BimmerWorld Racing Captures Podium Finish at VIR in Unpredictable Race

BimmerWorld Racing Captures Podium Finish at VIR in Unpredictable Race

The Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge two-hour race at VIRginia International Raceway was filled with mayhem. Four full-course cautions brought about unpredictable lead changes due to numerous accidents between leading cars, and the on-and-off rain around the 3.27-mile circuit only intensified the bedlam.

With solid driving and a bit of luck on their side, the No. 80 BimmerWorld Racing/Airbnb BMW M4 GT4 of Ari Balogh and Mike Sheen was able to take advantage of the dynamic situations. Their third-place result in the Grand Sports (GS) class gave them their first podium finish of the season in their first co-driving effort.

Unfortunately for BimmerWorld’s team owner/driver James Clay and co-driver Devin Jones, the No. 82 BMW M4 GT4 was caught up in the madness. Just three laps before the race finish, a Mercedes-AMG driver hit the BimmerWorld car, causing them to spin and resulting in a broken rear suspension which ended their race and greatly reduced the team’s overall points standing.

Again this season, rain conditions were a major factor in the outcome of today’s race as many drivers befell to the changing conditions.

Qualifying was canceled due to weather, so the starting grid was set based on points. That resulted with Clay starting on the front row, second in class, and Balogh starting in 24th.

The first caution came out on Lap 4 when rain caused the first off-track excursions as a McLaren and Mercedes-AMG collided hard. By that point, Balogh had already charged his way up 10 spots into 14th overall while Clay maintained his runner-up spot.

IMSA officials were able to open Pit Lane while the safety car stayed out, allowing teams to change to rain tires if they so desired. The green flag was displayed nearly 40 minutes in with the No. 82 BMW M4 GT4 in fourth place and the No. 80 in eighth after both entries had taken advantage of tire-change pit stops.

With just 45 minutes remaining, both BimmerWorld cars pitted for driver changes and new tires. Jones replaced Clay in the cockpit, while Skeen replaced Balogh. Skeen soon found himself wedged between the TCR class leaders as he fought for position before a second full-course caution came out. The top 16 GS cars were all on the same lap with just 10 laps remaining, and approximately 20 minutes left in the race.

On the restart, the two leaders collided and went off track, causing the third full-course caution which lasted only two laps. On the restart from that caution, Jones, running sixth in the scrum, was jostling for position when a Mercedes hit him at Turn 5 and spun the No. 82 BMW M4 off-track, breaking the rear suspension and bringing out the fourth and final caution of the race with just three minutes to go.

The final restart was run in tandem with the white flag, setting up a one-lap shootout. The leading Porsche went a bit too deep into Turn 1 and made contact with the second-place McLaren, causing him to spin. This brought Skeen up into fourth for the checkered flag.

Although the Porsche crossed the finish line in first, a post-race penalty was assessed for the last-lap incident, and the win was awarded to the second-place Ford. This elevated the Skeen/Balogh BMW M4 GT4 entry to third place, giving Skeen his best MICHELIN Pilot Challenge finish while Balogh matched his previous best finish. The 19th-place finish for Clay and Jones moved them down to third in the GS points championship, 29 points out of first with two races remaining.

The VIR MICHELIN Pilot race, the Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix, will be televised tape-delayed on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.

The next and penultimate round of the MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series will be the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Laguna Seca, Calif. on September 13-14.

Post-race quotes follow

Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., driver, No. 80 BimmerWorld/Airbnb BMW M4 GT4:
“The whole weekend has been awesome, but surely the last few minutes of the race were hectic. I didn’t know if we were going to be able to finish under green with the conditions and the timing, but I’m really happy we could move up a few more positions and put the car on the podium. Ari did a killer job to drive it from the back and get the BMW up into the hunt. Then I just tried to finish it off from there.”

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4GT4:
“We knew it was going to be a crazy day. It seems weather has affected every race this year. We weren’t as good as I’d hoped in the wet. Unfortunately, that shuffled us down a little bit. Devin was making up a couple of spots before he got drilled early on, and then we had a little bit of a handling problem after that. Then it started raining again, and everyone wanted to be on the top step with the final lap restart. Ultimately, we got taken out by one of our competitors.

“Certainly, I’m not thrilled with the results of our race, but as a team owner, I’m thrilled for our No. 80 car. They drove a great race, ended up on the good side of the luck out there today, and capitalized to bring home a very solid result for the team!”

Devin Jones, Mooresville, N.C., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4:
“Starting from the beginning of the weekend, it was great to be here at VIR, a home race for us. We have a lot of friends and family that come out for this one, so we always want to try to do well. We didn’t have quite the pace we wanted in practice, but we were pretty optimistic about it going into the race. The first part of the race, our pace seemed pretty good; we were on par with everybody. James did a great job at the beginning in another race with mixed conditions of dry, rain, then dry again.

“I got in the car and it seemed like we were in a pretty good spot, able to work our way up to sixth. I knew those last restarts were going to start to get crazy. A lot of guys started driving a little bit over their head, trying to make something happen. I probably got hit four times in this race, which I think is more than I’ve gotten hit all year, so that was frustrating. Then the No. 35 car finally finished us off and really drilled us pretty hard, which was unfortunate to have happened. Overall, a big bummer because it set us back in the points, but we have to keep marching forward and try to make the best of the next two races for everybody who supports us. We’ll try to finish the year out strong.”

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 MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series in the Grand Sport (GS) class with a BMW Motorsport M4 GT4, where the Virginia-based outfit has become a winner and championship contender. It was also the Street Tuner champion of that series in 2018. 2019 also marks BimmerWorld Racing’s return to the SRO TC America Championship in the Touring Car (TC) class with two BMW Motorsport M240i Racing cars.

BimmerWorld Racing Returns to VIR with Two-Car Team and Support for Racing to End Alzheimer’s

BimmerWorld-Racing-Returns-to-VIR-with-Two-Car-Team-and-Support-for-Racing-to-End-Alzheimers

The BimmerWorld Racing team continues with a two-car effort this week at their home circuit, VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race, August 24.

The Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix for the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge two-hour race is the eighth of 10 rounds in the 2019 season. Team owner/driver James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and Devin Jones of Mooresville, N.C. will co-drive the BimmerWorld Racing No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4. Ari Balogh, of Menlo Park., Ca. and Mike Skeen of Charlotte, N.C., will pilot the No. 80 BimmerWorld Racing/Airbnb BMW M4 GT4. Both cars will compete in the Grand Sports (GS) class at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course.

Clay and Jones continue their championship quest as they head to VIR in second place in the tight GS class standings with three races remaining.

The Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix weekend starts on Friday, August 23, at 9:40 a.m., with a one-hour practice, followed by Practice 2 at 3:25 p.m. and Practice 3 at 6:50 p.m. Qualifying for the GS class immediately follows TCR qualifying Friday evening at 7:35 p.m.

The open-grid fan walk begins at 1:20 p.m. on Saturday. The field will warm up its Michelin tires at 2:05 p.m. for formation laps, and the race is scheduled to start at 2:15 p.m. for two hours of wheel-to-wheel action and excitement.

The event will be streamed live on imsa.tv, and there will be live timing and scoring on imsa.com. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN on Friday, August 30 from 10:00 p.m. for two hours. All times are Eastern.

Announcement

BimmerWorld Racing is once again partnering with Legistics to raise awareness for the Racing to End Alzheimer’s charity campaign. The No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4 will serve as a national billboard for the penultimate race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Donors can get the name and hometown of a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s emblazoned on the BMW race car, and donations will be tripled for a limited time. Visit www.r2endalz.org/bimmer for more information.

Pre-race quotes follow:


James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4:
VIR is your home track and always a favorite for you. You’ve said the Uphill Esses are the most challenging and rewarding. What is your favorite memory at your favorite track?
“It’s really hard for me to narrow that down because this really is an amazing track and facility, and I enjoy it every time I’m here. But a win here this weekend in the middle of a tight championship battle would land pretty close to the top of the heap I think.”

There have been some pretty epic wet weather races at VIR. What’s your view on racing in the rain at VIR?

“It’s wild—I suppose it’s the time of year we race here, but this VIR weekend so often ends up being a mixed-weather challenge on race day. And in a year which has already had so many mixed conditions, it seems like the stage is set for VIR to do something really big. But I love driving here, rain or shine, and I think we’re ready for whatever the track throws at us. I may even prefer the challenge of a wet or mixed track.”

You are using your No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4 as a national billboard to raise awareness again for the Racing to End Alzheimer’s cause. Tell us about that.

“This is a great cause and an organization we started working with last year. It was very well supported by our customers, and we wanted to keep going with it, and this year we’re adding in a donation batch from our team. OPTIMA and Veristor have generously donated their space on the car for us to add names for this year’s Laguna race honoring family members and friends of our donors.”

You have Mike Skeen joining Ari Balogh this weekend. Tell us about that pairing and how it came about.

“We’re happy to have Ari back with us for a couple of races this year, and given the VIR venue, longtime BMW driver and VIR resident expert Mike Skeen came to mind as a solid driver pairing. I’m looking forward to adding both to the team for this year’s race.”

The state slogan is Virginia is for Lovers. What do you love about Virginia?
“I travel across the country and the world for racing, and I think VIR really encompasses one of my favorite aspects of Virginia—a rolling road with lots of elevation, rolling through a classic and picturesque setting with lush green trees and grass.”

Devin Jones, Mooresville, N.C., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4:
You are using your No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing OPTIMA Batteries/Veristor BMW M4 GT4 as a national billboard to raise awareness again for the Racing to End Alzheimer’s cause. Tell us about that.
“It’s very exciting to have Racing to End Alzheimer’s back on our BMW. It was an absolute honor to sport the names of individuals and families that were affected last season, and I’m looking forward to having more names on the car for upcoming events this year. If anyone wants to donate and have your donation tripled in value, you can go to http://www.r2endalz.org/bimmer to learn more!”

VIR is your home track and also a favorite for you. Share your favorite VIR racing story.
“VIR is my home track, and I have had lots of great memories here. My favorite would have to be in 2016 where it rained so hard the pits flooded and made for an absolutely crazy race. It’s something about this time of year at VIR; the weather is unpredictable.”

There has been some great racing this year in the MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series. What makes this such an outstanding racing series?
“The mix of manufacturers, drivers, and teams are what makes this series so much fun for everyone involved. People always come up to me and say our series is their favorite to watch and I think that says a lot about IMSA and the fans that support us.”

The state slogan is Virginia is for Lovers. What do you love about Virginia?
“I am a North Carolina boy at heart, but since Virginia is the neighboring state, I can’t say there is much to not love about Virginia either.”

Mike Skeen, Charlotte, N.C., driver, No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4:
Welcome to the BimmerWorld Team. Tell us your thoughts about joining the team and co-driving with Ari Balogh this weekend.
“Ari has experience with the team as well as VIR and this car, so I’m sure we’ll all hit the ground running. We all know the series is very competitive, but I expect that we’ll be right in the thick of the fight, and hopefully we can bring home a solid finish.”

You and James Clay have known each other for a number of years and even both raced up Pikes Peak a couple of times. Tell us a little about your history together.
“I’m very excited to race with BimmerWorld at VIR. I’ve known James and followed his race team for many years having grown up in the BMW enthusiast community and in the same region. We’ve attended many of the same track events over the years and have even tried to work together in the past, but the pieces just fell into place this time.”

You were born in Virginia and now live in Charlotte so VIR must be your home track as well. Share your thoughts about how you like the VIR circuit, your history driving at the track, and your plans this weekend.
“VIR is my home track and I have many laps and race wins, including one just last year in GT3. There will be many friends coming to enjoy the event with us, and I hope we can put on a good show. I’ll also be racing in the IMSA Michelin Prototype Challenge race at the end of the day on Saturday, so it’ll be a busy weekend!

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 MICHELIN Pilot Challenge series in the Grand Sport (GS) class with a BMW Motorsport M4 GT4, where the Virginia-based outfit has become a winner and championship contender. It was also the Street Tuner champion of that series in 2018. 2019 also marks BimmerWorld Racing’s return to the SRO TC America Championship in the Touring Car (TC) class with two BMW Motorsport M240i Racing cars.