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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 Has Momentum Heading Into Road America

BimmerWorld Racing Has Momentum Heading Into Road America

BimmerWorld Racing finished in the top five two races ago, and the Dublin, Va.-based team finished on the podium in the most recent IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race. Can it duplicate those efforts or perhaps even win Saturday’s two-hour Road America 120 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.?

Team owner James Clay loves the track and says “It seems possibly in the cards.

“We’ve had a better season than the statistics show, I think,” said Clay, the Blacksburg, Va.-based driver who shares the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW with Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. “We lost an accessory belt at Daytona, had to conserve fuel at Sebring, and we had a wheel issue at Watkins Glen. I think we’re typically top-five capable, and with the recent balance of performance change to level the playing field a bit, we’re now better than before. A win here would be big, and this has certainly been a great track for us in the past.”

BimmerWorld Racing fields two turbocharged BMW 328is (F30 chassis) in the Street Tuner class. Two Californians — Ari Balogh of Menlo Park and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco — drive the No. 81 Powerflex BMW. They duplicated their previous best result of sixth this season at the last race at Lime Rock Park, and they’re sure to be contenders, too. They have been fast and ran at the front of the field in the late stages of races several times this season.

There are two practice sessions at 10 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. on Friday. Race day begins with a third practice session at 10:15 a.m. before Street Tuner qualifying at 10:45 a.m. and Grand Sport qualifying 15 minutes later. The open-grid fan walk is at 3:35 p.m., and the green flag drops on the race at 4:30 p.m. Those times are Central.

Live video streaming and live timing and scoring will be available on imsa.com and imsa.tv. The television broadcast will be on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Aug. 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
This is traditionally a good track for you. Why?
“I just love Road America. It’s a fast track, and I generally have a high level of comfort in areas that require hanging it out a little bit, which this track rewards.”

What changes to your mindset do you need to make in going from the shortest track on the schedule to the longest track on the schedule?
“The biggest challenges of this long track are getting laps in and opportunities to make changes. You have to identify your issues quickly to make progress on car setup because it will be about 2.5 minutes until the next opportunity to make a change, and you can easily burn time in a session and not make a lot of progress. I think we really nailed our setup at Lime Rock, and I think the short laps helped, as we were able to work through multiple items. We will have to be on our game this weekend to accomplish at the same level.”

Will you make any changes to the car for this race, and if so, in what areas?
“Our cars change in setup every race, and certainly we have some trends we have been working on. If I could crank up the boost for this one, that would be my ideal change, but that isn’t under our control. Instead, I’m sure we’ll work to maximize fast-corner rolling speed and deep or heavy braking performance.”

What do you think is the most advantageous turn to make a pass?
“With our PFC brake package, the hard braking zones of Road America are good to us. There are a few, and I don’t like to give away my favorites, but one of my favorite racing moments was a pass on the outside into Turn 5 for the win back in the Touring Car days. I love that turn!”

Why is the Kink at Road America so special?
“The Kink is an amazing turn and my favorite type. You have to decide if you can go flat, with a lift only, or with a touch of the brakes; through the duration of a stint, and with a range of weather and tire degradation, all of those answers are possible. A fast, high-risk but high-reward turn like the Kink where you just might want to stay flat calls you into either greatness or a massively painful error.”

What’s your favorite food served at Road America?
“This is an impossible question to answer! Road America has the best track food of any venue we visit! The mint soft-serve ice cream, RGB potatoes, and of course a double-brat are strong contenders, but this is also a favorite of our transport driver Dave Taylor, and I am going to say that he will outdo them all with Wisconsin inspired and supplied pierogies and cabbage rolls.”

It was just announced that the series will not appear at CoTA in 2018, but it will run at Mid-Ohio for the first time since 2013. How excited will you be to return to Mid-Ohio?
“I’ll miss CoTA because I do love Austin and Texas in general. Mid-Ohio is a good track and a nice area and a venue we visited for years. I’ll enjoy going back there, and it certainly helps that it’s only about five hours from the shop.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
This is traditionally a good track for you. Why?
“Road America typically is a good track that suits the BMW. We’ve always had good pace there, and Greg and I won there in 2013. I think we have a shot for a good finish this year.”

What changes to your mindset do you need to make in going from the shortest track on the schedule to the longest track on the schedule?
“Not too much. You have to treat it like any other track and buckle down. Each track has its challenges.”

Two races ago (Mosport) you got your first top-five of the season. At the last race (Lime Rock) you got your first podium of the season. Can you get your first victory of the season at Road America? What will it take, and how important is momentum?
“We hope, but there aren’t any guarantees in racing. Both those finishes helped the team’s attitude, as well as James and I, leading into this one. It’s going to take consistency and keeping the car under us.”

What do you think is the most advantageous turn to make a pass?
“Turn 5 and Canada Corner. If you can work up the courage to carry a lot of speed into those and out-brake your competitor, it will be good for you.”

Why is the Kink at Road America so special?
“It’s a corner that teaches lessons, and you have to respect it. One mistake can put you hard into a wall and rattle your cage quite a bit.”

There is a bike ride to fight cancer on Friday, and Road America also has a disc golf course and a zip line. Have you done any of these things there?
“I did the zip line with my girlfriend, and that was crazy. It was amazing to see the track from that perspective.”

What’s your favorite food served at Road America?
“Since it’s the land of cheese, I’m going to go with a cheeseburger!”

What is the most unusual thing you’ve autographed?
“One of the craziest things I autographed is a head, but you love it because that’s a true fan. At the Nürburgring earlier this year, a guy had one to two photos of every pro car I’ve driven since 2012.”

It was just announced that the series will not appear at COTA in 2018, but it will run at Mid-Ohio for the first time since 2013. How excited will you be to return to Mid-Ohio?
“I’m excited about it. Mid-Ohio is a challenging track to race on, but it’s a great track to make laps. It usually brings out a lot of fans, and there is always a lot of action. It will be nice going back there.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
This is traditionally a good track for you. Why?
“Road America suits BMWs well in general, as our brakes are good and can last the whole race without worrying about wear. The torque from our motors going up the hills is also favorable.”

What changes to your mindset do you need to make in going from the shortest track on the schedule to the longest track on the schedule?
“It’s definitely a different kind of track. Road America is much less of a rhythm track than Lime Rock. Hitting your marks is very important here. There are quite a few passing zones as well, which makes the racing really good.”

You and Ari duplicated your best finish of the season so far when you placed sixth at the most recent race. What will it take to get a top-five, and what will it take to get a podium?
“Even though on paper it shows that our best finishes were sixth this season, we were really quick on a couple of occasions and knocking on the podium’s door near the end of the race. I think we just need to put a whole race together.”

How many times will you shift per lap at Road America?
“There are about 20 shifts per lap. We use a stock gearbox with OEM gear ratio, so there is a fairly wide spread between gears. It’s much busier with real race sequential gearboxes.”

What do you think is the most advantageous turn to make a pass?
“I think Canada Corner is the best place to pass. There’s a long straight before that corner which means the draft works well.”

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

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

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

Challenges Abound for BimmerWorld Racing at Road America

Challenges-Abound-for-BimmerWorld-Racing-at-Road-America

The BimmerWorld Racing team arrived ready to take on the field in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (ICTSC) at the 4.08-mile Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, but they didn’t have the result they wanted or expected in the heartland of America this weekend.

In Friday morning’s first ICTSC practice session, Kauffman experienced an off-track excursion causing much damage to the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i. Although the team worked hard to make repairs, they eventually determined that it could not be safely repaired at the track for further competition, so it was relegated to the transporter to return to the Dublin, Va. shop for major repairs after the race.

Tyler Cooke qualified the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries entry on the front row to start from the second grid position in the Sport Touring (ST) class. After a good start, Cooke was leading when the first of four caution flags were thrown. He led for several laps after the race returned to green-flag conditions until a battle with two Hondas made him forfeit his lead. He continued to race in second place in class before pitting on Lap 16 under the second caution for teammate James Clay to take the wheel.

Clay returned to the track in 11th position until the track went green on Lap 23. He had a great restart and jumped up to sixth position at nearly the halfway point of the race. With less than an hour remaining and a fourth full-course caution, James was leading in the No. 84 BMW 328i before a pit shuffle pushed him up into the top five.

Hard racing and a waning car saw the new F30 chassis with the 2-liter, N20 turbocharged engine fade back into the field as its pace diminished against the challenging 34-car ICTSC field. In the end, the No. 84 car finished 15th in the ST class and 22nd overall in the two hour and 30-minute race.

James Clay, Team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was unfortunate that the No. 81 car had an accident in practice. It’s dangerous sometimes, and that happens. I sure wish those guys would have been able to race with us, but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

As far as my race, it’s kind of the same story we’ve seen all year. We know the car is fast. We know we can put it at the front in qualifying. We know with the fuel load we have, the weight of the car, and the turbo motor, we get heat soak, and we run out of car. It happened today. I predicted it before the race and sure enough, that’s what happened. We can’t run a pace we have to run and keep the car under us. When you don’t have a car under you to drive, you have no choice but to go backwards.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It’s tough. We always have a fast car in the beginning, but somehow it’s not there at the end. It’s no fault of the team – no fault of anybody. It’s just frustrating because we know we have the speed.”

The television broadcast will be aired on FOX Sports 1 on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, Aug. 14 at 11 AM EDT.

The next race, Round 8 of the Continental Tire Challenge, will be held at Virginia International Raceway as part of the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR on Saturday, August 27.

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 Drivers Share Common Goal for Road America But Disagree on What’s Best on a Bratwurst

BimmerWorld-Road-America--Bratwurst

BimmerWorld Racing’s drivers love Road America and the Elkhart Lake, Wis. area in general, so they’ve been looking forward to Saturday’s 2.5-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (ICTSC) race there all year.

James Clay and Tyler Cooke will share the team’s No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i while its No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i will be driven by Jerry Kaufman and Kyle Tilley. Both cars utilize the new F30 chassis and 2-liter, N20 turbocharged engines.

After winning here in the Street Tuner (ST) class in 2013, BimmerWorld Racing finished fourth at Road America in both 2014 and 2015. A podium finish is definitely the goal in Saturday’s race, which starts at 11:35 a.m. Central time (12:35 PM Eastern), and can be viewed live on imsa.com and imsa.tv.

The 4.048-mile road course is a high-momentum track, and the team will work hard during practice to develop a setup that allows the drivers to push hard on the long straightaways while still having sufficient rolling speed approaching the braking zones in the circuit’s 14 turns.

Although that’s a common goal, the team’s drivers definitely have different requests when it comes to what they’d like on their bratwurst, which is a local specialty. Their thoughts on these and other topics follow.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Tell us about your history at Road America and what’s your favorite part of the track.
“I love Road America – it is so fast and sweeping, and you have to roll speed through the fast and sometimes questionable corners and keep your foot in it. This track tops the list of my favorites in America – every turn or sequence is demanding, and the entire lap is fun and exciting to drive.”

How do you think the BimmerWorld F30s will stack up against the competition at the longest racetrack on the schedule?
“We are really starting to wrap our heads around this N20 turbo engine and see some solid reliability from it, which will be the key to a good finish. I have flipped a couple of times at Road America in previous races, and I had my first pro win there back in 2009 in an E90 Touring Car. I am predicting this weekend will go more like the latter.”

The race at Lime Rock went nonstop with no cautions. Last year at Road America there were only two full-course cautions, and the year before there were four. There were six overall lead changes in 2015 and 16 overall lead changes in 2014. Can you make any predictions on how the pace of the race will be this year? How does this figure into your race strategies?
“I have no idea how this race will play out. We have been having way fewer cautions recently in our races, but there are a few key passing areas that have really deep gravel in the runoff, and the ‘Kink’ always adds excitement. I would be shocked if it was another full green race, but I think we are ready either way.”

Do you have any favorite places to visit in the area? (Restaurants, the lake, Siebkens, golfing, etc.)
“I love the Road America area and friends we have here who have shown us some of the great places to eat. Mint ice cream, RGP potatoes and double-brats at the track (alongside the Polish favorites our track chef has dug up to serve), Schwartz’s for a big steak, and Siebkens if we stay to celebrate.”

What do you like on your bratwurst?
“I’m a double-brat with kraut, jalapeños, and mustard!”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What has your racing history been like at Road America?
“My first time at Road America was in 2011 racing in the June Sprints in a Spec Miata and Mx5 cup car. In 2013, Road America was the site of my first win in the Continental Series with Greg Liefooghe in the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW, so I have good memories.”

Where does Road America stack up for you personally on your list of tracks? What do you like about it? What is most challenging?
“Road America has always been number one on my list. The challenge I find is in the alternating fast and slow corners, making every lap better than the last. Road America is a good old-fashioned track, allowing for the smallest mistakes to end with big consequences. I love the consistency of the racing at Road America. It makes for an exciting, on-edge time for each of us! I remember the first time I drove through the ‘Kink’ into ‘Canada Corner.’ It was breathtaking. My Dad would always walk down the bleachers in ‘Canada Corner’ and would tell me how amazing the sound was, hearing the echoes of the race cars bounce off the trees from the ‘Kink’ down to that corner.

If you were making a suggestion for where someone should watch the race from, which turn or other place would you suggest? 
“I would suggest watching the race from Turn 5. It gives you a view of the front straight and the brake zones for both Turn 5 and Turn 6.”

How important is momentum at Road America?
“Road America is a high momentum track. Saying that, finding the right balance between pushing to the maximum in the straightaways while having the perfect rolling speed to set up for passing into the braking zone is what you need to be successful in this race.”

Will you be participating in the Tour de Road America bike race on Friday?”
“Unfortunately, I will not. I want to get all the rest I can that night for the race.”

What do you like on your bratwurst? 
“Onions, ketchup, and mustard in a bun and you will have my heart.”

Kyle Tilley, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Share your history at Road America and your thoughts on the track?
“Road America is one of my favorite tracks here in the U.S. I love it! It has a mix of everything from long straights to tight corners. I have only driven it in vintage cars, so I am excited to get behind the wheel of our No. 81 Bimmerworld BMW and see what it can do!”

After the recent caution-free Lime Rock race and Road America history what are your predictions on this year’s race?
“The last 45 minutes at Lime Rock we were hoping and praying for a yellow, but it never came. Hopefully we won’t be in a situation where we need a yellow at Road America. I think it will be a fast-paced race with the draft being critical, especially if it stays green. Should we have a green race, I think we will see a lot of cars running out of gas.”

Since there are so many different turns at Road America, what will you concentrate on when developing your setup? Where do you want to be at your very best?
“I think we need to be at our best through the Turns 3 and 14 as they both lead on to the longest straights. Aside from this, straight-line performance will be key. I foresee the Audi and Hondas being tough to beat here.”

Do you have any favorite places to visit in the area? (Restaurants, the lake, Siebkens, golfing, etc.)
“I can’t remember what it’s called; however, there is a little ice cream shop that I found last time on the high street in Elkhart Lake when I was last there. Celebrating or commiserating, it’s a must visit if you like ice cream!

What do you like on your bratwurst?
“We just call them sausages in England, and I’ll take ketchup on it, please.”

Jerry Kaufman, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Tell us about your history at Road America and what you think of the track?
“Road America has always been one of my bucket-list tracks. It has three long straightaways, fast corners, slow corners, big brake zones, and elevation changes. It really has it all. This is my first trip to the track, but I grew up playing racing games, and this was always one of my favorites.”

Thunderstorms are always a possibility in the summer. Do you like racing in the rain, or would you prefer it be dry?
“I love the rain. It’s a great equalizer that rewards bravery, traction sensing skills, smoothness, and track knowledge. Road America is very fast, so I expect that the stability of the BMW will help us push the car harder than our competitors and roll more speed in the fast parts of the track.”

Road America is a lot about momentum. How would you describe momentum to someone new to the sport?
“When you are driving at high speed, the car has less torque than it does at low speed. That’s why a car pulls harder out of a slow hairpin corner than a fast sweeper. Because you have less torque it’s critical that you carry as much speed as possible through the corners. Road America really doesn’t have many slow corners, so rolling speed is extremely important.”

Will you be participating in the Tour de Road America bike race on Friday?
“I think that’s a very cool event, but honestly, it is not for me. I use the night before a race to study data and go over video then get a good night’s sleep.”

What do you like on your bratwurst?
“Spicy brown mustard and onions are only things I’m willing to put on a bratwurst. If it’s a really good brat, I will just eat it plain then help myself to another one.”

The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series’ action begins with two 45-minute practice sessions at 9 AM and 11:40 AM Friday. Street Tuner qualifying follows at 4:20 PM that afternoon. The fan walk is from 11:40 AM to 12:25 PM on Saturday, and the 2-hour-and-30-minute race starts at 12:35 PM 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 a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, Aug. 14 at 11 AM Eastern.

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.

Top-5 for BimmerWorld’s BMW Turbo at Road America

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With a chance to show the full measure of BimmerWorld’s in-house-developed turbocharged BMW 328i platform on the renowned Road America circuit, the Virginia-based aftermarket and tuning specialists captured a compelling fourth-place finish with the No. 81 entry driven by Andrie Hartanto and Tyler Cooke.

Cooke, a young veteran, and Hartanto, a rookie in IMSA’s Continental Tire Series, have formed one of the most competitive duos in the Street Tuner class, and with their near-podium at Road America, they captured their best result of 2015.

By finishing fourth on the 4.0-mile Wisconsin road course, Cooke and Hartanto also earned their fourth top-10 result in the last five races. With Hartanto qualifying and driving the opening stint and Cooke taking the closing stint, team owner/driver James Clay says he’s genuinely impressed by the performances coming from the pair in the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW.

“Tyler is finishing the 81 car stronger every race, and it is awesome to see Andrie qualifying and running at the front of the field,” Clay noted. “This is their first year together as teammates and in our new F30 BMW platform, but Tyler is on his third year with the team and I have known Andrie in the paddock for years, so their success is not a surprise to me. This is a solid season for them and I am proud to see it coming together.”

Despite his relative lack of age, Cooke has become a fast and reliable team leader with the No. 81 program, and with his promotion to the role of closing driver this year, he says the responsibility of pushing the turbo BMW to the finish line has become a pleasure.

“My comfort level is great; it was nice being able to battle it out with the front guys and really have to fight every lap,” he said. “The team gave us a great car for the race and it showed with Andrie and I both climbing through the field. Andrie had a great stint bringing the car in the pits in the top-5.”

Hartanto’s spirited drive to start the race had a minor complication, but as he recounts, it just meant he got to pass more cars.

“After moving from 14th to sixth in less than three laps, I spun and we lost all the positions we gained and then some,” he said. “Finding myself in last place forced me to dig deep and put in one my best drives to fight back to fourth. That said, I’m my own biggest critic, so the spin was a disappointment. If it weren’t for the ambitious move, I truly believe Tyler would have been fighting for the win and for that, I apologize. I am getting much more comfortable with the team, the car and the field of competitors and I expect our performance to reflect that.”

Clay and teammate Jason Briedis weren’t as fortunate as Cooke and Hartanto last weekend, but in typical BimmerWorld fashion, their No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i contributed to the ongoing growth of the company’s knowledge base and product offerings for the F30 platform.

“We are still learning without question and we are still making strides forward, but I also know we will continue to do so for the rest of the season, and the car is in a very strong spot as we move into 2016 as well,” Clay explained. “We are now fighting at the front, topping session charts, and pulling down good finishes. I am looking for a win this year, which I know is a tall order in the coming three races with such tight competition, but it is also satisfying to realize that winning is now a realistic expectation for the new turbocharged BMW.”

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’s BMWs Score Three Top-10 Finishes at Road America

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All totaled, BimmerWorld’s four-car fleet improved 34 positions last weekend during the 2.5-hour race Continental Tire Series race at Wisconsin’s Road America circuit. The 4.0-mile track rewarded the years of handling and braking optimization BimmerWorld has brought to its E90-based BMW 328is, and F30-based 328i, the brand-new turbocharged BMW BimmerWorld is developing this season, delivered once again in the Street Tuner class.

Placing three of its cars inside the top-7 demonstrated BimmerWorld’s expertise while competing against smaller cars in the ST category that used their modest stature to carve through the air on Road America’s long straights. Finishes of fourth, sixth and seventh also represented stellar execution by the team’s drivers, pit crew, and race strategists, and left team owner/driver James Clay mostly satisfied with the outcome.

“Road America is historically a good track for our BMW cars, and I think we had solid team results this weekend,” he said. “Three cars in the top-7 is an accomplishment – almost as much so as avoiding the big Lap 1 incident with all team cars. After some tough races with our E90 platform this year, it was nice to achieve some more positive results this weekend.”

BimmerWorld’s top performance went to the fourth-place No. 81 BMW 328i driven by Greg Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke. The duo is locked in a close battle for the 2014 Street Tuner Championship, and currently holds third in the standings. With three races left to run, Clay says the team will continue to push the No. 81 as far as it can go as the season draws to a close.

“Road America was a good points race for the No. 81 which is focusing purely on the Championship at this point,” he added. “As we wind the season down, we lost the points lead so we have to be a little more aggressive to gain it back in the time left. We are lucky to have three other team cars committed to this result and it proved helpful for the No. 81 to have all three of those cars supporting at Road America. We will continue to provide the best car we can and hopefully we can get the consistency, speed, and luck to win this thing three races from now.”

For Liefooghe, the final races pose an interesting challenge as all three circuits favor the BimmerWorld BMW in some areas, but could provide an even greater advantage for the competition in other sections. Beyond circuit-based considerations, Liefooghe sees completing three clean races as another element that will influence the Championship outcome.

“As we saw in Road America, a lot can happen in three races,” he said. “A lot of podium contenders for that race got tangled up in the first lap, and that opened up an opportunity for us. If we consider that the tracks for the rest of the season will have the same flavor as Road America and base the results on pure speed, the outlook could be a little grim. Last year, we won at that track with a good strategy and competitive lap times, yet this year, we did not have the speed that other cars had. It is hard to argue against cars with an extra 3mph or more on the straights, especially when they have the same weight and bigger tires. Fortunately, BimmerWorld will keep engineering our E90s and try to get even more out of the chassis. We are still on track to win the Championship.”

Road America featured the latest top-10 for BimmerWorld’s in-house developed F30 chassis, and at its current rate of progress, running towards the front of the ST class is becoming an expectation during a year of discovery with the car.

“The F30 has been a solid car all season, and we are finding fewer surprises, which is allowing us to focus forward,” Clay explained. “We want our first win in the new chassis this year, and I think we have it in the car. We have had a few solid finishes in a row now, and I feel like that is our current expectation for the new chassis. The F30 is our team’s future and at this point it looks very bright.”

UP NEXT FOR BIMMERWORLD: VIR, August 23

FOLLOW: BimmerWorld at www.BimmerWorldRacing.com

ROAD AMERICA RESULTS & QUOTEBOARD:

No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), Qualified P24, Finished P17

Eric Zimmermann: The No. 80 drove great at Road America. It was my first time there, but was able to bring the car from 24th to 15th during my extended stint. Unfortunately, we had to make our driver change under green and fell a lap down.

Tyler Cooke: My closing stint in the No. 80 unfortunately didn’t go as we hoped. I left the pits a lap down due to some issues. The team did a great job and the car had great pace. I was able to run with all the cars in the top five and ten. I’m looking forward to VIR with the momentum from both cars.

No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), Qualified P14, finished P4

Tyler Cooke: My opening stint in the No. 81 went very well. I was able to drive the car from 14 to 5th which was great and gave the car to Greg in a strong position. Greg drove the car to 4th which was a great job!

Greg Liefooghe: I was lucky enough to have the No. 84 behind me throughout the stint to help me. Teamwork paid off.

No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), Qualified P20, Finished P7

Dan Rogers: Overall, we were pleased with the results of the race for the No. 82. We saw improvement in qualifying from our earlier practice times, avoided the mess in Turn 5 of the first lap, and turned a good car over to Seth for the finish.

Seth Thomas: Great race and result for Dan and I. The action throughout the race was intense. Every time I would get around one car I had to work hard to get another position. Overall the competition in the ST Class is some of the best sports car racing you can find.

No. 84 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30), Qualified P11, Finished P6

Jason Briedis: We were lucky to avoid the first lap accident as cars were wrecking in front and behind. After that I was just concentrating on maintaining track position and preserving the car so James would have something for the second half of the race.

James Clay: Jason did a fantastic job of both qualifying the car and moving it forward during his stint. The green flag stop was well executed, and we got a little help with a yellow to bunch the field. I was more committed to helping the No. 81 this race, but we didn’t have the car to win it anyway. Another solid one in the books for us though, and I am excited to get to VIR for our next round to spray some champagne!

BimmerWorld Wins Big At Elkhart Lake, Places All Three Cars Inside The Top 10

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Leave it to Wisconsin’s Elkhart Lake, one of the world’s greatest race tracks and also one that demands the best handling and braking capabilities of all the events on the 11-race Continental Tire Series calendar, for the BMW experts at BimmerWorld to have its breakout race of 2013.

With all three of the Virginia-based tuning and aftermarket shops’ BMW 328is rocketing to the finish line at the 4.0-mile circuit, BimmerWorld claimed a 1-3-8 finish for its three full-time entries and also gained invaluable knowledge about its brand-new BMW F30 which made its competition debut.

Looking at the big picture, the win by touring car veteran Gregory Liefooghe and his sophomore GRAND-AM teammate Tyler Cooke was just what the team and the duo in the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i needed with the Championship winding down. And with the sister No. 80 of Greg Strelzoff and Connor Bloum taking third on the day, followed by a competitive run to eighth for Dan Rogers and Seth Thomas in the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW, team owner James Clay left the event feeling proud of the overall effort produced by his program.

“We closed up the gap created by some early-season bad luck this weekend,” he said. “All three cars performed exceptionally well and as we draw down to the end of the season, we are getting closer to the Championship leaders and focused on that goal for the final three rounds. Days like this are hard to come by in this series, and you have to celebrate them when they do happen.”

Clay also raced last weekend, unveiling the team’s BMW F30 with co-driver John Capestro-Dubets. Although the race was used as more of an extended test session than an attempt to compete for points, Clay says the lessons learned at Elkhart Lake will help BimmerWorld to accelerate the car’s development at a much faster rate.

“The debut of the new BimmerWorld F30 chassis car was incredibly smooth and rewarding – much more so than I had expected,” he confirmed. “We knew we didn’t have the power we ultimately need to race for wins, but this weekend was a solid test and next step in the development process. I was very pleased with the performance of the new car at this stage.”

His teammate was also extremely optimistic about what’s to come with BimmerWorld new Continental Tire Series challenger.

“The F30 was simply amazing,” said Capestro-Dubets. “We still lack the top-end speed due to some engine restrictions from the series, yet the car shows a signs of a bright future. We no longer have to wish we had a turbo or one of the smaller cars to be competitive at every track. The car is in my opinion is the best looking car in our class and extremely fun to drive. BimmerWorld and BMW really knocked it out of the park with this one, and fans and BimmerWorld customers have something really special coming to the paddock.”

Shifting from BimmerWorld’s future back to its present, Liefooghe and Cooke proved that the team’s 3-Series E90 platform still has the winning combination after starting from pole position, and with the help from BimmerWorld’s peerless pit crew and race strategists, standing on the top step of the podium was a just reward for all of the effort put in this season.

“This win was a result of teamwork and strategy,” said Liefooghe. “Tyler started off the weekend by taking the pole and he managed to pull away with two other competitors. Dave Wagener, our engineer, decided to pit off-sequence and extend Tyler’s stint which put him in the lead and allowed him to pull away from the field. When I got in the car, an ill-timed full course yellow moved us back in 16th.

“I was able to come through the pack and when I found myself in 5th, I had pulled away from the main pack behind me and the lead pack was too far to catch as I didn’t have a drafting partner to make up ground. At that point we decided to save fuel and see what happened. And that allowed us to pick the rest of our competitors as they were running out of fuel in the last 15 minutes.”

Liefooghe and Cooke were right inside the top-10 in points before the race, but the win vaulted the No. 81 entry to fifth in the standings.

The No. 80 of Strelzoff and Bloum earned a second-place finish earlier this year at Road Atlanta, and after a string of bad luck, including Bloum breaking his leg and sitting out two rounds, the teammates were back together at Elkhart and captured a well-deserved third-place result.

“Having Connor back was a great boost for the entire team, and he did an excellent job during his stint,” said Strelzoff. “His leg wasn’t a problem, and I was able to settle into a good rhythm when I was in the car. This really was a team result this weekend, and shows what we’re capable of when things go smooth. It was great to be on the podium again!”

Rounding out the BimmerWorld BMW 328i trio was the team’s top car in the Championship, with Rogers and Thomas pushing the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® car to the lead pack late in the race before pit stops to take on fuel moved the car back to eighth.

“The Elkhart Lake race is a classic ‘glass half empty/half full’ experience,” explained Rogers. “The strategy calls made by the team were spot on – given the history of the race and the series, another yellow was a good bet – it just didn’t happen.  While we would have loved a podium, and had the car for it, we still made good gains in the Championship points battle.  So we choose to look at the weekend as a net gain. Most importantly, the momentum is with the BimmerWorld team heading into Kansas.”

The BimmerWorld team, like the rest of the GRAND-AM entrants, move from Wisconsin to race at Kansas this weekend, giving crews very little time to prepare for battle on the 1.5-mile oval featuring an infield road course.

“The full-time crew guys and a few of our fly-ins headed to Kansas immediately after the race, where we have good friends and a warm invitation to turn the cars over in a shop facility,” Clay noted. “A stretch on the road like this is a test of the guys, and I feel an opportunity for our team to shine. We just had a fantastic race and we’re focused on having another one in Kansas.”

Follow the BimmerWorld team this week at www.BimmerWorldRacing.com, and be sure to watch the Nos. 81 and 80 run to first and third at Elkhart Lake when the race airs Saturday, August 17 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2.

BimmerWorld Ready For Championship Push At Road America, Will Debut New BMW Chassis

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Leading GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series team BimmerWorld Racing will have two objectives in mind this weekend at the Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

The three-car program, which has fielded BMW’s 328i chassis built on the E90 platform since joining the series in 2010, is once again in the Championship hunt. Two of its entries are currently inside the top-10 in both the drivers’ and teams’ standings.

With seven rounds already completed in the 11-race season, Road America marks beginning of the final push towards the 2013 Street Tuner title for BimmerWorld. And with the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i driven by Seth Thomas and Dan Rogers sitting fifth in the standings, and the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i of Gregory Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke in eighth, team owner/driver James Clay sees great opportunities ahead for both cars to improve their respective Championship positions.

“We are still nicely in the pack for the Championship race and with four rounds remaining; each race is becoming more important,” he said. “With Road America being the first of two back-to-back races, coming through this one clean and with a solid result is critical.  We have a solid team and equipment, and this is our time to shine.”

While the BimmerWorld team concentrates on its bid for a first GRAND-AM crown, a new chapter will also be opened—one that looks towards the future—as a fourth entry will compete with an entirely different set of goals in mind.

The series’ has showed a willingness to reward smaller, lighter (and often turbocharged) cars in the Street Tuner class, and despite the race-winning success of BimmerWorld’s house-built BMW 3-series E90s, Clay made the call to start developing the brand’s latest 3-series, the F30, which weighs less than its predecessor, among other performance-minded improvements.

The team is managing its expectations for its brand-new F30, and after nearly a year of planning and preparation, the value of the data that comes from its first outing will far outweigh its on-track performance.

“This weekend has been a long time coming for me,” added Clay, who will share the No. 84 with BimmerWorld veteran John Capestro-Dubets (JCD). “The new F30 platform presented, and is still presenting, some intense technical challenges.  We have been working on both the build and development of this package, which utilizes a few features that are new to both the BMW racing world, and racing in general.  This weekend is about putting the car on track and finding issues as we continue to develop the platform to a contender for 2014.”

For JCD, a return to racing action in the Continental Tire Series has been long overdue.

“It feels good to be back!” he exclaimed. “Having been away since the last race of 2012, my personal goals are just to feel out the new car and give the best feedback possible. Most of all, I just want to see BimmerWorld’s hard work with the car behind the scenes pay off.”

The No. 82 combo of Thomas and Rogers is coming off a third-place finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and with BimmerWorld’s highest-placed car in the Championship, the two know what they need to accomplish in Wisconsin.

“We are in the home stretch of the season and this the time to stay focused on the goal of winning a Championship,” said Thomas. “We are fifth in points but with four races left we are close enough to bring the fight down to the last race.  After our performance at Indy, the momentum is in our favor with the next couple of tracks being good for BMWs.

“Road America is the key to our run since it is the next race.  This track has been good to BimmerWorld and our BMWs since James Clay scored his first professional win back in 2008. The track suits our cars with long straights, big braking zones for the PFC brakes to perform their best and long sweeping turns that showcase the balance of the BMW.  I think we will see good things out of the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW this weekend.”

Along with the No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW that will have Greg Strelzoff and a fully mended Connor Bloum back at the helm, the No. 81 car will see Liefooghe and Cooke looking to conquer the sprawling four-mile road course that’s become a national treasure for road racing fans.

“Although we’re not where we want to be in the championship standings just yet, the field is very tight and it allows for huge swings in the order after each race,” said Liefooghe, who has formed an incredibly effective partnership with new teammate Cooke. “We are in the home stretch and we will be focusing on getting the maximum points we can get. Road America should be a great place to do so for our BMW.

“And it’s been great working with Tyler so far. We have gelled really well and we usually end up with the same feedback for the car. I know we have a strong pairing, and it will play an important role in the last races as everybody will be getting a little more aggressive to move up in the championship.”

Follow the team’s progress this weekend at www.BimmerWorldRacing.com

BimmerWorld Rookies Race To Second Place At Road Atlanta

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The BMW experts at BimmerWorld have always prided themselves in providing clients with machinery that’s fast and capable of winning, and at Road Atlanta last weekend, the team’s newest driver combo took hold of that opportunity and went to the front of the field.

Competing at Round 4 of the 2013 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series held in Braselton, Ga., rookies Greg Strelzoff and Connor Bloum put their prodigious talent on display and capitalized on the speed and performance of the BimmerWorld-built 328i chassis to lead portions of the 2.5-hour endurance race on their way to finishing second.

It was a marked turnaround for the duo after misfortune limited their most recent results in the Street Tuner class.

“I am proud of the rookie drivers in the No. 80 who are honing their craft as the season progresses,” said BimmerWorld team owner James Clay. “They were also the top-finishing BimmerWorld car at COTA, and this is the result of our team fielding three equal cars, which is important to me and the drivers that we sign who want a fair shot at race wins. And certainly Greg and Connor’s finish brings some levity to otherwise somewhat frustrating event for the team.”

The sister Nos. 81 and 82 BimmerWorld BMWs had the pace to join the No. 80 in the lead pack, but poor driving by two different competitors left the cars in need of immediate repair.

“We had three great cars this weekend as we returned for the first time in years to what we consider one of our two home tracks,” Clay continued. “Both the No. 81 and 82 were robbed of the strong finish they were headed for, and instead collected some silly contact damage. Certainly when this many cars are on track, some damage is expected, but it is really unfortunate when it is so obviously avoidable.”

For Strelzoff, putting the recent frustrations behind and getting down to good, hard racing with his teammate was a joy.

“Amazing; a dream come true,” he said. “Connor drove amazingly well. I was getting more and more nervous as the time ticked down to the checkered flag. Every race weekend the two of us have made improvements and steps forward towards better results. After two heartbreaking results, we are very glad to have many breaks go our way. The result just motivates Connor and me to work even harder.”

Behind the No. 80, Gregory Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke were coming off a fifth-place result at the most recent race, and expected to finish in an even stronger position at Road Atlanta, but contact soured their run, dropping the No. 81 to 13th.

“We knew we had the fastest car on track and could have been right there with the No. 80,” said Cooke. “The race didn’t go how we wanted it to but we still came out with some points and that’s better than nothing. We won’t let this hold us back, and we will be sure to go even harder at Mid-Ohio.”

The frustration felt by the No. 81 drivers paled in comparison to what Dan Rogers and Seth Thomas experienced in the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i. The series veterans, racing at Thomas’ home track, had a specific plan to avoid situations where other drivers could errantly hit the No. 82, but they still couldn’t escape the competition cleanly.

With the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i crew members forced to replace front and rear suspension on the car, a 22nd-place finish was all the team could salvage.

“Mixed emotions describe our weekend very well,” said Rogers. “Seth and I are really happy for Connor and Greg for getting their first podium. The BimmerWorld crew did a great job with all three cars under extraordinary circumstances. All three cars had the pace, track position, and strategy to finish at the top of the field. Unfortunately, two of the three BWR cars got taken out of contention by extremely poor choices by other drivers. The No. 82 was handed a deep hole to dig out of to remain in the championship hunt.

“Having said that, we are still in the hunt. We’re 11 points out of third, and 15 points out of first. Road Atlanta shows how one race can shake up the standings. The development BimmerWorld has done with the BMW E90 chassis is solid, the strategy calls are spot-on, and the crew is the best in the Continental Tire Series paddock. These three things give us a car that can win, even if it isn’t the fastest car on course. The CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW will be there at the end of the season – you can count on that.”

Watch the Road Atlanta race on April 27th at 2 p.m. ET on SPEED, and be sure to follow BimmerWorld at www.BimmerWorldRacing.com.

BimmerWorld Leaves Elkhart Lake With GRAND-AM Podium, Hunting For More At Watkins Glen

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The BMW experts at BimmerWorld are always prepared for fight in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series, and last weekend’s race at the picturesque Wisconsin road course proved that the Dublin, Virginia-based team can never be counted out.

With the odds stacked against them on the high-speed 4.0-mile road course, due mostly to the engine air restrictors its inline-6s are required to use and the excessive ballast the normal-sized BMW 328is are forced to carry, the James Clay-owned team entered the weekend expecting to see its smaller, lighter rivals in the Street Tuner class motor away on Elkhart’s numerous long straights.

BimmerWorld’s fears were realized when even the least developed entrants were able to pull out significant gaps on the three-car 328i effort, but with a decided advantage under braking and through the corners, at least one of BimmerWorld BMW’s managed to pull off a solid finish, despite setting a best lap that was nearly one-second slower than the fastest ST car in the race.

Realizing that a win was beyond the scope of reality, Clay and co-driver John Capestro-Dubets (JCD) used an exceptional amount of guile and inch-perfect driving to secure a third-place finish in the No. 80 BimmerWorld entry, the best result for the duo so far this season.

“I was happily surprised with the No. 80’s results at Elkhart Lake,” said Clay. “This is one of my favorite tracks and I love the speed and commitment required in some of the high-speed sections, but it was clear going into this event that we didn’t have the power to lead a pack of cars and we had better keep our nose in the draft.  I was able to stay in a multi-car draft in my stint, and JCD took advantage of the big hole that a two-wide battle in front of him created late in the race, which rewarded our current ‘right place at the right time’ passing approach.”

For second-year GRAND-AM driver JCD, maturing into the pressure-packed role of being the closer has resulted in the No. 80’s two best finishes—a fifth at Mid-Ohio and a third at Elkhart—in consecutive events.

“Mid-Ohio and Elkhart Lake were just a start to the momentum James and I plan to end the season with,” said the young Californian. “Over the last few races my confidence has improved in the closing role and the team’s confidence in me to get the job done has followed.  With their continued support and the great car the team provides, I have everything I need to continue at this level and also to improve and become more polished under pressure. I’m really looking forward to doing it again in our next race at Watkins Glen.”

Well behind the No. 80, the No. 81 of Barber Motorsports Park race winners Gregory Liefooghe and David Levine soldiered home to finish a disappointing 14th after being hit by a competitor and losing any chance of staying in the draft being utilized by the lead pack.

The No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i driven by Seth Thomas and Dan Rogers encountered a virtually identical scenario, and after being hit and losing the draft, the teammates fought back to eventually place a distant 17th at the checkered flag.

Using the Elkhart event to assess its current state of competitiveness, three years into its GRAND-AM ST program BimmerWorld has adapted to the changes the series has mandated to the best of its ability. With the BMW 328i chassis and engine slowed a bit more each year, Clay has witnessed BimmerWorld go from vying for the championship in 2010 to being on the outside looking in at most rounds in 2012.

BimmerWorld’s lone win this season came as a result of the ‘right place at the right time’ dynamic Clay mentioned, rather than watching his cars march to the front of the field on pure speed, driver skill, or team execution, and despite honing his team into one of the most efficient and forward-thinking operations on pit lane, the chance to challenge for wins from round to round will only come when the rules are balanced to include the 328i.

“We have solid cars that are consistent and this season shows that we are a constant threat for a podium from all three BimmerWorld entries,” Clay explained. “But we also rely on a bit of luck and gifts from our competitors more than I would want. We are executing impeccably and we should have three cars in the top 10 almost every weekend.

“But as this race showed, if we slip out of the draft of the leaders and fall back into the portion of the field that has straight-line speed–and then slows down significantly in the corners, we just don’t have the acceleration that others have to battle for position, or to lead a pack of cars without a draft to catch back up. There’s not much else we can do at this point.”

Looking ahead to this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen, Liefooghe, who has quickly asserted himself as one of the elite drivers in the Continental Tire Series, expects the team’s Performance Friction brake package to continue to play a significant role in BimmerWorld’s results, and also points to the handling refinements the team has developed as a key to quickly navigating the 3.4-mile, 11-turn track.

“Even though the rules package is not in our favor, our BimmerWorld BMWs still have advantages in some places compared to the rest of the field,” he said. “One of the places where we shine is top end speed, but the problem is we are the slowest to get to that speed because of our extra ballast and lack of torque. Fortunately, our handling is great.

“Watkins has a lot sweeping corners where we should be able to maintain more rolling speed than other cars and therefore make up for our lack of torque. Despite being the heaviest car in the field, we have a braking advantage due to our PFC brakes at corners like the Bus Stop, so I’m optimistic things will be somewhat better than they were last weekend. We will always fight for the best position possible, even if it’s a big task.”

Follow the team’s progress this weekend atwww.BimmerWorldRacing.com, and be sure to tune in and watch the No. 80 earn third at Elkhart Lake when the race is broadcast July 8th at 12 p.m. ET on SPEED.

BimmerWorld Races Into Halfway Point Of Season At Elkhart Lake

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In a perfect world, all of the different types of cars in GRAND-AM’s Continental Tire Series Street Tuner division—big, small, turbo and naturally aspirated—would be competitive at every one of the 10 tracks the series will visit this year.

The reality, as most teams have learned, is that the rules favor certain types of cars from year to year, and depending on which end of the rules a type of car falls within, some tracks are bigger challenges than others.

For the BMW experts at BimmerWorld Racing, the beloved 4.0-mile Elkhart Lake track has provided some incredible highs in the past, including team owner James Clay';s first professional win while driving the BMW E90 (328i) chassis, but heading into this weekend’s race in Wisconsin, the three-car E90 team is focused more on earning points than planning to win on sheer pace.

“I think our E90-platform cars are top performers in braking and in the turns now, which is no small feat being between 100 to 500 pounds heavier than the rest of the field,” said Clay. “But unfortunately, Road America is a track that also requires a dose of straight line speed, and with the current restrictions on our cars, our strategy is more to focus on consistency and try to be at the right place at the right time for someone to give us a position.

“This is a tough strategy to go win a race, as drivers in our series rarely give away first, but until we get to use a little more motor relying on the solid BimmerWorld equipment and team is our best approach and hopefully good enough to put us near the front again.”

Teamed with John Capestro-Dubets in the No. 80 BimmerWorld 328i, Clay and “JCD” are coming off a fifth-place finish at the most recent round in Mid-Ohio where the sophomore GRAND-AM driver executed a flawless race to the finish line.

“I was super proud of John’s performance in the last round in Mid-Ohio,” Clay continued. “He fought his way forward and defended his position to lock down a solid finish. We have worked some on analysis between rounds and I think his next stint will be even better. We are halfway through the season and we are getting the momentum we need to close out the year strong.”

Sharing the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW with veteran pro driver Gregory Liefooghe has been the perfect recipe for GRAND-AM rookie David Levine in 2012. In addition to the duo winning Round 2 in Alabama, Levine is currently second in the Rookie of the Year standings and he hopes to use local circuit knowledge to his advantage while RoY honors are within his grasp.

“My rookie season in the series has gone much better than I ever could have imagined,” he said. “I am really looking forward to Road America this weekend. It is my home track. I know the track extremely well and will be pushing myself to get the most out of the car. I will not be satisfied with anything but a top 5!”

Staying with the smaller cars on Elkhart Lake’s long straights is too much to ask for normal-sized cars like the 328i, but as Clay alluded, the BMW’s enhanced handling and braking characteristics should help BimmerWorld to dominate the corners.

As Seth Thomas explains, he and Dan Rogers, co-drivers of the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i, along with the rest of the BimmerWorld fleet, plan on taking the fight to the rules-favored cars this weekend.

“Our Performance Friction brakes are going to be our biggest advantage at Road America,” he said. “With the long straights, where we will be stretching the legs of the BMW inline-6, we need a good set of brakes to slow down our cars lap after lap. If there are long green runs then this will be our advantage toward the end of these runs.

“If there aren’t long green runs then the BMWs long wheelbase will help us to be quick in the sweeping fast corners leading onto the main straights at Road America. Overall I think the BimmerWorld BMWs are going to be fast and ready to compete this weekend.”

Follow BimmerWorld’s progress as it races at Elkhart Lake by visiting www.BimmerWorldRacing.com, and watch the race when it’s airs July 8th at 12 p.m. ET on SPEED.

BimmerWorld: James Clay Wins Elkhart Lake SPEED Touring Car Race

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In a season thus far dominated by factory teams, BimmerWorld’s breakthrough at Elkhart Lake was a popular one amongst fans and drivers. “I never knew what to expect after I got my first win the Touring Car, but it seems like the entire paddock-guys like Peter Cunningham, Pierre Kleinubing, and the rest of the guys made a point to congratulate me and the rest of the team. It means a lot. I think they understand how hard we’ve been working to make this happen.”

After heartbreak at Elkhart Lake in 2004 and 2006, Clay wasn’t willing to let the likelihood of winning distract him until he dove past the checkered flag. “I’ve been here before…I’ve had races I could have won before and have known it was something our team was ready for, but so often something silly would happen and the win would slip away. I wouldn’t let myself celebrate until I passed the start finish line.”

At a time when most drivers would be jumping up and down in a burst of emotion, Clay took his first win in stride. “I knew we could win all weekend long. I don’t mean to sound matter of fact, but this result is what I knew I was capable of and what I knew our car and team was capable of all year long. I’m really happy to have won, but I’m not surprised; if anything, it reaffirms that we have the right ingredients and can win more races.”

Clay’s elation to claim his first win was measured with appreciation and respect paid to the technicians that build and run all three BimmerWorld BMW E90’s. “The biggest thing I have to say is that this wasn’t my win today

BimmerWorld: Elkhart Lake SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Preview

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While they’ve all had highs and lows, the team’s mixed fortunes at Elkhart are a blend of comedy and misery. For Nick Esayian – pilot of the #34 Debt Cures BMW E90, the state is responsible for his college education and also his racing education.

“It was my home track when I started racing there in 1992 until I moved in late 1995. I had quite a few wins there along the way, but I’m still fishing for one in World Challenge.” You’ll have to excuse Nick–his memories of the track have a few gaps, thanks to one race that ended in unconsciousness! “Certainly one of my worst memories was getting KO’d in the Kink a few years back. I didn’t even remember my son’s 1st birthday party which occurred later that day.”

Team owner and driver James Clay, pilot of the #36 BimmerWorld BMW, has avoided head trauma at the track, but that’s not to say he hasn’t been knocked around a bit. “My last two World Challenge weekends at Elkhart amassed 4 incidents, split evenly between 2 barrel rolls and 2 walls. I love the track and I think it is about time it loved me!”

Lumps not withstanding, Road America has also left a few presents at Esayian’s doorstep. “My fondest memory was the Cat SCCA National in 1994. Chrysler arranged for me to get the first NEON ACR (American Club Racer) off the line so we could run the race and promote the ACR program. Something broke on the car the first practice lap and we had it towed back to Milwaukee. The late Jerry Zimmerman and I had to drive it back to the track that night after we fixed it in a blizzard on shaved tires! We were almost killed a dozen times during the drive. It’s a longer story with a lot of twists, foul weather and phalanx of great folks involved, but in the end, I think I finished 2nd to Galati in the race. It’s a grand track that brings back a lot of memories for me.”

Now racing the finest BMW touring car in North America, Esayian’s anxious to get this year’s race weekend underway. “The E90 should stretch its legs there, and we should do just fine, but I am done with predictions. The guys wrenching on our cars have done great work for us this year and they deserve a win. The time for talk is over.”

Seth Thomas hopes his #38 BMW E90 can push back against the Japanese cars that have remained in a favorable competitive specification all season. “They’ve won all 7 rounds this year, but I know our cars are capable of winning too. We’ve worked tirelessly all year. Let’s hope the Series steps up before the season is over.”

James Clay is in a similar frame of mind. “Certainly if we have a speed advantage we will do well and the sweeping corners help our cause, but if some of the other teams pull out more Mystery Speed Oil, we’ll be in store for another challenging event. We’ll know in a few days time.”

Unlike some race weekends that are held in less than inspiring venues, the BimmerWorld team is prepared to make the most of their time spent in the colorful surrounding’s of Wisconsin’s most famous race track. Clay sees the opportunity to enjoy the local foods as something that can’t be missed. “With the race on Sunday, I plan to be in Wisconsin for 5 hard days of work on the track. Unfortunately, this may eliminate a little bit of fun that the area offers, but we’ll be sure to make some time for double-brats and a bit of steak.”

Esayian’s goals for an overload of carnivorous delights and sampling the local libations are a notch or two above Clay’s. “Let the dining and drinking commence! Swartz’s is one of my favorite places to eat so I’ll most likely be hitting the prime rib there five nights straight, and then plan to wash it down with some booze to keep my heart from calcifying. No fancy atmosphere; just great food. My James Hunt years of bad behavior are over so I’ll save the heavy boozing for a post podium romp.”

Follow all of the action from Wisconsin this weekend at BimmerWorldRacing.com with driver blogs, photo galleries, and exclusive in-car videos for your viewing pleasure.

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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