No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i. Two Californians, Ari Balogh of Menlo Park and Liefooghe, of San Francisco, have switched from the Porsche Cayman they drove in the series last year to the No. 84’s sister car, the No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i.

There are two practice sessions on the schedule on Thursday, March 16 at 9:50 a.m. and 2:10 p.m. before the following jam-packed day. The action starts early on Friday, March 17 with a 20-minute practice session at 8 a.m. followed by ST qualifying at 8:30 a.m. and Grand Sport qualifying 15 minutes later. The anticipation builds with the open-grid fan walk from 2:50 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. before the green flag drops 10 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 a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, March 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All times are EDT.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Sebring has a vast history of many great drivers from yesteryear. What’s it like racing at such a historic and renown track like Sebring? How many times have you raced at Sebring before?

“I have been racing at Sebring for almost 20 years now. It was one of the tracks I made the long trip for early in my career. We’ve run the 12-Hour weekend on and off since 2003 and being part of that weekend on this incredible, historic track is one of the highlights of my season.”

Hot temperatures can make Sebring a challenge for a turbo engine. You’ve worked hard to improve your cars’ cooling system. Can you speak about some of the steps you’ve taken in this area?
“This turbo BMW just produces so much heat! It’s a constant battle, but one we seem to be winning. We ran successfully for a podium at a very hot Sebring last year, and our cooling package has been tweaked and improved more since then. One day, we’ll detail all the work we have done in this system because it’s been an engineering exercise that was insanely challenging and probably quite interesting if one wasn’t living through the process. But for now, we reap the rewards.”

In a similar vein, brakes are very important at Sebring. Can you speak about your cars’ brake package?
“Performance Friction has been instrumental in helping us continue to develop our brake package. We have one of the heaviest cars in the series, but we have had arguably the best brakes in the field fairly consistently. We’ve been working hard with PFC in this area, and I think they have made us even better now!”

In general, Sebring seems to suit BMWs. In what ways is this true?
“Certainly Sebring has been good for many of our BMWs in years past, and hopefully that holds! I think there are enough longer, fast turns that are our forte, as well as the notorious bumpy surface that the BMW platform handles well. And with some critical braking zones, I think this track flexes BMW’s all-around, good-at-everything muscle.”

Although you didn’t get the results we were looking for, both cars ran very well at the season opener at Daytona. One car led, and the other was in contention for a podium finish until the very end of the race. Does this give you a feeling of confidence heading into Sebring, and/or added determination to get results that are more reflective of your performance?
“Without a doubt, the four-hour opener was a challenge for us, and I didn’t know how we would shake out. We’ve been working on durability, and for both cars to be fully on pace and to finish without an issue, except for a water pump belt, was a success, so we’re excited for the rest of the season.”

At four hours, the race at Daytona was longer than it’s been in the past. Now Sebring begins a string of races that are two hours long rather than the typical 2.5 hours the series has staged in the past. Although it’s the same for everyone, how do you think the loss of that extra 30 minutes will affect the race strategy, if at all?
“I’m hoping these shorter races bode well for our BMWs. We are, due to the rules, the heavier cars in the field, which is brutal on tires and makes us struggle a little at the end. I’m hoping with a shorter race we can use more tire early to keep pace and still have plenty for a strong finish.”

Do you have any favorite memory of Sebring?
“My favorite memory of Sebring was post-race, back in the days that the camping area was wide open with all sorts of vehicles running around with fans cruising. This event is a party, and I love being here.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Sebring has a vast history of many great drivers from yesteryear. What’s it like racing at such a historic and renown track like Sebring? How many times have you raced at Sebring before?

“Racing at Sebring is a dream come true. When you first walk to pit road and you see all the years and manufacturers on the roof of the garages and read the stories that follow them, you know you’ve walked into a track that has made legends. I’ve raced there many times since 2010 because I grew up in Fort Lauderdale. I set a track record at Sebring with the Skip Barber series and have also scored a few wins there. It’s a track that has a lot of history for me.”

You and James finished third in this race last year. In what ways does that previous success play into the way you prepare for this event?
“We walk into this event with a little confidence, but James and I know there’s a lot of work to be done. It’s a new year with new challenges.”

The fans are definitely part of the show at Sebring. Do you have any interesting stories about this event that you can share?
“The monks [fans dressed in monk costumes] are usually a funny part of the weekend. The fans at Sebring are passionate to come to that race and meet the drivers. That’s what makes it a great race.”

There were only three full-course cautions in this race in 2015 and only one in 2016. Do you think this year’s race will be similar? Why or why not?
“I think it may be more with the GS field growing and Sebring being as tight as it is. Whether a lot of cautions or hardly any, it will be a good race.”

Will you make time to do anything else in the Sebring area when you’re there for the race? If so, what?
“I like to go visit the town a grew up in (Cooper City) and see old friends.”

Where does Sebring International Raceway stand in your list of race tracks, and why?
“It’s in the top five. Yes, it’s flat, but it’s a great challenge because of the bumps and the uneven pavement that really move the car around.”

Do you have any favorite memory of Sebring?
“My first-ever win in a car was there, and Michael Cooper, Tristan Nunez, Luis Rodriguez, and Jonathan Jorge dumped cold water on me to celebrate.”

Greg Liefooghe, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Sebring has a vast history of many great drivers from yesteryear. What’s it like racing at such a historic and renown track like Sebring? How many times have you raced at Sebring before?

“When you walk down to the pits and you look up at the banners on the walls of all the winning team names and manufacturers, you just can’t help but feel the history of the place. Between racing and coaching, I’m usually at Sebring ten or more times a year. It’s a great place for winter training.”

You won this event in 2015 in a Next Level European Porsche Cayman and also set the fastest lap of the race for the ST class. What are the primary differences between the BMW and the Porsche here, and how did that victory affect you?
“One of the feelings that comes from winning at the pro level is validation. It validates that your thoughts on lines, techniques, and driving around that particular track work. The BMWs should be great around Sebring. With the very coarse pavement and the heat, Sebring is very hard on tires, and it’s no secret that we were struggling mainly with extreme tire wear on our Caymans, so I’m really looking forward to going back to Sebring with the more stable BMW platform.”

Although you didn’t get the results you were looking for, both cars ran very well at the season opener at Daytona. One car led, and the other was in contention for a podium finish until the very end of the race. Does this give you a feeling of confidence heading into Sebring, and/or added determination to get results that are more reflective of your performance?
“Absolutely! Although Daytona is a very specific track, it felt like we had a good car in the infield and it bodes well for the rest of the season. We were running at the front of the pack and had a shot at a podium until the last lap. I feel like we can put ourselves in the same position for this race and shoot for a podium position.”

Where does Sebring International Raceway stand in your list of race tracks, and why?
“Sebring is in the top 10 on my list of favorite tracks. Although it’s a very flat track, the flow of the layout just works. It has a great rhythm.”

Do you have any favorite memory of Sebring?
“That’s an easy question! Yes, our win at Sebring was the highlight of all my trips to that place. Everything clicked together. You don’t get to have many perfect weekends during a career, but that was one of them.”

If you were a fan camping there, at what turn would you set up camp, and why?
“I usually like to set up in front of T15 because that’s the place where you can see the most. You can see T1 all the way to T5, and then T13 all the way to T16. It allows you to see the cars’ balance and attitude around the track, and follow a race very well.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

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.

BimmerWorld Kicks Off the Season Battling Up Front at Daytona

BimmerWorld-Kicks-Off-the-Season-Battling-Up-Front-at-Daytona

The BimmerWorld team battled for the win in the season-opening IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (ICTSC) event at Daytona International Speedway but ultimately came up just short in the Street Tuner (ST) class during the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge. However, the two-car Dublin, Virginia-based team has a solid foundation to build on for its BMW 328is (F30 chassis) as 2017 gets underway.

The No. 81 Powerflex entry driven by two Californians, Ari Balogh of Menlo Park and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco, came home in seventh place after fighting for a podium finish with just minutes remaining. Meanwhile the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries entry piloted by 2012 Olympic swimming gold medalist Tyler Clary of Charlotte, Tyler Cooke of Matthews, NC, and team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, VA lost a water pump belt near the beginning of the second stint. They were relegated to a 14th-place result after being forced to battle uphill for the remainder of the race on the 3.4-mile road course at the World Center of Racing.

Balogh qualified the No. 81 car in 12th position with a time of 2:08.439 and an average speed of 99.7 mph. He steered up to the top five during his stint and was running 11th when Liefooghe took over just past the 100-minute mark. Liefooghe proceeded to rapidly climb the leaderboard. Following a caution for an on-track incident involving another ST class competitor, the green flag was waved again with under five minutes remaining. Liefooghe was running second and in contention for the class win but slid wide in the heavy braking zone of turn one. He recovered to bring the car back for a solid seventh-place result.

Clary, competing in his first race at Daytona, began the race from inside the top 10 after qualifying the No. 84 machine in the 10th position. His best qualifying lap took 2:06.780 to complete with an average speed of 101.0 mph. He quickly climbed through the field and was running fifth when he pitted for tires and fuel and gave way to Cooke behind the wheel. Cooke wasted no time in taking over the lead spot. Soon, however, he encountered rising water temperatures and was forced to bring the car to the pits for quick repairs. He drove for nearly two hours before ultimately turning the controls over to Clay, who completed the race while keeping pace with the lead pack.

Greg Liefooghe finished seventh in class, while James Clay came home 14th.

Greg Liefooghe, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“The car was really good and very fast. We were turning good lap times. The guys caught us because they were in the draft. On the restart, I just made a mistake. My braking was a little too late in turn one, and then I just got a little wide and lost a bunch of positions. The car was good, though. That was definitely the best it felt all weekend and it was good on the long run, too. I feel like we’re pretty optimistic about the season. I just wish I could have finished a little higher.

“I think I was in the car for 2 hours and 20 minutes or somewhere around there. It’s not that difficult around here (the Daytona circuit), especially because of all the straightaways.”

Ari Balogh, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was a great race; we got off to a really good start. It was pretty competitive. On my braking into (turn) one, I lost some positions, but it was a good back and forth. Everyone was pretty good on track, and I just had a great time out there. There were a lot of great racers and a lot of challenges. It was just an awesome time.”

James Clay, Team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):

“It was a little frustrating for me when we lost a couple laps. We had a belt come off, which is just unbelievable because we had such a good car today. I was able to run with the leaders, and I had a great stint. Fortunately, I was able to be in a position to be able to help my teammate out just a bit. Unfortunately for all of us, we didn’t get the result we wanted out of the whole deal.”

“I am really proud of all our drivers today. From a very new Tyler Clary, Ari’s first full weekend in the BMW, and Greg and Cooke of course, everyone executed. That was really cool to see. And while today wasn’t the day, both cars were flawless with the one obvious exception in the longest race they’ve run to-date, which bodes for a good year.”

Tyler Clary, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“The race overall was a bit tough for the team. The upside, however, is that both cars showed extreme pace as a factor of our drivers; our drivers did a great job today. That’s not tooting my own horn; I’m talking about the other drivers. During my stint, in particular, I was tentative at the start; I was nervous. There were a couple people that got by and that was great driving on their part, but in many ways, I was taking a backseat a little bit because I figured if I was faster I would make up time later on in the stint. I kind of settled in and started racing a little bit and ended up handing over the car in fifth place. I’m very pleased with that. The goal given to me was to bring the car back clean and in the top ten so I’m very happy with that. Unfortunately, we had a mechanical issue in the 84, and the 81 had an issue in the last lap. But that’s racing. That being said, the team handled it great. I’m really proud of how everybody did today. Hopefully, this sort of bad luck is out early in the season.

“Certainly getting to swim at a high level for a few years helps me cope with the pressure and the competitiveness of everybody else around me. It doesn’t necessarily make the nerves go away; I was really nervous before the race. I think in general, being able to sit down after a swim and review it and look at what went wrong and what can be done better, et cetera, helped me going into this weekend because that’s what is done in racing. My speed seemed to pick up pretty consistently every day, and even today I was running times that were faster than my qualifying time. Personally, I’m happy with how I did this weekend. I would’ve liked it if we had a little bit better luck, but that’s racing as they say.

“I know that we’re working on at least another race. This year is definitely more of a development year for me. My big goal is to be able to compete for 2018. So we’ll have to see what happens, but right now we’re definitely talking about one other race.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It started off as a helluva stint for myself. Tyler did a great job driving the car all the way up to fifth place. The team gave us a great car; Roush gave us a great engine. We had the whole package together. It was great to be able to take the lead, but unfortunately, we lost the (water pump) belt. It caused the water to get super-hot and we lost about three laps. It was a good weekend to learn for the next race, which is Sebring. It’s going to keep helping us evolve, keep helping us build. I’m really looking forward to Sebring and looking forward to another race.”

Friday’s BMW Endurance Challenge will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 12.

The series’ next event is March 15-18 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., highlighted by a 2-hour race on Friday, March 17 that supports the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise and competes in the Continental Tire Series with a pair of BMW 328is (F30) where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and Championship contender.

BimmerWorld Is Excited to Get the 2017 Season Underway at Daytona; Welcomes Olympic Medalist to Its Driving Squad of BMW 328is

BimmerWorld-Is-Excited-to-Get-the-2017-Season-Underway-at-Daytona;-Welcomes-Olympic-Medalist-to-Its-Driving-Squad-of-BMW-328is

BimmerWorld Racing is excited for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (ICTSC) 2017 season opener on Friday afternoon, Jan. 27 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., where the Dublin, Va.-based team will field two turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) in the Street Tuner (ST) class for the BMW Endurance Challenge. Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va.; Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C., and Olympic gold medalist swimmer Tyler Clary of Charlotte, N.C. will share the team’s No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i. Two Californians, Ari Balogh of Menlo Park and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco, will switch from the Porsche Cayman they had previously driven in the series to the No. 84’s sister car, the No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i.

This race has been expanded to four hours instead of the usual two and one-half hours. Clary is expected to qualify and start the No. 84, while Balogh will do the same in the No. 81. The team won four poles in this series last year.

Clary, who won gold in the 200-meter backstroke in record time at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, will be making his IMSA debut after driving with the team at the Daytona test earlier this month. “Tyler is a friend of Jerry Kaufman, one of our 2016 team drivers, who introduced us at Lime Rock last year, where we briefly discussed his racing goals,” Clay explained. “In just over six months, Tyler has ramped up, proven himself behind the wheel of cars, and earned his IMSA pro license in anticipation of his Daytona debut. This is quite the amazing path, and we are excited to be part of the journey.”

There are four practice sessions on the schedule on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 9 a.m., 11:40 a.m., 2:20 p.m. and 5 p.m. before the 15-minute ST qualifying session at 5:30 p.m. that day. The race itself is slated to begin the following afternoon at 12:15 p.m. A total of 20 ST cars and 20 Grand Sport cars are on the pre-event entry list for a total field of 40. The same 3.56-mile road course used for the Rolex 24 that same weekend will be utilized.

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 a tape-delayed basis on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 11:30 a.m. All times are EST.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What improvements have been made to the cars during the off-season?

“As always, the off-season is anything but free time. After finally conquering the reliability issues of this technically challenging platform, we have been focused on smoothing out some of the rough edges that should see this BMW become even more competitive than it was during our successful 2016 season. Our work list has been long, but the BimmerWorld crew has worked steadily to give us great cars for the season.”

How did things go at the Roar? In what ways was that test beneficial?
“The Roar is always a good opportunity for a dress rehearsal to officially kick off our season and get us warmed up for the first race of the year. We had a lot to work on this year with Tyler Clary joining us for the inaugural four-hour Daytona race in the OPTIMA Batteries entry and Greg and Ari moving to the familiar BMW platform. Based on some strong performances by perennial ST teams at the test, and knowing more cars will join that chose not to attend this event, we will have our work cut out for us this year.”

This race is sponsored by BMW. Does that affect your team, and if so, how?
“We led a lot of laps in the 2016 running of the BMW Performance 200 but fell short in the second half of the race with an engine issue. Starting off the season strong is important to us, but winning the BMW-sponsored race is a bit of an extra carrot.”

Tyler and Greg finished second in ST in this race in 2014. Greg was fourth and you finished fifth in 2015. How important is experience at Daytona?
“Daytona is such a wild track; no other track we race has this level of strategy that the draft requires. Like any track, setup and speed are important, but reading the air and setting yourself up sometimes laps ahead of time require experience. We have two solid cars with proven drivers, but there is more than one returning champion in the field that we will be battling.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What have you been doing during the off-season to prepare for this year’s events?

“I’ve been training to keep myself fit, coaching drivers, and I got the opportunity to race in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill.”

What will the keys be to a podium finish at Daytona?
“Keeping the car under us. Maintaining fuel and engine usage until it matters at the end. The guys at the shop have been working hard during the off-season to help us push the car harder for a whole race.”

Are you hoping for a sunny race or a rainy race, or doesn’t it matter? Why?
“I’m either. A driver that picks one or the other is one that makes excuses. Drivers should want to race in any weather.”

You and Greg finished second in ST in this race in 2014.  Greg was fourth and James finished fifth in 2015. How important is experience at Daytona?
“Daytona looks like an easy track, and it is to a certain extent. Finding the small tenths is what makes it hard, and learning how vital the draft is. Learning how to use the draft in your favor is the biggest part.”

What does it mean to you personally to be competing on the same track that hosts the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Daytona 500?
“It’s every person’s dream. I remember the first time I went to Daytona with SCCA in a spec Miata, I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. Driving through the banks feeling your head stuck back against the seat and being on a track full of history is a dream come true.”

Greg Liefooghe, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What have you been doing during the off-season to prepare for this year’s events?

“I’m lucky enough to live in California where there is basically no off-season. Ari and I did a lot of the long endurance races like the 13 Hours of VIR and the 25 Hours of Thunderhill. It’s been a lot of fun.”

What will the keys be to a podium finish at Daytona?
“The main key to finish on the podium is to make the right decisions so that you can be in the lead pack at the end of the race. You have to find the right balance between patience and aggressiveness.”

This race is four hours long. Most CTSCC races are 2.5 hours long, including this race the last few years. What are the main ways the added length will affect things? Although it’ll be the same for everyone, is this good or more difficult for our team?
“It will be interesting to see what happens for the four hours. The strategy has been very streamlined over the years in the 2.5-hour races. Everything has to fall into place with yellows to make it on three stops, so there are high chances to make it a four-stop race. The timing of the pit stops will be crucial, and I know the guys have been practicing all winter on the pit stops, which will give us a great advantage.”

You and Tyler finished second in ST in this race in 2014.  You were fourth and James finished fifth in 2015. How important is experience at Daytona?
“I actually never finished off the podium at Daytona in a BimmerWorld car. Experience pays dividend there. It’s a different type of racing where you live or die by the draft. Although Daytona is not my favorite track to drive, it’s one of my favorites to race for that reason.”

What does it mean to you personally to be competing on the same track that hosts the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Daytona 500?
“The Daytona 24 has been on my list of goals since I started racing, and it’s awesome to be able to drive on the same track and weekend as that race. I’m working hard to be part of it some day.”

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise and competes in the Continental Tire Series with a pair of BMW 328is (F30) where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and Championship contender.

BimmerWorld Welcomes Olympic Gold Medalist To Its Driver Squad for His IMSA Debut at Daytona Next Friday

BimmerWorld-Welcomes-Olympic-Gold-Medalist--To-Its-Driver-Squad-for-His-IMSA-Debut-at-Daytona-Next-Friday

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Tyler Clary has said all along that he wanted to become a professional race car driver when his days as a world-class swimmer are over.

That dream will get a major boost on Friday. Clary is scheduled to join James Clay and Tyler Cooke as the co-drivers of the BimmerWorld Racing No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i in the BMW Endurance Challenge, the season opener for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series, on the 3.5-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

BimmerWorld, based in Dublin, Va., fields two turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) in the Street Tuner class of that series, which begins 2017 with a four-hour race that supports the Rolex 24.

Clary, who won gold in the 200-meter backstroke in record time at the 2012 Olympics, tested with the team at Daytona earlier this month. He is expected to qualify the car on Thursday afternoon and then take the green flag on Friday at 12:15 p.m. for his IMSA debut.

“Tyler is a friend of Jerry Kaufman, one of our 2016 team drivers, who introduced us at Lime Rock last year, where we briefly discussed his racing goals,” explained Clay, BimmerWorld team owner. “In just over six months Tyler has ramped up, proven himself behind the wheel of cars, and earned his IMSA pro license in anticipation of his Daytona debut. This is quite the amazing path, and we are excited to be part of the journey.”

Clary set up a GoFundMe.com fundraiser to help raise money for his appearance. On the page, he said he fell in love with racing as a youngster while doing fundraisers for his local swim team at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. He has competed in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race at the IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix, trophy trucks in the desert, Legends cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Skip Barber formula cars, to name a few.

Last September he tested a Spec E46 3 Series BMW with BimmerWorld Racing at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.

Late last year he also did two multi-hour races and ended up on the podium both times.

“The first was with DriveGear Motorsports at Summit Point [Summit Point, W.Va.]; it was an eight-hour AER event where we ended up with a second-place finish,” Clary said. “The most recent one was with Team LMR at Circuit of The Americas [Austin, Texas] in early December. We battled from a 24th starting position to a third-place finish.”

The latter was an eight-hour World Racing League event where he drove an ex-BimmerWorld car, a former ST-prepared E90 BMW.

Clary said he also learned a great deal at the “Roar before the 24″ test at Daytona earlier this month.

“It’s hard to put all of the things I learned at the Roar into a short quote!” Clary said. “It is a brand-new car to me, a brand-new track, and a different caliber of competition. I learned that Turns 3 and 5 are easy to overdrive, that Turn 6 can be questionable on exit, and that the Bus Stop has a large potential impact on your lap time if it isn’t executed correctly.”

In the weeks since then, Clary has been doing his homework.

“I’ve been watching race video and visualizing as much as possible,” he said. “Also, going over the data again from the Roar is helping me remember the nuances of the track and is reminding me of where I can still make significant improvement.

“I think the key thing for me to remember going into this week is that I have a huge wealth of experience around me in James, Tyler, Greg, and Ari,” he added. “I look forward to picking their brains more about strategy and mindset for my stint.

“To be competing at this iconic track with a series-leading team is a dream come true,” he concluded. “I am inspired by the premise of sharing the same pavement with some of the greatest drivers that the world has ever seen. It feels great to be part of a team that is so passionate about being the best. It reminds me how powerful competition can be and how potent a group of people with the same goal is.”

Recent support from Pervasive-Intel has helped make his racing debut possible, but Clary’s GoFundMe page is still active for those looking to contribute.

It might seem like he is being thrown into the deep end of the pool, but he’s been dreaming of this day since he was a child, even before he worked in a merchandising trailer at the races in a fund-raising effort for his swimming club.

With the experienced BimmerWorld team to help him, one gets the feeling it won’t be long before he’s going for gold again. This time it may be for a gold Rolex watch, though, instead of an Olympic medal.

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 a tape-delayed basis on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 11:30 a.m. All times are EST.

For more information, see TylerClaryRacing.com, BimmerWorldRacing.com, and IMSA.com.

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise and competes in the Continental Tire Series with a pair of BMW 328is (F30) where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and Championship contender.

BimmerWorld Announces 2017 Plans

bimmerworld-announces-2017-plans

BimmerWorld Racing Principal James Clay announced today plans for the 2017 racing season. BimmerWorld will focus their efforts on the team’s two BMWs with a focus to win the Street Tuner (ST) class championship in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series in 2017.

Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., and Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C., will continue to co-drive BimmerWorld’s No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i. Stepping into the team’s No. 81 BMW 328i will be two drivers from the Next Level European (NLE) program: Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif., and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco.

“We are excited about our 2017 program and we have been hard at work on it since October,” said BimmerWorld Racing Principal James Clay. “We continue to spend the time we have before season start improving our BMWs even further, testing and concentrating on making BimmerWorld Racing the best we can. IMSA’s Continental Tire Challenge ST class is very competitive and you have to enter the season and each race at your top form. We are going to focus on doing just that.”

Although BimmerWorld’s sister team, Next Level European, was a successful venture with an early victory and podium finishes, at this time Clay does not plan to field its two Porsche Caymans in the series in 2017 in order to put their full attention on the BimmerWorld program.

“We are rooted in BMW, love the brand, and I want to focus fully on our core strength.  With the Series’ changes pending, including GT4 and TCR adoption, we won’t build a third BMW to join the fight but instead concentrate on running the two F30s we have,” Clay said. “Losing Seth and Dan for the 2017 season feels like a loss in the family, but having Ari and Greg in a BMW will be great. Ari is a BMW guy at heart, and Greg joined the team in a BMW in 2011, and both are eager to be back in the Munich car.”

Although Seth Thomas, Dan Rogers, Kyle Tilley and Jerry Kaufman won’t be with the Dublin, Va.-based outfit in 2017, there are already plans in the works for 2018. “With BMW’s GT4 M4 on the horizon, we are already looking forward to a reunion tour after the 2017 season,” Clay said.

Both current BMW cars are turbocharged and using the F30 chassis. The No. 84 finished tenth in the Continental Tire series point standings in 2016. BimmerWorld won four pole positions in 2016 and ran at the front of the field at multiple events as it developed the F30 turbo-powered platform. It delivered the car’s first podium finish in the series at Sebring in March.

BimmerWorld started prepping for 2017 immediately following the 2016 season finale at Road Atlanta, where they led the most laps. They look forward to getting the 2017 season started with testing at Daytona at the Roar Before the 24 Jan. 6-8. The 2017 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season opener is the BMW Performance 240, a four-hour race on Daytona’s 3.56-mile road course on Friday, Jan. 27 that supports the Rolex 24.

The balance of the 2017 schedule for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge includes: Sebring 150 at Sebring International Raceway, March 15-18; Continental Tire Challenge at Circuit of the Americas, May 4-6; Continental 150 at Watkins Glen International, June 29-July 2; Continental Tire Challenge at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, July 7-9; Continental Tire Challenge at Lime Rock Park, July 21-22; Continental Tire Challenge at Road America, August 3-6; Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway, August 25-27; Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, September 22-24; and Continental Tire Challenge at Road Atlanta, October 4-7.

FOLLOW BIMMERWORLD AT: https://www.facebook.com/bimmerworld

STAY UP TO DATE WITH BIMMERWORLD NEWS AT: http://www.bimmerworldracing.com

ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise, and competes in the Continental Tire Series with a pair of BMW 328is (F30) where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and Championship contender.

#81 BimmerWorld 328i

livery81.2015

Engine: 245 hp, 6500 RPM, 2.0L Turbo 4, Bosch Motorsport electronics, full Motec Data Acquisition

Driveline: Getrag 6-speed transmission, custom Diffsonline differential
Suspension: 2-Way MCS dampers with BimmerWorld, BMW Motorsport, and Hyperco racing components
Wheels: 17 inch Volk Forged aluminum race wheels
Brakes: Custom Performance Friction stock-based system
Drivers: Ari Balogh, Greg Liefooghe

Ari Balogh

ari balogh bimmerworld 2017

2016: Rookie year of pro racing in IMSA and World Challenge in a variety of vehicles, including the Next Level European Porsche Cayman in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, plus an Aston Martin and BMW M235iR in the World Challenge series.

2015: Raced BMWs in SpecE30 and SpecE46 with NASA and SCCA. Took first and second in class in two WERC three hour enduros at Buttonwillow, and fourth in class at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill.

2014: Rookie season racing SpecE30 with NASA and SCCA in NorCal.

Previously: Ari was cajoled into attending a track day over the 2012 holidays, which started the quick escalation from casual track days to car control and then racing school. Prior to racing, the speed itch was satisfied by regular work trips to Germany… to drive the Autobahn.

Personal: Fascinated by cars and speed from an early age has led to many adventures for Ari, from restoring cars to driving in 47 of the 50 states and 20+ countries. Beyond cars and racing, Ari can be found with his family or developing new Internet technology.