Mixed Fortunes For BimmerWorld At Mid-Ohio GRAND-AM Event

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The BimmerWorld Racing team had designs on filling the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series podium at Mid-Ohio with its trio of BMW 328is last weekend after the team’s exhibition of speed at the last round in Atlanta.  But a rare occurrence played out in the Street Tuner class which saw the Nos. 80, 81 and 82 entries all finish outside the top 10.

Efforts by the team to use the talents of its drivers, effective race strategy from its engineers and rapid pit stops from its crew weren’t enough to overcome a frustrating day of on-track activity.

Altogether, the Mid-Ohio event will be one team owner/driver James Clay and his team of BMW experts will look to put it behind them with shifting their focus to getting ready to race at Watkins Glen on June 28.

“A race like this isn’t typical for our team and it doesn’t sit well with anyone,” said Clay. “Certainly we will look at what went wrong, but we are executing well this year and I feel it was mostly just a mix of bad luck, lack of a few redeeming opportunities, and on a track that wasn’t great for our cars. I am definitely looking forward to the next race and opportunity.”

Seth Thomas, who led the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i home to a 12th-place finish with co-driver Dan Rogers, persevered on a day where winning was out of reach.

“Mid-Ohio proved to be our biggest nemesis so far this season,” he said. “It was a track where we have always had great success but this year it was tough for us.  Our overall speed was a little off compared to our competition but we played the right strategy to put us in contention.  I made a mistake that cost us and moved us from the top 10 to outside the top 20, but fought back to 12th.  We’ll take the points and move on to our next race at Watkins Glen where I know we will be running towards the front again.”

Tyler Cooke, who shares the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i with Gregory Liefooghe, gained more experience during the race that will help him as his career continues to flourish.

“One of the things Mid-Ohio reinforces is that you can lose a lot in a race, more than just the ability to win, and it can affect your standing in the championship. Everybody is trying to win the championship, and you really have to look at earning every extra position, every extra point to help. Looking at the ‘big picture’ is really important.”

A similar note came from Greg Strelzoff, who partners with Connor Bloum in the No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW 328i.

“There are a lot of lessons to come from Mid-Ohio; I had more in-race contact at this one race than all others combined and I have to continue to be used to this and not let it alter the way I drive,” he said. “I am learning when it is appropriate to hold or give ground, and at the same time not compromising results in the process. Overall, it was not an easy race for me and I am very glad that we don’t have a long break until the next round.”

Follow the team’s progress throughout the weekend atwww.BimmerworldRacing.com, and catch the Mid-Ohio race when it airs at 4 p.m. ET June 23rd on SPEED.

BimmerWorld Ready For GRAND-AM Action At Mid-Ohio

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The checkered flag flew over the last GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series event nearly two months ago at Road Atlanta in Georgia, and with that extended hiatus about to draw to a close, BimmerWorld and the rest of the competitors in the Street Tuner class will reconvene this weekend for Round 5 of the Championship at the legendary Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

The long pause between events afforded the BMW experts plenty of time to analyze and improve its trio of BMW 328i sedans—cars that have already been relentlessly optimized by the tuning and aftermarket specialists—as part of BimmerWorld’s quest to win races and the GRAND-AM title.

“We savor breaks in the schedule like the one we are currently wrapping up,” said BimmerWorld owner/driver James Clay. “Race teams win with constant improvement and development, and a break in running from track to track gives us the opportunity to take what we learn during those events and make the car and team better.”

As tempting as it would have been to work shorter hours during the break at the team’s base in Dublin, Virginia, Clay says his crew of veteran technicians and engineers maintained an ambitious pace which should help the program to resume its racing activities at Mid-Ohio without missing a beat.

“No one on the team, drivers or crew, sits idle during a break like this,” he explained. “Certainly when we hit the races in quick repetition, every action and role almost goes in autopilot.  But we are an established group with long-term working relationships, so even after the break it feels like getting settled back into the familiar routine.”

In a similar vein, BimmerWorld’s three driving duos have also been away from the racetrack—at least in professional competition—and like their crew members, have also been staying active to make sure there’s no rust to shake off when practice begins.

“All of our drivers are already doing the work in between the races by spending time on the simulator and making sure they are in top physical shape to endure the heat in the cars and length of the races,” said Gregory Liefooghe, who shares the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i with Tyler Cooke.

“And having time on a driving simulator helps to get in a rhythm quickly,” he continued. “It also helps when we talk about all the details that make a difference, whether it’s taking the right line, braking technique, transition speeds or where to slow down in order to get a better lap time in our heavier BMWs.”

BimmerWorld continues to work on the 328i chassis to maximize its performance advantages, most notably in the areas of braking and handling. And with a number of smaller, lighter cars in the same class, certain tracks favor specific manufacturers, giving BimmerWorld’s BMWs a chance to show off in some—but not all–sections at Mid-Ohio.

“I think Mid-Ohio should race well for us this year,” said Dan Rogers, who pilots the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i along with Seth Thomas. “As always, the BimmerWorld BMW’s are rock solid cars from qualifying until the final lap of the race, but this weekend will be tough and there’s no telling how exactly it will play out.

“The quality of our cars will play a major factor, though, and the incredible race strategy and pit stops by our team will also be a huge asset. I can’t wait to get back in the car and go racing again.”

Follow the team’s progress throughout the weekend atwww.BimmerworldRacing.com.

BimmerWorld Scores Pair Of Top 10s At Mid-Ohio GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series Event

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Despite earning a win at Round 2 of the 2012 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series championship through a perfectly-timed piece of race strategy, the BMW experts at BimmerWorld have gone into every race this year with an understanding they’d face an uphill battle, and last weekend’s race at Mid-Ohio was no different.

With the Street Turner rules currently balanced in favor of smaller economy cars and their turbocharged cousins, teams like BimmerWorld have been left to fight for “best in class” honors with normal-sized sedans like the BMW 328i, making the team’s pair of top 10 finishes at Mid-Ohio even more remarkable.

Leading BimmerWorld at the checkered flag was the No. 80 BMW 328i of team owner/driver James Clay and co-driver John Capestro-Dubets, who scored an impressive fifth-place result on the twisting 2.2-mile road course.

“I think it was clear this weekend that we didn’t have the power that we needed to really challenge for a win, but the BimmerWorld team always puts together a solid car and a lot of the time, that will get us farther than we expect,” said Clay. “The No. 80 had a solid race and we were never able to challenge for a position and take it, but we were able to be there when opportunity gave us a spot, and that was the key to moving to the front for us. Not the most exciting way to make it happen, but I am happy and content that we maximized the result.”

With a string of bad luck limiting the No. 80’s results this year, earning fifth at Mid-Ohio was a great momentum boost for the team and, in particular, second-year GRAND-AM driver Capestro-Dubets, who fought hard to the finish as the closer in the blue and yellow BMW.

“The opportunity to work with the experienced drivers and engineers on the team has helped me to mature,” said ‘JCD,’ as he’s known by the team. “I have no words for the emotion I had after this race. To cross the finish line, pull into the pits and see the looks and the other competitor’s faces, then walk up to see James and feel the relief of success for the No. 80 after a rough start to the season was just incredible. I’m very grateful for this experience and beyond fueled for the next round.”

Round 2 winners Gregory Liefooghe and teammate David Levine steered the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW home in eighth, their third top 10 of the season. Liefooghe was quick to hail the performance and progression of his teammate so far in 2012.

“For David and me, it has just been a matter of learning how to communicate with each other,” said the respected racer and driver coach. “My job is to make sure he gets what he needs to find those last few tenths on the track. We have jelled very well and now we only work on small details. One of the big changes from last season for David was that he now has a team and a teammate behind him, and we are all here to make him faster and he adapted quickly to that environment. He manages to bring the car back in good shape and in a good position after his stint and it allows me to go for a good finish.”

BimmerWorld would have preferred to have all three of its cars in the top 10, but circumstances intervened throughout the weekend for the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i piloted by Seth Thomas and Dan Rogers. For reasons that defy explanation, a year’s worth of bad luck struck the No. 82 at Mid-Ohio, forcing the car’s resilient technicians to perform miracle after miracle to overcome a variety of unexpected mechanical woes.

Coming off a second-place finish at the previous round, soldiering home to take 26th at Mid-Ohio might not seem like something to celebrate, but Thomas gave full credit to everyone who took part in getting the No. 82 to the finish line.

“The BimmerWorld Crew fought all weekend to get the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW on track,” he said. “It seems every time one problem was solved, another reared its head, including during the race. Most teams would have packed up and gone home during practice, but not our guys. I am proud of every crew member as they fought harder than Dan or I did on the racetrack.

“They stayed up late and worked right up until the last minute to give us a race car we felt would lead us to the front of the field. Unfortunately some race contact from another car prevented them from seeing success in the No. 82 BMW. Regardless, this race was only possible because of them.”

Follow BimmerWorld’s progress atwww.BimmerWorldRacing.com, and watch the Mid-Ohio race when it’s airs June 17th at 12 p.m. ET on SPEED.

BimmerWorld Hoping To Repeat History At Mid-Ohio

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Teams inevitably circle a few highly anticipated dates on the racing calendar each year, and with this weekend’s GRAND-AM event at the 2.2-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio road course serving as one of BimmerWorld’s favorites, the Dublin, Virginia-based BMW experts hope to repeat their past successes.

As the first North American team to win a professional road race with the BMW E90 platform at Mid-Ohioback in 2007, the team followed with another win at the track in 2010 with Seth Thomas and Bill Heumann at the helm of one of BimmerWorld’s E90s. Now the team is hungry to add a third win this weekend.

Expanded to three Street Tuner-class cars in the Continental Tire Series for 2012, team owner/driver James Clay expects his fleet of constantly evolving E90s to make the most of the technical Mid-Ohio layout once practice gets under way.

“We have put a lot of work in during the winter in the whole E90 platform, and even after five years of running it, we were able to make improvements,” he said. “I think we are tapped out on power right now and not the best in the field, and acceleration out of turns is not as good as the lighter models and turbo cars, but hopefully the continuous twisting of the Mid-Ohio layout will allow our cars to shine. I have said all season that we are good on a long run – if we can get that this weekend, I will be happy.”

Partnered with John Capestro-Dubets in the No. 80 BimmerWorld entry, Clay and his co-driver have been fast all year, but have yet to bank the finishes they’ve deserved. A solid run at Mid-Ohio could be just the change of fortune they’ve been seeking.

“We haven’t gotten the results we have wanted so far this year in the No. 80 and luck hasn’t been much on our side at several key points,” Clay explained. “Certainly we are looking for podiums and wins and we always work as a team effort with our other BimmerWorld cars that have fared better to date than we have. We have a long three-race stretch ahead of us and we are going to put our heads down and do the best we can. The team is very well prepared for the potential brutality of back-to-back weekends, so I feel good about the support behind us all to maximize our results.”

Leading the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW entry, race-winners Gregory Liefooghe and teammate David Levine have high expectations for Mid-Ohio, and for Liefooghe, who serves as a driving instructor during the week, the track is one of the highlights of the year to try and tame.

“Mid-Ohio is definitely one of my favorite tracks to drive and race,” he said. “It’s technical and has some good passing zones that make for great racing. If the temperatures are mild, Mid-Ohio is typically not too hard on tires, but if it gets hot, the track tends to build up a lot of marbles and becomes a one-line track. Maximizing the pace around there is all about getting in a good rhythm and not overdriving certain of the corners. Our setup and handling work will pay a premium and I expect us to be fighting for the top step at the end of the race.”

Dan Rogers, who shares the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i with Seth Thomas, has been flourishing in his first season with BimmerWorld, and expects the upward trend to continue at Mid-Ohio.

“Seth and I have been working a lot away from the track to get me up to speed on the tracks I haven’t run yet, as well as bringing my general driving technique up to speed to be able to complete with the front end of the starting drivers in the ST field,” he said. “As we go deeper into the season, we are hoping to see the results of this work at every venue we go to.

“The No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® car has been good all season. We don’t necessarily expect to be the fastest car on the track, but should show the typical well balanced car that will last throughout the stint, and remain strong while the other cars fade.”

Follow BimmerWorld’s progress as it prepares for Round 5 in Mid-Ohio by visiting www.BimmerWorldRacing.com, and watch the race when it’s airs on June 17th at 12 p.m. ET on SPEED.

BimmerWorld Caps 2011 Season With Strong Run At Mid-Ohio

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After 10 grueling rounds of GRAND-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition, Dublin, Virginia’s BimmerWorld capped the 2011 season with strong runs in both the Street Tuner and Grand Sport divisions at the Mid-Ohio finale.

With contact in the race limiting the final results for BimmerWorld’s two-car GS program, the team might not have had the finishing positions they deserved, but after a year filled with furious development and improvements for its new BMW M3 V8 race cars, and continual updates to its year-old BMW 328is, team owner/driver James Clay walked away from Mid-Ohio feeling proud of BimmerWorld’s performance.

“I was happy with Mid-Ohio as a team owner. We put in some work testing before the event and we made progress with the ST cars. That is one of the tracks that likely doesn’t suit the heaviest car in the field and we had a very respectable showing. The GS cars again were able to race at the front although we still need to avoid the contact that has plagued the final results this year. I think our goal is to get it out of the way so we can have a clean 2012!”

Recording highly competitive lap times in the race, the Bizrate.com-sponsored No. 78 BimmerWorld BMW M3 V8 of Bob Michaelian and Seth Thomas put on a show until contact with a competitor dropped the car from contention.

The same was true for the Johnstone Supply/CRC Industries-sponsored No. 79 BimmerWorld BMW M3 V8 of James Clay and Gregory Liefooghe. With 70 cars racing for 2.5 hours on the tight, twisting 2.2-mile road course, contact became a reality for many teams, and despite making every effort to avoid the mistakes of others, BimmerWorld’s GS entries were not immune to its effects.

In ST, Bill Heumann and David White saved the best for last, delivering a season-best sixth-place finish. Heumann, the 2010 MESCO Rookie of the Year and a winner of two races, and White, a two-time pole winner in 2010, extracted the most from their ballast-laden BMW 328i.

BimmerWorld also introduced Jayson Cunie and David Levine to the ST series at Mid-Ohio in the No. 81 BMW 328i. A blend of deft driving and fast pit stops helped the pair to finish 13th on their maiden outing, and as Cunie shares, stepping into an established and professional program helped ease their transition to GRAND-AM.

“Driving the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW was a fantastic experience. Having never been in an ST car before, I was unsure what to expect. With a car this good and a team this professional, it was very easy to get comfortable quickly, and honestly, being a part of a team of this caliber gave me the confidence to concentrate on just trying to get up to speed. The team made everything very easy to understand. The team meetings and driver debriefings gave me all the information and answers that were necessary, and the way the weekend was organized never left me wondering what the next step was or what was expected of me. It was a fantastic weekend.”

Taking on the daunting challenge of doubling the size of its team, the amount of cars it campaigned and entering the top class in the Continental Series, BimmerWorld went into 2011 with high, but realistic expectations. Using the championship-winning BMW brand as its foundation, BimmerWorld entered the series in 2010 with two cars in ST, but thanks to the car’s inherent capabilities–and the extra speed added by aftermarket specialists like BimmerWorld–the 328is faced an uphill climb in 2011 as the series added ‘success ballast’ to slow the BMWs.

With the ballast having its intended effect, the 2011 season became the playground for much smaller and lighter cars, but throughout the season, BimmerWorld’s drivers and engineers continued to make improvements to the chassis. After watching the performance advantage being tipped too far in favor of the smaller ST cars, all of BimmerWorld’s relentless work on its ST cars is staged to again provide results heading into 2012.

In GS, BimmerWorld recorded one of the most outstanding debut seasons in recent history. Loaded with veteran teams using cars that have years of setup information to draw from, BimmerWorld entered the class at Daytona with its self-built cars and zero data to draw from and finished sixth with the No. 78 M3 V8.

By mid-season, its thundering M3 V8s were running deep inside the top 5 and giving the establishment absolute fits. For a season that was supposed to be dedicated to simply learning about the class and car, BimmerWorld wasted little time in putting what it learned to good use. As the end of 2011 approached, BimmerWorld proved its GS cars could run with the best and, in another ‘first’ for the team, it successfully introduced multiple new drivers to the series and the GS class.

With an off-season that will be filled with even more R&D and improvements, in addition to plenty of track testing, Clay says his team of perfectionists won’t get much rest between now and the 2012 season opener at Daytona in January.

“2011 reminded us how demanding a development program is, but also reinforced my belief in the strength of our team and people,” Clay explained. “We have some months to regroup, to dig in to the long worklists that have been created to take the cars to the front, and to perfect all of our processes and operations as a team. Racing is never easy, especially at this level, but our team is full of people who won’t settle for anything less than outright success, and I look forward to 2012 when we will get another shot at delivering our best.”

Watch the Mid-Ohio race on Sunday, September 25th at 1 p.m. ET on SPEED, and be sure to follow BimmerWorld’s off-season efforts as they prepare for 2012 at www.BimmerworldRacing.com.

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Courtesy: BimmerWorld Media Services
mediaservices@bimmerworld.com

More information about the team, cars, and drivers can be found at www.bimmerworldracing.com
Information on BimmerWorld’s Customer Car Services can be found at www.bimmerworld.com
Details on PowerFlex Suspension Bushings can be found at www.powerflexusa.com

BimmerWorld Looking To Close 2011 Season on a High At Mid-Ohio

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With nine races down and one to go in the 2011 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season, the BMW experts at BimmerWorld are ready to close one chapter and open a new one.

The 2011 season hasn’t been easy–especially after moving from a two-car team in 2010 to a four-car effort this season, but with a year of knowledge and information added to the books, the team has its sights set on this weekend’s finale at Mid-Ohio and its prospects for next season.

“We took our successful BMW 328i Street Tuner program and added two new Grand Sport BMW M3 V8s to the roster, almost doubled our staff and have adapted the rest of our organization to become a bigger, stronger and more cohesive program,” said BimmerWorld owner/driver James Clay.

“There’s no question that we’ve had our ups and downs this year, but at the end of the day, we’ve learned an incredible amount, our GS M3 V8s have become regular contenders inside the top 5 and we’ve earned podiums with our ST 328is. What’s critical to me is that our team has become a greater threat at every round. As we head into the off-season and quickly to 2012, we are still rapidly gaining momentum and that is important to me.”

With almost two months between the last round at New Jersey and the season-ending race at Mid-Ohio, BimmerWorld continued its familiar practice of tearing the four-car BMW fleet down to pieces to optimize every possible area.
After the ST and GS cars received their latest batch of improvements, the team went testing to extract more performance from its BMWs. As Clay shares, BimmerWorld’s testing efforts had short- and long-term implications.

“It is always our goal to win every race we enter; that’s why we are in this business. Making the best racing cars feeds back to our core BMW aftermarket business. With what we’ve found in our most recent test, our cars should be faster at Mid-Ohio and most importantly for next season. We’re at the stage now where Mid-Ohio isn’t so much about ending the season, but more about getting a head start on 2012.”

As GRAND-AM fans and Continental Series competitors have found since BimmerWorld joined the series in 2010, the Dublin, Virginia-based team excels at forming fast and capable partnerships behind the wheel. From team veterans to those who’ve driven for BimmerWorld for the first time, Clay takes pride in being able to offer competitive cars and a positive environment to his clients.

“We’ve had new drivers in our ST and GS cars this year, and we’ve also had some of our established drivers back which has made for some great driving combinations. Being able to pair proven veterans with rookie drivers or those who want to step into a more competitive situation is one of the unique aspects of our program, and that will continue next year. It’s too early to say how our exact lineup will look when the season kicks off at Daytona in January, but we’ll have the same winning drivers, coaches and engineers in place for those who come onboard.”

Clay’s work on filling the remaining seats available for 2012 will have to wait until this weekend’s race comes to a conclusion, as the entire organization is focused on mastering the tricky Mid-Ohio road course.

With BimmerWorld’s record of scoring multiple professional wins at Mid-Ohio, Clay says he can’t wait to get going on the 2.2-mile, 13-turn circuit located in Lexington, Ohio.

“Mid-Ohio is like many of the BMW-friendly tracks that we race on. It demands the most from a car’s handling, braking and acceleration, which is tailor-made for our 328is and M3 V8s. We’re pulling out all the stops for Mid-Ohio, but we’re also viewing the race as the first part of our preparation for next year.”

Like the tweaks made to its cars for Mid-Ohio, BimmerWorld has also made some adjustments to its driver lineup this weekend.

The No. 78 Bizrate.com BMW M3 V8 will be driven by Bob Michaelian and Seth Thomas, who moves over from the No. 79 CRC Industries M3 V8. James Clay will share the No. 79 with Gregory Liefooghe, who has already stepped out of the No. 81 328i twice this year to drive for BimmerWorld in the GS category.

In ST, Bill Heumann and David White will close out the year in the No. 80 328i, while newcomers Jayson Clunie and David Levine will take the controls of the No. 81.

“It should be a great way to close the chapter on the 2011 season,” Clay explained. “This isn’t a series where you can rest, and with some of the changes to the driver lineups, it’s reasonable to have high expectations. Everyone works together to get the most speed out of the cars and each other, and now it’s time to push each other for the best results possible at Mid-Ohio.”

Follow the team progress this weekend at www.BimmerRacingWorld.com, and tune-in to watch the race on SPEED at Noon ET, on September 25th.

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Courtesy: BimmerWorld Media Services
mediaservices@bimmerworld.com

More information about the team, cars, and drivers can be found at www.bimmerworldracing.com
Information on BimmerWorld’s Customer Car Services can be found at www.bimmerworld.com
Details on PowerFlex Suspension Bushings can be found at www.powerflexusa.com