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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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

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.”

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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 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.”

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

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.

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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

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

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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

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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.