BimmerWorld Racing Takes Top-Five Finish In Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at Sebring

bimmerworld racing takes top-five finish

BimmerWorld Racing had strong showings in the GS and ST classes of Friday’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series race at Sebring International Raceway. However, adverse circumstances in the 2-hour and 45-minute race led the Dublin, Va.-based team to finish down the order, with a fifth-place finish in ST and eleventh-place in GS.

In the GS class, team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver, Tyler Cooke of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had an eventful race with their No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4. Clay started seventh, topped off the fuel during a strategy stop on lap 11, and handed the car over to Cooke with 50 minutes remaining on lap 26.

Cooke resumed in ninth place and was setting blistering fast laps to regain ground. He advanced several positions, but with 25 minutes remaining, the BMW and a McLaren went for the same spot of race track and made contact. Cooke was hit with a drive-through penalty that all but ended his run to another podium.

In the ST class, Nick Galante of Greenfield, Mass and Devin Jones of Mooresville, NC started from the third position in the No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i. Galante was able to nudge the F30 328i into the lead on lap 1, holding his spot for four laps. The run was short-lived, however, as the 2nd-place MINI made contact with Galante in an effort to take back the lead. Both cars spun but were able to continue. Galante was able to fight back and retake the lead four laps later. Overall, the No. 81 led a total of 14 laps through the race. Fate had other plans for the BMW though, as the car was low on fuel and the team was forced to pit for emergency fuel under a yellow flag while the pits were closed. This drew a 60-second penalty.

The car made its only scheduled pit stop a few laps later when Jones took the controls. Jones had a solid and less dramatic stint, but the time deficit was too much to overcome the speed of the MINIs.

Nick Galante, Greenfield, Mass., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“My stint was good, and I had a good start. I had a good pass on one MINI going into Turn 1, and then I got the lead from another MINI going into Turn 7, so that was good.

“I had some pressure from the No. 37 MINI and out of nowhere, I got hit. It seemed like it came from very far back, so I didn’t see it coming. Luckily, our car wasn’t that damaged. It went from 100 percent to about 95 percent. The contact knocked some toe out of the rear, which may have actually helped it turn better in some of the turns. I hunted down the other ST car and regained the lead again four laps later.

“Then we were running out of fuel as a yellow came out. We entered the pits when they were closed to take on an emergency five gallons of fuel which drew a penalty.

“After the driver change, Devin had to come in and serve our drive-through penalty. If we had another yellow, we might have been able to fight back and have a chance to win, but it wasn’t our day.

“Being out there to race couldn’t happen without Legistics, Racing To End Alzheimer’s [R2Endalz.org], and Veristor. BimmerWorld Racing did an awesome job with the car; James Clay is the best. It was just tough.”

Devin Jones, Mooresville, N.C., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was an interesting race. Nick did a great job in the first stint recovering from the spin. He was able to rebound and get back in the race and was leading when he came in for fuel.

“We were hoping for another caution, but even if we had one, we ended up with a sensor issue, so we were running low on power.

“It was just one of those days. The BimmerWorld guys did a great job getting the car prepared, and we’ll get back up there for Mid-Ohio. The car has the speed; we just have to work some of the kinks out of it and we’ll be good.”

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“We made a change to the car after qualifying and were hopeful we’d addressed a small handling issue, but unfortunately, I think we made it a little bit worse. The car was still solid and able to run fast, especially in longer stints and after half the fuel load was burned.

“Our strategy kind of led us to always run at a full tank. We pitted early and used the opportunity to fuel up, and we had great pit stops, but ultimately track position was probably more important than a fast car this weekend. We had a drive-through penalty for some contact during Tyler’s stint which didn’t help, but he did a great job out there, and it is what it is. Sebring is a tight track, so when you have two cars that are good on the straight, you’ve got to find your place to pass. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the room, and maybe they thought it wasn’t their place to give it. That’s racing.”

Tyler Cooke, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“We had a car that we knew could have finished on the podium. I was battling with several cars, and I went down the inside of the No. 69 McLaren. We both turned in for the corner, and he gave me a little less room than a car could fit. I ended up tapping him and received a penalty for it, and that kind of killed our day. It’s unfortunate for the team.

“We had a quick car, and as the stint went on, we got quicker and quicker. I knew we had about 25 minutes left when I made the pass, and I knew it was ‘go’ time. Unfortunately, the outcome is what it is. Eleventh place isn’t that terrible, so we’ll move on to Mid-Ohio and make up for the hit to our points.”

The race will be shown on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, March 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern. The next event is May 4-6 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. More info is available on imsa.com.

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. It competes in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series in both the Grand Sport (GS) class with a brand-new BMW Motorsport M4 GT4 and in the Street Tuner (ST) class with a turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis), where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and championship contender.

BimmerWorld Racing Plans to Maximize Its Momentum at Sebring

BimmerWorld-Racing-Plans-to-Maximize-Its-Momentum-at-Sebring

After getting off to its best start ever in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series with a pole and a victory in the Street Tuner (ST) class and a second-place finish in the Grand Sport (GS) division at Daytona, BimmerWorld Racing will try to carry that momentum into the second race of the season Friday afternoon, March 16, at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver, Tyler Cooke of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will drive the Dublin, Va.-based team’s GS entry, the brand-new No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4. Nick Galante of Greenfield, Mass. and Devin Jones of Mooresville, N.C. will share the team’s ST entry, the No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis). A total of 38 cars in three classes will duke it out on the historic 17-turn, 3.74-mile road course before a partying crowd of fans enjoying their annual rites of spring.

Three practice sessions will be held on Thursday, March 15 at 10 a.m., 2:05 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The five ST cars and six Touring Cars will hold a joint qualifying session at 5:55 p.m. that day, while the 27 GS cars will qualify 20 minutes later.

The Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 race will be from 2:45 p.m. through 4:45 p.m. on Friday followed by the 66th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday.

Live video coverage and live timing and scoring of the race will be offered on imsa.tv and imsa.com, respectively. The race will also air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, March 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All times are Eastern.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
How is getting off to such a great start helping the team and its drivers?
“Our Daytona weekend was our best start to an IMSA season, or maybe any pro season, to date! Our two-class attack this year provides the opportunity to win twice, which we almost did. BimmerWorld’s mastery of our F30 328i ST car after five years of development along with BMW Motorsport’s support of our GT4 M4 really give us the tools we need. I think I can safely say that everyone here is very happy with how the season started, but of course now that puts us in the position of trying to repeat, or even better that result, which of course will be a challenge. It’s a long season, but I like where our momentum is set four hours into it.”

In what ways is BMW Motorsport helping you develop your new M4 GT4?
“BMW has been great to work with as we sort out this M4 GT4 race car. Our BimmerWorld team has a lot of familiarity with the chassis which has certainly helped as we continue to work on what started as a great platform. But when we come up with an oddity, question, or issue, BMW is there with a solution, which is a big shift from our previous in-house cars. We are still learning the car and technology, which is important for our BMW performance parts business, and now we are working with the engineers that designed the car to get there much faster — and win some races along the way!”

You’ve developed a lot of different BMWs. What are the main strengths of your new GT4, and what are the areas that you’re working on most to improve it for the Continental Tire series?
“So far, our M4 GT4 has shown to be very reliable and consistent. That may sound bland, but that’s very important to me because that’s what wins endurance races. To run a four-hour event for our first race with such a great result says a lot about the car. The car wasn’t originally tested on or designed for the Continental tires we run, so we’re working on the setup to make them work well — especially with putting power down coming out of turns, which was a soft spot for us at Daytona due to some compromises we made for the race there and which will be more important at other tracks.”

The car you ran here last year was one of the heaviest cars in the field. Where does the new M4 GT4 stack up in the GS field? Is it also one of the heaviest cars?
“The BMW M4 GT4 is currently about average with the IMSA BoP. The light and very slick Porsche had some clear advantage at Daytona, and it will be interesting to see where our strengths are as the season progresses.  A BMW has always been just ‘pretty good at everything,’ but this is obviously a stacked field, and we’ll certainly be working hard all around.”

Last year you qualified second and led every lap of the first half of the Sebring race in ST until a freak problem on the pit stop caused a long delay. Still, you were able to battle back for a sixth-place finish, just 0.035 out of a top-five. Now you’re in a brand-new car and in a different class, but you’re still fielding the ST car for Nick Galante and Devin Jones. The size of that car’s fuel tank changed last year due to the rules and its fuel economy suffered. Is that still a challenge, or has that been rectified for 2018?
“The BMW 328i ST car picked up where we started at the end of last year with a fair balance of performance from IMSA. We’re still a gas-guzzler when we stay in the boost all the time, and the large fuel tank and heavy fuel load add to the already heavy car, but we worked really hard to minimize the effect of those challenges and have a solid car. Devin and Nick came out of the gates strong, and we had a perfectly reliable car for the race with two strong drivers, and the result followed. I hope for more of the same at Sebring.”

One of the special things about Sebring is its spring-break crowd. Do you have any favorite memories of things you’ve seen at Sebring that you can share?
“We have been racing at Sebring since the early 2000s, and it has certainly been wild at times. I think we solidly held our ground in Green Park in years past, but my favorite memory was going to get pizza one night after I put my car into the Turn 17 tire wall. When I came back to the car, which had been attached to our transporter with chains while the guys pulled the frame with our dually under the direction of one of our friends and competitors, the side was peeled off the car like a can opener. And one of the race fans and certainly local heroes who introduced himself as Awesome Randy explained the finer points of straightening our bent door by digging a hole and running over it with the truck. You can’t make up a more absurd sounding cast of characters!”

Tyler Cooke, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
Last year at Sebring you started your stint from 13th place due to a refueling issue, and yet you still almost got a top-five finish. It was an intense effort. Since you’re in GS now and there are more GS cars than any other class, do you think you can do it again?
“I’m confident it can be done. We have a strong car; that was shown at Daytona. After the February test, James and I felt really good about what we are showing up with, and we think that can be done again.”

Sebring is known for its bumps. Since you have a lot of experience there, do you know where most of them are and do you actively look for new bumps during practice? What is typically the bumpiest part of the track?
“Turns 1 and 17 are where they’re the worst. In the old ST car, there were many pictures of us three-wheeling through 17 because the bumps were that violent. It’s what makes Sebring the challenging track it is.”

You grew up in Cooper City, Fla., and Sebring was the site of your first victory ever in car racing. If you could talk to yourself back before that first victory here, what would you tell your younger self?
“In 2010 I won my first-ever car race, and what a moment that was. I would’ve been smarter with my passes and how I could’ve gotten to the front sooner. Overall I wouldn’t change much because it’s still an awesome day!”

Sebring has a great deal of history. What does it mean to you to be able to race on such a historic track?
“It’s great! You can see and feel the history. It’s a track that all the guys I have looked up to have raced on. The best part is, most of the pavement is still original.” 

One of the special things about Sebring is its spring-break crowd. Do you have any favorite memories of things you’ve seen at Sebring that you can share?
“Something that makes Sebring the way it is, is the people that dress up like cows, the guys that dress up like monks, and the school bus that got turned into a giant Corvette. It’s controlled craziness, and that’s why so many people love it.”

Nick Galante, Greenfield, Mass., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
You and Devin were winners in your first time driving together. How excited does that make you for Sebring and for the year ahead?
“The entire combination this season is exciting. The entire team is a good fit. I know I’m looking forward to driving with Devin this season and keeping this train rolling.”

How do your individual driving styles compare?
“I think we’re very close and similar in lap times, but looking over the data so far, we are achieving the same result in a different way. This is always a good thing. We can take a couple of little things from each driver and go faster.”

You won this race last year in ST with Spencer Pumpelly. Now you have a whole different car, a whole different team, and a whole different co-driver. What will it take to repeat?
“Last year was an exciting race for sure. I learned a lot from last season. I’m looking forward to a repeat with BimmerWorld. It will take the entire team coming together and doing what we do.”

This race is half as long as the season opener. Is that good, bad, or does it matter?
“I don’t think it will matter. I feel we have a good overall package we’re bringing to the series. By that, I mean the team, the drivers, and the equipment.”

Sebring has a great deal of history. What does it mean to you to be able to race on such a historic track?
“It means a lot, from the World War II training field to the historic racing throughout the years. It is an honor to be out there competing on the world stage.”

One of the special things about Sebring is its spring-break crowd. Do you have any favorite memories of things you’ve seen at Sebring that you can share?
“The level that these fans go to is like no other track. I love it! There are the elaborate makeshift party stations constructed through the facility and then there are the fans themselves! Roaming packs of cow costumes and Vikings are great to see. You never know what to expect.”

Devin Jones, Mooresville, N.C., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
You and Nick were winners in your first time driving together. How excited does that make you for Sebring and for the year ahead?
“Our performance at Daytona has given us a great deal of momentum leading into Sebring. Our Veristor/BimmerWorld Racing BMW is strong and we’re confident with how it’s running. The season couldn’t have gotten off to a better start with a pole and a win, but Sebring is a different animal, so we have to stay level-headed and focus on executing another race with no mistakes.”  

Do you think you can duplicate your Daytona pole at Sebring?
“I think we’re very capable of another pole at Sebring, with Nick or myself in the car. I came close to getting the pole there last year but ended up getting knocked to third in the final seconds of the session, so it would be nice to get some redemption. Our car should be suited well for Sebring, so our chances are good.”

What’s the biggest difference driving a turbocharged car than the non-turbocharged car you drove last year?
“The turbocharged BMW is very different to cars I’ve driven in the past. It requires a change in driving style and it helps to have some patience with it. Once I learned what the car liked in terms of my driving, it can be a big benefit in gaining time around the track. The main concern is always keeping the tires in good shape through the stint.”

Nick is a former series champion, but the season opener was your first Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series victory. What did you do to celebrate, and now that you’ve had a little time to reflect upon it, how does it affect you going forward?
“It was a huge win for me personally. My mom and dad were there, which made it really special. They supported me so much through my career in racing and to have them with me at Daytona was something I’ll never forget.

“Daytona is a place you dream of racing when you’re a kid. I never imagined I’d get a win there. Getting Veristor to victory lane was also really cool. We have been together since I ran late models in 2012. They watch every race and to finally get them an IMSA win had me really pumped up. Now we want to go get some more!”

One of the special things about Sebring is its spring-break crowd. Do you have any favorite memories of things you’ve seen at Sebring that you can share?
“I think the key part of this question is, “that you can share;” there is a lot of wild activity at Sebring! This is going to be my sixth time at the 12-hour, and it’s become one of my favorite events of the season. 2011 was my first time coming down for the race week, and I just remember all the creative buses and RVs that were in the infield. It’s truly a race that’s one of a kind, and the fans that attend make the race what it is. I always enjoy rolling around the infield in the golf cart and seeing how packed it is around the whole facility.”

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. It competes in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series in both the Grand Sport (GS) class with a brand-new BMW Motorsport M4 GT4 and in the Street Tuner (ST) class with a turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis), where the Virginia-based outfit has become a routine winner and championship contender.

BimmerWorld’s BMWs Dominant at Sebring But Settle for Less

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live video streaming and live timing and scoring will be available on imsa.com and imsa.tv. The television broadcast will be on FOX Sports 1 on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, March 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All times are EDT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BimmerWorld Makes History With BMW F30 Pole And Podium At Sebring IMSA Race

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Three seasons of intense development with BMW’s turbocharged F30 (328i) platform by Virginia-based BMW tuning and aftermarket experts BimmerWorld paid off with a thrilling drive to third place in Sebring last weekend.

The accomplishment by BimmerWorld team owner/driver James Clay and his teammate Tyler Cooke, who earned pole position at the legendary Florida road course, marked the first pole and podium for the four-cylinder turbo BMW F30 in worldwide pro racing competition. Those firsts were only made possible by BimmerWorld’s incredible staff of technicians who overcame adversity on two occasions to help make history.

A broken fuel injector triggered a fire during testing on Tuesday with Clay behind the wheel of the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i, which necessitated a significant amount of repair work before Cooke was able to earn the F30’s maiden pole position.

“I was pulling into pit lane after doing an installation lap and as I lifted off the gas, a lick of flame came out from the hood and I deployed our Lifeline fire system as I pulled it into our pit box to get things under control, and our crew made sure we ended the fire. While I was fine and safe, the car was damaged,” Clay said. “It took a lot of hours to get back to the place where Tyler could go out and show the BimmerWorld F30’s capabilities.”

More drama would emerge after qualifying when it was determined the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW would require an engine change. Per the rules in IMSA’s Continental Tire Series, the change meant BimmerWorld would surrender its first-place starting position. Cooke faced the incredible challenge of starting last in a field of 36 cars—26 belonging to the Street Tuner class where the 328is compete.

Rewarding the BimmerWorld crew’s tireless efforts was a clear motivation for Cooke who charged from the back of the field to a high of second place in ST before handing the car over to Clay, who fought among the leaders and secured an amazing third to thrust the OPTIMA Batteries BMW onto the podium.

“BimmerWorld has been committed to developing the F30 from the beginning and it was fantastic to have that work rewarded with Tyler’s pole and finishing the race on the podium,” Clay added. “I’m even more proud of our team and everything they did to make this possible. And there’s more to come. We know winning is on the horizon.”

The Sebring event ranks among Cooke’s finest overall performances as a young professional racecar driver on the rise.

“The fire put us behind, but I can’t say enough how proud I am of the team for putting in a lot of hours and a late night to get the car rebuilt,” said Cooke. “Qualifying came on Thursday and it was great to see the team so happy after receiving the pole. It was very unfortunate to have the engine changed, but James and I knew we had a pace to get through the field.

“On the start I looked for any and every gap to make passes, but without putting the car in danger. James got in and had an excellent stint to bring the car home third. The best part about the weekend was the history we made. This platform has never sat on the pole nor gotten a podium in the world and I’m happy James and I could do it. I’m proud of the team for all the hard hours over the years to get us there.”

The sister No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW driven by impressive rookie Jerry Kaufman and Kyle Tilley was also gripped by misfortune in the days leading up to the race. For Kaufman, a rookie in the series, the pre-race problems were mitigated by a strong qualifying performance and a combined effort in the race that saw the car finish 13th.

“I did surprisingly well in qualifying, but it was a very hot race,” Kaufman said. “The heat took some power out of the turbocharged engine and I worked the rear tires too hard early in the race.  Once they got hot there was no way to get the tire temps back down, and it became a fight to keep the car on track.  Congrats to the 84 car; those guys did an excellent job managing their car, and they got a great result because of it.  The BimmerWorld team did an amazing job despite problems thrown at them.  This team continues to impress me.”

Added Tilley: “It was a tough week for us in the 81, and Jerry’s effort in qualifying was fantastic giving the challenging circumstances. I was able to drive the car from 23rd to 13th, the crew did a great job of turning our weekend around, and we were able to get some solid points in the bag. Onwards and upwards!”

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

BimmerWorld Prepped For Sebring Race With Updated Turbo BMWs

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The BMW aftermarket and tuning experts at BimmerWorld have a new opportunity to show the pace and progress of their turbocharged 328i models this weekend at the historic Sebring Raceway circuit.

Coming off the season-opening IMSA Continental Tire Series event at Daytona International Speedway where the sister Nos. 81 and 84 BimmerWorld BMWs demonstrated front-running speed, team owner/driver James Clay and his staff of technicians have found more gains with the F30 platform for Round 2 in central Florida.

“The No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW was awesome at Daytona, and it felt great to come out of the box with such a great machine and continue that pace moving deeper into the season,” Clay said. “Last year, hot ambient temps made Sebring a challenge for our turbo engine, and conditions are looking similar for this year’s race. The BimmerWorld team did a lot of work focused on cooling over the off-season, and hopefully the additional work since Daytona is the icing on the cake to give us a strong run.”

Teamed with Tyler Cooke in the No. 84, Clay expects the OPTIMA Batteries F30 to be fast throughout the 3.7-mile road course, and to show the BimmerWorld-built BMW’s natural capabilities in vital areas around the 17-turn facility.

“Tyler and I are both strong at the tracks we visit this season, which really opens up some options on running the car,” Clay continued. “Sebring is good to a BMW, and BimmerWorld has won there multiple times. We showed tremendous braking potential at Daytona with our Performance Friction brake package, and that will be even more important at Sebring where a couple of key braking zones are the best places to make hard-fought passes. It’s a track that suits us, and I just can’t wait to get racing!”

Clay and BimmerWorld veteran Cooke will share the track with team newcomers Jerry Kaufman and Kyle Tilley in the sister No. 81 BMW F30. The duo impressed on their debut at Daytona, although their race was somewhat short-lived after a clash between Kaufman and another car ended their day. And with Kaufman’s unexpected marriage proposal made moments before the race (his girlfriend accepted), could he have more fireworks in store for Sebring?

“The biggest lesson learned from Daytona is knowing when to go for a pass and when not to,” Kaufman said. “Jumping up from 12th to fourth as quickly as I did probably gave me too much confidence in my ability to pass going into fast corners. Sometimes there is room to go two wide, and sometimes there isn’t.

“Sebring is another unique track. It isn’t very forgiving, so it will be even more important to get the pass done early. I don’t necessarily have another proposal in mind, but if we win Sebring, don’t be surprised if you see me driving to Disney World!”

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

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

BimmerWorld Leaves Sebring With Another Top-10 Performance

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BMW aftermarket and tuning specialists BimmerWorld experienced two distinct outcomes during their visit to the legendary Sebring circuit in Central Florida for Round 2 of IMSA’s Continental Tire Series.

Fast in the relatively short qualifying session, the high ambient temperature was less kind when it came time to go racing with the team’s turbocharged BMW 328i platform built on F30 architecture. Team owner/driver James Clay and Jason Briedis placed the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries-sponsored F30 seventh on the grid, and despite running as high as third, sweltering conditions meant the tandem had to settle for ninth at the checkered flag.

The No. 81 BimmerWorld F30 driven by team veteran Tyler Cooke and newcomer Andrie Hartanto lined up 13th and was running strong until being spun by a rival. With time lost as Hartanto sat stationary, the duo was left with an unrepresentative finish of 20th.

“Sebring was a tough race for our turbo cars,” said Clay. “We have been battling high inlet temps since last season, which resulted in some engine failures last year. Looking at the weather forecast going into this race, we knew we were going to have issues if we pushed the power, so we played it safe. It is a real testament to the strength of our BimmerWorld team to take a car that was mid-pack at best over the course of the 2.5-hour race and finish inside the top-10. It was a challenging weekend, but I am proud of the result.”

With BimmerWorld’s on-track efforts paying back to its clients in the form of improved BMW performance parts and services, Clay says even a tough and hot weekend like Sebring will help the company optimize its offerings for F30 owners.

“Turbo cars are tough and very temperature dependent,” he explained. “Both cars executed well in qualifying and gave us our best time of the weekend in the couple of laps we could run before heat soak took over. We are going to take a big swing at cooling these F30 cars off before the next round – that is the solution, and then we can race with pace, consistency, and durability.”

QUOTEBOARD: Sebring Race

No. 81 BMW 328i: Tyler Cooke and Andrie Hartanto

Cooke: The race didn’t go how we wanted it to; Andrie did a great job running in the top-10 until getting taken out and we learned a lot during the race to help us in the races to come.

Hartanto: It was an uphill battle for me, but I’ve learned that we have an amazing team. In spite of the intense heat which forced us to sacrifice power in order to go the distance, the BimmerWorld crew still delivered a car capable of a top-10 finish. I also discovered that the night before my first CTSC race is not the ideal time to showcase my marginal basketball skills; especially not with a group of highly competitive drivers and definitely not when you end up with a bruised bum, a torn-up elbow and a trip to the ER for some stitches! I realized that our race pace is very strong as we made up a lot of ground after starting from 13th on the grid. I also experienced how quickly those places can be lost when you get hit and spun around. Tyler did a great job closing out the race and ensuring that we obtained some valuable data. It was a great first race and I’m really looking forward to my home race at Monterey!

No. 84 OPTIMA BMW 328i: James Clay and Jason Briedis

Briedis: Considering we were 22nd and 23rd in average fast lap analysis during the race, gutting out a ninth-place finish shows the determination and depth of our team. The heat didn’t help our cause, but we learned a lot and hope to remedy some things before our next race in Monterey.

Clay: Jason did an awesome job with qualifying and in his opening laps before heat soak set in. I was proud of my drive even though we didn’t have the power or pace to do much. Wayne’s pit call was perfect and team execution was spot on. I am super excited to take this strength of team into a weekend with more normal temperatures where we can produce the deserved result!

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.