BimmerWorld Kicks Off the Season Battling Up Front at Daytona

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.