Hometown Team BimmerWorld Racing Leaves VIR with Mixed Feelings

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Thanks to a home track advantage, BimmerWorld Racing entered this past weekend’s Biscuitville Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway with high expectations. Both BimmerWorld BMWs were in the top ten in championship points heading into the weekend’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race.

As usual, racing luck, penalties, cautions, and always-surprising VIR weather played a big part in the strategy and outcome to round eight of the 10-race series. After capturing the pole in qualifying, the leading BMW team in the ICTSC series was proud to put their F30 BMW 328i on the ST class podium for the seventh time in eight races. The race was not as bright for the team’s GS class entry with a tough battle to 19th place after an unexpected component failure.

Nick Galante, of Greenfield, Mass. qualified the No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis) on the ST class pole with a time of 2:04.987, procuring the BimmerWorld team’s seventh pole in eight races and his fourth.

BimmerWorld Racing team owner/driver James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. qualified the No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4 in sixth place in the GS class with a time of 1:54.528. He had a masterful race start and immediately jumped up to third place on the first lap.

Starting the race under the threat of rain, the skies opened up shortly after the fourth lap of the two-hour, 59-lap race, as rain came down over much of the 17-turn circuit. By the fifth lap, it was raining heavily and many competitors pitted for rain tires; however, a number of drivers elected to stay out a bit longer to see if the rain would subside.

BimmerWorld was one of the teams that elected to leave both BMWs on track and let the drivers manage the slippery track conditions on dry-weather Continental tires. Galante was able to maintain the ST class lead and Clay jockeyed near the front of the field as cars slid off around him. Clay’s best lap time came on lap 3 with a time of 1:55.804, the fastest turned in the No. 82 entry.

By lap 11, the sun was peaking back through the dark clouds and Clay was running a commanding third-place in GS while Galante continued the ST class lead.

On lap 21, 45 minutes into the two-hour race, Clay felt a vibration and had problems while braking and pitted with three rolling wheels, with the forth being dragged as a result of sheared wheel studs. Although they knew their chance for victory had eluded them, points towards the championship were still an important factor, so the BimmerWorld crew went to work making the needed repairs to get the BMW M4 GT4 back on track. On lap 39, 18 laps after they pitted, Tyler Cooke, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., took the car back on track. Even though they weren’t able to run at full race speeds, Cooke nursed the injured car for the balance of the race and eventually crossed the finish line 19th in the GS class.

Meanwhile, Galante stayed on track until lap 30 when he pitted for tires, electing to switch to rains as the skies started to open up again, as well as fuel and a driver change to Devin Jones of Mooresville, N.C. Galante’s fastest lap came before the rain, on lap 3, with a time of 2:06.482. Jones started his stint in fourth place, one lap down from the ST class leader.

On lap 38 with over 38 minutes remaining, Jones passed the No. 37 MINI of Derek Jones (no relation) for third place in ST. Then on lap 45, with 25 minutes left, as the track dried, Jones’ rain tires started deteriorating and the left front tire eventually went flat and required a pit stop for a tire change under green-flag conditions. Although he lost valuable time with the additional pit stop, being out on fresh tires allowed Jones to click off some good times once back on track. His fastest lap came on lap 52 with a time of 2:05.301.

Jones crossed the finish line in fourth place. However, the first place ST class competitors received a post-race technical infraction, allowing the entire class of ST cars to move up one position. Additionally, the third-place finishers were assessed a drive-time infraction, and so the No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis) of Jones and Galante was then awarded second-place honors and the points to match, keeping them comfortably in first place in the ST point championship with two races remaining.

The penultimate round for the 2018 season will be held at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 8 followed by the finale at Road Atlanta on October 12.

The Biscuitville Grand Prix race will air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, August 26 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Devin Jones, Mooresville, N.C., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“When I got in the car, we put on rains [tires], kind of gambling that the rain was going to keep steady. It was working for the first few laps, but then it started to taper off, and the track dried. Then the rain tires started coming apart and started getting really hot, and then one of them went flat. We had a left front flat, so we had to come in and put dries on. We lost a bunch of time there, but we were able to knock off some good laps. We were running everyone down and just kind of ran out of time, honestly. We were probably the fastest time at the end there, but everybody rallied really well. It’s just one of these races where it can fall either way. Rain races are tricky, especially when it’s off and on like that. I just have to thank Trent, James, and all the guys that worked on the car this weekend. We’re kind of disappointed. We thought we had the car to win, but at least we were able to salvage some points and maintain the points lead going into the last two races. With the leader and another car being disqualified, we finished higher than originally scored at the checkered so, overall, we can’t complain.”

Nick Galante, Greenfield, Mass., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We knew the rain was coming and the track was actually wet when we started the race. It was a mayhem of a start with the TCR cars and some of the GS cars dropping back. So, we were actually battling two different classes and a championship at the same time within our own class, which was quite interesting. Jason Rabe drove really well, and we had a great battle back and forth. Collin Mullin had a great start and passed me at the start. We had contact at the exit of turn three, unfortunately. It was unintentional on both sides and it was just good, hard racing. We actually broke our window and had some glass in the car that was affecting our throttle pedal. The car’s pretty good on rain tires in the wet, but on slicks it was a handful. Devin did a great job keeping the car on track and closing in the end to keep us on the podium. The bonus of the extra steps up on the podium after the technical inspection rulings post-race helped with the points.”

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“It was a great start. A great first turn, then the weather started coming and we navigated through that, fell back, and it just got slick as ice out there. Five miles per hour and you were just pirouetting off track. We survived, I’d say there’s a good bit of luck in there, but we made it through all that running strong. The track was drying up. Everything was starting to go our way. We played our strategy. We kept the slick Continentals on the car and all of a sudden, I got a little bit of a vibration. Then, braking into turn ten I said, ‘Oh man, we’ve got a real problem. I need to come in’ and we sheared some wheel studs so I brought it in on three wheels/tires. That wasn’t an easy repair, so we were stuck in the pits a while, watching the cars go by and watching our championship go with it. We got back out, but it cost us dearly. Fingers crossed for a win at Laguna Seca.”

Tyler Cooke, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“Unfortunately, James had a good stint going in, but we broke some wheel studs and the wheel just started flopping its way off. The guys worked for thirty-eight minutes on pit row and got it back. It was tough because we had a car that could have run up front. If this was our bad race of the year, we’ll take it and salvage something out of it, which we did. We noticed that there was something wrong with the car throughout the race. I ran slow laps and wanted to bring the car home. And at least we got points out of today, and that’s the main thing we want to take away. James drove a great stint. I thought we were going to have an amazing race with how he was driving, and it just didn’t play into our favor. The BMW was pretty solid throughout the rain. James stayed on dry tires the whole time, and he was probably the second fastest car on track besides the McLaren, but overall his stint was amazing. I can’t say much about mine because I was just on cruise control trying to get the car back home, but it should have been a great 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 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 Eager to Extend Championship Lead at Home Track of VIR

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The Dublin, Va.-based BimmerWorld Racing team is ready to return to VIRginia International Raceway, it’s home track, for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series and collect more valuable points in its quest for the series championship.

The Biscuitville Grand Prix, a 2-hour race at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn VIR road course on Saturday, August 18, will be the eighth round of the 10-race Continental Tire series.

BimmerWorld Racing’s Nick Galante of Greenfield, Mass. and Devin Jones of Mooresville, N.C., drivers of the No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis), lead the ST class points championship by 11 points heading into the weekend.

BimmerWorld Racing team owner/driver James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and Tyler Cooke of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. drive the No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4 and are currently in fourth place, just eight points out of the GS class points championship lead, so all eyes are still on the championship.

The BimmerWorld team considers VIR their home track, as their shop is only about 100 miles away. Clay, who founded BimmerWorld in 1997, started coming to the track after Connie Nyholm and Harvey Siegel reopened its gates in 2000 under the “country club” model. Using the multi-faceted road course for testing and racing (as well as down-time recreation at the karting track and various shooting ranges) has become a common activity for his local BimmerWorld team.

VIR is also a circuit where the team performs well. Last year BimmerWorld Racing had one of their best races of the year at VIR when Clay qualified on the pole, and he and Cooke finished second on the podium while the second team entry finished fifth.

Galante and Jones have dominated in the ST class this season with three victories and six podiums in seven races. Meanwhile, in the ultra-competitive GS class, Clay and Cooke have captured three podiums in seven races but are still seeking that elusive victory and are hoping for a home track advantage this weekend.

The team feels getting the car setups sorted out early will be a relatively easy task given their knowledge of the track. Adding another enhancement for them is the fact that many family, friends, and sponsors are expected to come out to the Biscuitville Grand Prix race to cheer on their favorite team. The added boost of team spirit and pride to bring home victories for both BMWs in both classes and write a storybook ending for their home track race weekend are prominent on their minds as they eagerly reach for maximum points towards their championship effort.

Practice begins on Friday, August 17 at 9:40-10:40 a.m. and from 3:20-4:05 p.m., followed by ST qualifying from 7:10-7:25 p.m. and GS qualifying from 7:30-7:45 p.m. Pre-race and Fan Walk activities are from 1:20-2:05 on Saturday with the two-hour Biscuitville Grand Prix race scheduled from 2:15-4:15 p.m.

Live video coverage and live timing and scoring of the race will be offered on imsa.tv and imsa.com. The race will also air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, August 26 from 12:00-2:00 p.m. All times are Eastern.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:

Share some of your thoughts about your home track here at VIR.
“I never get tired of driving, testing, and racing at VIR. It’s one of my favorite tracks with an amazing layout to drive. There is simply no piece of pavement in the world as challenging and rewarding as the Uphill Esses, and there are over three miles of sections that are similarly awesome to drive and race. With a variety of scenic vantage points, it’s also one of the best tracks in the U.S. for spectators to watch a race.

“On top of that, the staff here is just awesome. Whether it’s leading the charge in development and implementation of safety standards for racetracks or serving up the best buttermilk biscuits and country ham short of home, everyone at VIR digs in to make this facility the best in the world. I’m lucky to have it essentially in our backyard!”

As the end of the season is just three races away, share your thoughts on the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series this year and what you’re focusing on.
“As we’re closing in on the end of the season, racing at VIR is an enjoyable homecoming to all of us at BimmerWorld. The Continental Tire Challenge points championship is super important to us, and we’ve managed to have our foot in the door all year. With just two races to finish the season after we leave here, getting maximum points in both our GS and ST cars is our goal. In order to do that, we really need to win with both cars in both classes, so it’s a pretty tall order! While it’s not an easy feat, being here at our home track eases the pressure just a little. We always have a lot of family and friends who come out and cheer us on, and that also makes a difference when we’re on track and under pressure.”

Tyler Cooke, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
BimmerWorld usually does some fun stuff at VIR each year for family and friends. What’s on the agenda this week?
“I’m going to be celebrating my birthday on Saturday with my family and team. We typically have a cookout with friends and family of the team and drivers. I’m hoping we win the race, as that would be a great birthday present, and the track would be providing the champagne to celebrate!”

VIR is not always a strong BMW track. Do you think you can overcome that by your familiarity with the circuit as your home track and testing facility?
“I think it’s still going to be a difficult race for us, but I’m confident we can do well. The track suits our BMW M4 GT4 nicely.”

What’s your favorite part of the VIR circuit?
“Oak Tree and Hog Pen turns are my favorites. They are two great parts of the circuit to watch.”

How have you enjoyed competing in the GS class in the new BMW M4 GT4 this year?
“I’ve enjoyed it very much. The racing has been close and the competition tough. I’m looking forward to the next three races.”

Nick Galante, Greenfield, Mass., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
As the season is drawing to a close how important will these last three races be?

“We’re excited to be in the position we are, but we need to stay focused and keep the same amount of pressure on that we have been. These remaining three races are the final step in the championship and are crucial to our goal.”

You and Devin have a good lead in ST points. Do you have confidence you can stay on your success path at VIR and through the end of the year for your championship hunt?

“We do have confidence, not only in our driving abilities but even more importantly, the entire BimmerWorld team. They are the solid foundation that got Devin and I here. Without their ability, knowledge, and professionalism, we wouldn’t have this opportunity.” 

Do the VIR fans appreciate that you’re a Virginia-based team?
“I think they definitely do. Being based out of Virginia will be a big boost in fan-favorite support this weekend. Not only do I love VIR, it’s the fans that make it such a great venue.”

How have you enjoyed competing in the ST class in the BMW this year? 

“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t sure if I’d fit well with the car and if my driving style would adapt to the unique demands of the car. I’ve been more than happy with the car, and it really is a fun ultimate driving machine. The racing this season has been great too. Even though the number of entries in the final season of the ST class has been a bit lower than usual, it’s been a really enjoyable season so far.”

Devin Jones, Mooresville, N.C., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
We’re closing in on the final races of the season now. How important will these last three races be?
“These last three races are going to be extremely important. I feel confident in all three tracks; our BMW should be suited well but we just have to keep our heads down and continue to put our best foot forward.” 

What do you expect to be the most challenging thing this weekend?
“I enjoy VIR so much, it’s one of my favorite tracks on the schedule. However, the weather there is always unpredictable, and as a team, have to be ready for any kind of conditions.” 

You and Nick have a good lead in ST points. Do you have confidence you can stay on your success path at VIR and through the end of the year for your championship hunt?
“There are still three races left on the schedule and a lot can happen in that amount of time. Everyone is gunning for us, so we just need to take everything session by session and do want we’ve been doing all year. This whole BimmerWorld team has all my confidence.” 

What’s your favorite part of the VIR circuit?
“VIR is not only one of my home races but it’s also BimmerWorld’s home race as well, so needless to say, I couldn’t be more excited to come here. This track has everything a driver wants: technical corners, high-speed areas, elevation, hard braking zones, and everything in between! The uphill esses are still my favorite part of the track, but I love the flow of the whole circuit!”

How have you enjoyed competing in the ST class this year?
“This year has been an extremely hard-fought battle. The drivers we’re competing against are top-notch and so are the teams. I am going to miss competing in ST, and the cars in the class will be missed as well when they go away next year. This class has been a staple of the series for years, and come next year, manual gearboxes will be a thing of the past in IMSA, which is crazy to think about!”

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 Racing Finishes Second and Fifth At Its Home Track, VIR

BimmerWorld Racing Finishes Second and Fifth At Its Home Track, VIR

The BimmerWorld Racing team recorded its best results so far this year in the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge series when it won the pole and placed second and fifth with its two turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis) Street Tuner cars Saturday at its home track, VIRginia International Raceway.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. finished second in the Biscuitville Grand Prix with their OPTIMA Batteries No. 84, with a gap of just 1.352 seconds after two hours of competition.

Clay won the pole on Friday with a time of 2:03.584 and an average speed of 95.255 miles per hour. The car that eventually won qualified second and got the jump on the initial start, but Clay powered back into the lead before the first lap was completed and then led every lap of his stint. He stretched that lead to over three seconds at times before turning the car over to Cooke under a full-course caution with 56 minutes remaining in the race.

Cooke started his stint as the class leader after a strong pit stop, but the car that eventually won got the upper hand on a restart on lap 32 with 48 minutes to go. Cooke set the car’s fastest lap of the race on lap 43 with a 2:05.026. He stayed in second place through his entire stint, and the strong finish moved the pair up to fourth in the point standings.

The No. 84 led the most laps for the second race in a row, topping the charts for 30 circuits to the winner’s 21.

Clay was also able to come through for the governor of Virginia who had a friendly bet with the governor of North Carolina over whose state’s driver would finish higher. Clay was second, while the N.C. governor’s choice finished 12th.

The Dublin, Va.-based team’s Powerflex BMW No. 81 also recorded its best finish of the season when Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif. and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco came in fifth. Balogh qualified seventh and then had a spectacular save after an off-course excursion at the start. He was in 13th place when he pitted for Liefooghe to take over, but Liefooghe was back in seventh by lap 33 when the second yellow came out after speedy pit work, some attrition, and good restarts. He moved into sixth on lap 42 with 16 minutes remaining by passing Andrew Carbonell, and fifth on lap 49 with just 2:50 to go by passing James Vance. Liefooghe set the entry’s fastest race lap on lap 44 with a 2:05.285.

The race will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Sept. 3 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Eastern.

Only two more events remain in the 2017 season: Sept. 22-24 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, Calif., and Oct. 4-7 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. For more information, see imsa.com.

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“This is our home track, so we know the track and had the car set up well for it. Things have leveled out a little bit, so we have a good car in the field, and that’s super important. We were certainly hoping for a win at Road America, but the weather interfered. We were obviously hoping for the win today, and we just didn’t have the speed for the Nissan at the restart. We got jumped and couldn’t catch back up and couldn’t get around them — they drove a great race. I’m super proud of our team. Two cars in the top five; it was a pretty solid weekend. We have two more before the end of the year, so let’s see if we can win one of those.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We had an awesome car throughout the whole weekend, and the track took a big change in my stint, so the car fell off a little different than we wanted it. It got really loose, and the track was ripping up with bits of the track surface digging into the tires. There was a lot of stuff going on, but it was a really fun battle with Owen [Trinkler]. He just had more straight line [speed] than me. I was trying my best through the corners, but he would just get down the straightaway a little better. Second place, home track — I’m pumped for that. It helped us in the points and helped us going into Laguna. We’re pretty good at Laguna, so here’s hoping for the best there.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
“I think it was a good race. It was definitely a battle from start to finish. You know, it’s funny, here the cars are all equal in terms of pace, but they all make their speed very differently, so it makes the race seem very interesting but very challenging at the same time. It was definitely a battle to come up through the pack. Ari was running really well. Unfortunately, there was something that happened at the end of the back straight, and we lost a bunch of positions there, but he ran a really good stint. The guys did great on the pit stop, and we gained a few positions there and then we moved up to P5, so it was a good day.”

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

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

ABOUT: BimmerWorld is renowned as a leader in BMW aftermarket and tuning expertise and competes in the 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 Is Excited for Their Home-track Race at VIR

BimmerWorld Racing Is Excited for Their Home-track Race at VIR

Southern hospitality will be very evident at the BimmerWorld Racing transporter this weekend as the two-car team from Dublin, Va. competes at its home track, VIRginia International Raceway.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his co-driver Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. plan to show the Street Tuner (ST) field the way around the 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course with their No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis). The drivers of their sister car, Californians Ari Balogh and Greg Liefooghe, will be working hard to make it a one-two finish for BimmerWorld in Saturday’s 2-hour Biscuitville Grand Prix IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race with their No. 81 Powerflex BMW, although they’d prefer if the order was reversed. Last year Balogh and Liefooghe finished second in this race on a surface that had been recently repaved.

Clay won the pole at the series’ most recent race and led the most laps. He’s anxious to get right to work on Friday when two practice sessions will be held at 10:25 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. before qualifying sessions that evening. The two BimmerWorld BMWs and 16 other ST cars qualify at 6:55 p.m. while the 14 Grand Sport cars entered in the race qualify 15 minutes later to determine the starting lineup for Saturday’s race. Fans can walk among the cars on the grid at 1:15 p.m. Saturday before the track is cleared and the green flag drops at 2:10 p.m.

Live video streaming and live timing and scoring can be viewed on imsa.com and imsa.tv. The race will also air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Sept. 3 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. All times are Eastern.

What do you like best about VIR?

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “I love VIR primarily because, as the saying goes, ‘there’s no place like home.’ And more than VIR being our closest and home track, everyone at the facility just goes above and beyond to make you feel welcome. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that our home track is a world-class facility that’s also one of my favorites to drive and race. It’s a real track, rooted in history, where you have to lay it on the line a little to be fast, and I really like that kind of track.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis): “I really like that the track was an old farm. You can see all the architecture from the old farm as well. It’s a very unique track and one of the coolest ones on the schedule.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.: “VIR is the best track in the United States. It has everything from high speed to low speed, curb hopping, technical parts, flowing parts. The layout is just so much fun to drive.”

Last year new track records were set in both classes with new pavement here, even though it was a wet race. If it’s dry, how likely do you think those records will be broken?

James Clay: “Every year our cars and the IMSA ST field get faster. I’m confident that, weather-dependent, we’ll see track records fall again this year.”

Tyler Cooke: “I think there will be a good chance it will be broken. This year alone we’ve broken quite a few track records.”

Greg Liefooghe: “It will be interesting to see what happens. In this competitive series, the cars go about 1 second quicker per lap every year. Having said that, the pavement hasn’t aged very well and doesn’t seem to have the amazing amount of grip that it had last year.”

How well suited is the VIR circuit for the BMW 328i (F30 chassis)?

James Clay: “This seems to be a good track for our cars and is certainly a good track for our drivers. As is expected, we spend more time here than any other track with our cars, and I anticipate we’ll be dialed in and ready to run at the front.”

Tyler Cooke: “Very good; we’ve always had a fast car there, just not the luck. It’s BimmerWorld’s home track, so we know how to make this thing run up front.”

Greg Liefooghe: “I think VIR will be a great track for our BMW. The car goes really well over curbs, the brakes are great, and we’re making good power to go up the massive back straight. I’m cautiously optimistic about our potential for a good result.”

Do you have a favorite VIR memory that you can share?

James Clay: “I have so many awesome VIR memories, so it’s hard to pick just one. Ultimately, I love the zen of this track, and my favorite memory is probably not a racing one. In the fall, in the late afternoon, when the sun is setting early and the track is cool and fast, I’ve had the opportunity to lap the track a few times in impressive machinery, and there is just something about those solo laps, with no traffic or other disruptions, that approaches perfection for me.”

Tyler Cooke: “My first ever car race outside of Florida was there in 2010, and the crazy elevation changes boggled my mind. It was definitely a track that started out with a good memory and has made many more.”

Greg Liefooghe: “Last year’s race was a lot of fun and a complete adventure. An unexpected storm brought complete chaos and we were able to take advantage of it and finish on the podium. It was definitely one for the history books.”

What would you say to anyone who is thinking about coming out to your race at VIR?

Tyler Cooke: “The race is just a great one to watch. The cars fall off a lot because of the heat, so it really comes down to a driver’s race and who can make the car last at the end.”

Greg Liefooghe: “Depending on the speed of the car, the uphill esses can be boring or the absolute best set of corners in the country. The braking zone at the end of the back straight is another highlight of the track.”

There will be a BMW Car Corral at VIR. Will you interact with it in any way? If so, how?

James Clay: “Our BMW people are always at our races in numbers, and it will be cool to see all the home crowd at this race. We have an official meet-and-greet on Saturday, but we’re looking forward to seeing friends all weekend long.”

Tyler Cooke: “James and I love talking to the BMW Corral. At the end of the day, they help us do what we do by giving us their support. We’ll talk and show them the ins and outs of the race team.”

Greg Liefooghe: “BimmerWorld has a ton of fans in the BMW Club, and with this race being our home race, friends and fans will be numerous. It’ll be exciting to share our experience with them.”

VIR has a wide variety of shooting facilities, including two skeet ranges. Have you ever participated in this type of activity? Have you ever done any other activity other than race at VIR? If so, what?

James Clay: “VIR has a lot more than just the track facilities. I’ve done karting, off-road courses, and both standard-range and long-range shooting. I’m still itching to get my hands on one of the old cop cars to run at nights with the lights off, which was at one time a standard part of one of their training programs.”

Tyler Cooke: “I did some shooting and it was interesting. I’m not a great shooter by any means, but it was cool to take part in it. The go-kart track is a very fun time with all the elevation changes and tight corners. It makes for some great racing.”

Greg Liefooghe: “We’ve had some fun go-kart races at the kart track. I definitely recommend it!”

Greg, last year you and Ari finished second in ST here in a Porsche. What will it take to get on the podium again this year with your BMW?

Greg Liefooghe: “We have a good car this year, and I think we’ll just need to put all the pieces together.”

Our race’s sponsor is Biscuitville, a quick-service chain in North Carolina and Virginia that serves Southern-inspired food. What is your favorite Southern dish?

James Clay: “We just visited the Biscuitville corporate headquarters last week with a car, and they are certainly one of our favorite places to grab breakfast in the area. I’ll narrow it down a little — my favorite biscuit Southern dish is biscuits and sausage gravy, or if I’m cooking country ham also, red-eye gravy.”

Tyler Cooke: “Eggs and biscuits! I got to meet everyone at the headquarters’ office, and they are some real race fans. I’m looking forward to seeing them all there!”

Greg Liefooghe: “What iz zis Southern food you speak of?”

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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.

Wet and Wild Weekend for BimmerWorld Racing at VIR Home Track

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Round 8 of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (ICTSC) was the Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) on Saturday. The two-and-a-half-hour event turned out to be a wet and wild race that started in dry weather before a major thunderstorm blew in and brought out a caution after 31 minutes.

That was followed by a 52-minute red-flag delay to wait out the buckets of rain and lightning that moved through the track that borders the Virginia/North Carolina state line. When the race restarted under caution, the 36-car field had shifted plenty when many cars experienced off-course excursions through hydroplaning. The final 23 laps were run under green and provided abundant action on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn scenic road course.

Both the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i team of James Clay and Tyler Cooke and the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i of Jerry Kaufman and Kyle Tilley were excited to be competing on the BimmerWorld home circuit, as their race shop is only about 100 miles away in Dublin, Va.

James Clay qualified the No. 84 BMW on the front row in the second position on the grid in the Sports Touring (ST) class for the two-hour-and-thirty-minute race. A small post-qualifying inspection infraction sent the team to the rear for the race start. Clay drove smart through the rainy conditions and made quick work of pacing through the field up to seventh place on his favorite home track. However, a fuel hose left out on pit lane got in the path of Cooke during his driving stint and dropped them back, but he managed to bring the F30 home in P13.

The No. 81 BMW of Kaufman, who qualified and started 19th, took advantage of missing the initial fray by the leaders when the weather rolled in and kept the BMW on track. His teammate, Tilley, who enjoys wet weather racing, also drove smart and took the F30 to the checkered flag in the 21st class position.

Because of the unexpected and intense weather, regular pit stop strategy was thrown out the window and it was a matter of keeping the BMWs on track and bringing the cars across the finish line. To add to the race drama, the official IMSA timing and scoring failed in the extreme weather conditions and final scoring had to be completed manually and audited post-race before results became official.

James Clay, Team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We had a great car this race, and we had a great car for qualifying. We were over a bit of maximum on camber, so we got bumped to the back, but we knew we had a good car for the race. It was a fun race from the back, and it was obviously pretty wild – not only to race from the back but with the weather getting absolutely crazy. We worked our way up to seventh then had a little bit of bad luck there with nipping a competitor’s hose that found itself in our path on the way out, so we got knocked down a couple of spots, but it is what it is. Great weekend, but unfortunately the results don’t show it.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was a pretty rough race. The track had no grip. We were up front when we left the pits, but we ran over someone’s pit equipment, so they [IMSA] made us do a drive-through [penalty], and it made us lose a lot of positions. The car did not like super wet conditions. It liked it as it dried out more, allowing us to run on pace with leaders, but once the second drivers start to break away, it’s hard to catch them. But I was running on pace with them. Thanks to the crew, and we’ll get ‘em at COTA.”

Jerry Kaufman, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“Well, James started from the back and I started near the back, but that all proved to be not as bad as we thought, because when the rain came in, it just seemed like everybody started flying off, and we were able to hang in there, pull up pretty far, and get around a lot of cars, but it got so bad to where you just couldn’t even see through the windshield. I’m just happy that we finished. I think this could have been a really bad race for us. I went off in turn one and started braking at the start/finish. It was like a hockey rink out there.”

Kyle Tilley, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It wasn’t a bad race. I was looking forward to it because the wet weather is usually my preferred conditions. At the restart, we were in P12, but we had a pretty good chance to move up from there. Unfortunately, we ended up with a misfire, so we were just a sitting duck. Every time it came to a straight, we slowly went backward, and that was that, really. So, that’s a shame, but we’ll reevaluate and move on to Circuit of The Americas.”

The television broadcast will be aired on FOX Sports 1 on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, September 4 from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM EDT.

The next race, Round 9 of the Continental Tire Challenge, will be held at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) on Friday, September 16.

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 Relishes Racing at Its Home Track

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BimmerWorld Racing hopes for some good luck for the home team as the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge visits its home track of VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., for a 2.5-hour race on Saturday. The Dublin, Va.-based team will field two turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis) race cars in the event, which will be covered live on imsa.com and imsa.tv. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 1:55 PM Eastern time.

James Clay, who founded BimmerWorld in 1997, and Tyler Cooke will share the team’s No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i. Jerry Kaufman and Kyle Tilley are the co-drivers of the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i.

The home team’s drivers have some interesting insights on the nearly 3.27-mile road course and its 17 very diverse turns. The VIR circuit first opened nearly 60 years ago and has raced in its current configuration since 2000. The BimmerWorld team hopes to provide some thrilling action at VIR this weekend along with showing their fans and guests some true Southern hospitality.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
VIR is your home track. Do you expect many customers to attend? Are you planning anything special for them at this event?

“I have driven, tested, and raced at VIR extensively for the duration of its modern history, and it is a special track. It’s an amazing place to drive, with features that are exciting and intense. It’s one of my favorite tracks to race and one of the best in the country for spectators to watch a race from a variety of scenic vantage points. VIR is not only our home track, but it’s also a special place for us. In addition to visits with our VIR friends and customers, and one of our local sponsors, Grayson Millworks, this is our opportunity to show our non-car friends and families what we do. I’m looking forward to racing Saturday, but I’m almost equally looking forward to our annual crew barbecue that my dad puts on for us. If you want to check out cars on Friday, our paddock is the one blowing hickory smoke!”

How many different kinds of cars have you competed in at VIR over the years?
“I have raced at VIR since its modern reopening, and almost since the start of my racing career, so I have done laps in a huge range of BMWs including proper Touring Cars, ground-pounding V8s, beater track rats, and now our cutting-edge F30 IMSA turbo cars. It doesn’t matter what it is, I love running at VIR and look forward to it every year!”

How well do you think the BMWs are suited for VIR?
“I think we have good BMWs for VIR, but we will know soon. We do a lot of testing there, and the track has a variety of features, so the car needs to do it all well. We have significantly addressed past reliability concerns on the BMW turbo engine this year, and we have shown speed at VIR in testing and in previous years. I think we should see the result we have been waiting for this time around.”

If you had to pick your favorite turn at VIR, which one would it be, and why?
“My favorite section of VIR is the uphill esses. I had a reputation early on of cutting corners and driving through dirt, and it is probably well-deserved because it is fun and the way I like to drive. The uphill esses are perfect for this style in a sedan car, and going flat through this section with four tires in the air is exhilarating!”

How will the fairly new paving at VIR change things?
“We will have minimal time on the new VIR surface, and it certainly means a little bit of finding our way, but it is the same challenge everyone will face, and the basics of the track seem to be consistent.”

Do you have any favorite restaurants or activities you like to do in the area in addition to racing?
“As usual, I am dialed in on the Mexican restaurants in the area, and I am sure we will visit at least one. Past that, VIR also has a variety of shooting ranges and they open those up Thursday night for the IMSA officials and friends, so we look forward to that as well.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What is your history at VIR?

“My first race at VIR was in 2010 with the Skip Barber series. The high-speed esses followed by South Bend, then into the famed Oak Tree Corner, really make the track a difficult one to drive. VIR has so many corners that aren’t like the others. In its mix are blinding, high-speed corners and some big-elevation, slow corners, like Hog Pen. VIR has many corners to watch from, like Oak Tree or Turn 3, that give you a really good experience of the race in front of you.”

If you had to pick your favorite turn at VIR to drive, which one would it be, and why?
“South Bend because it’s high speed and allows no errors. It’s a corner that rewards excellence and punishes doing it wrong.”

You and James are tied for sixth in the point standings with three races remaining. Are these next three tracks (VIR, COTA and Road Atlanta) strong venues for your BMW? Why or why not?
“The next three venues are OK for the BMW. COTA is our weakest, but VIR and Road Atlanta are tracks where we have shown good speed in the past. VIR is the home race for BimmerWorld and Road Atlanta is not too far away, so those are two where we want to do well.”

Do you have any favorite restaurants or activities you like to do in the area in addition to racing?
“The tavern at the track has some really good food, and battling in the go-karts at the track is always fun.”

Kyle Tilley, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What is your past experience at VIR?

“Road America and VIR are two of my favorite tracks here in the United States. After the disappointment of not getting to run at Road America, to say I am excited for VIR is an understatement! I have tested several times at the track but only raced there once: the VIR 13-Hour event last year, where Jerry and I won our class! I had to pull off a five-hour stint in the car because Jerry got sick. Hopefully, we’ll have a smoother run this time. Continuing a successful streak at VIR would be fantastic!”

What is your favorite turn at VIR to drive, and why?
“I love VIR’s mix of corners, but it’s the upper and lower esses which really stand out. Every great track has ‘that corner,’ such as Eau Rouge at Spa. Well, for me VIR has the uphill esses! I’m excited to get out there.”

You won your class in the 13-Hour race here last year. Does that experience help you at all for this coming event?
“Having raced here previously in the 13-hour [race] I think will bode well. It was in a car that was not dissimilar to the No. 81. It’s a track I straight away felt comfortable at and winning our class at the 13-hour just helps cement that confidence.”

You’re coming to VIR with a rebuilt car following the Road America crash. What kind of improvements are you looking forward to having for this race?
“Road America was a bitter pill to swallow, we had some upgrades to our No. 81 which I was excited to try! So I am still excited to try them! Obviously, we are going to have to see how things play out with the rebuilt car; however, I have every faith in the BimmerWorld crew and the cars they turn out.”

Do you have any ties to the area?
“I personally have no ties to the area; however, I am very aware that it’s the team’s home event. That, combined with it being one of my favorite tracks, makes this a special event. I am hoping that Jerry and I are able to give the team and the locals a successful showing!”

Jerry Kaufman, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What is your past experience at VIR?

“My first time racing at VIR was in 2013 at the 13-hour endurance race with SCCA. I was instantly hooked on the track and the race. I was in a mid-pack car with IMSA Grand Sport cars at the front and Spec Miatas at the back. There was a lot of great racing, as we were battling quite a few cars in class. There were four challenges: 1. Don’t kill the car, it has to race for 13 hours; 2. Pass the cars in your class; 3. Pass the Miatas without losing lap time, and 4. Get passed by the Aston Martin and BMW M3 Grand Sport cars without losing lap time. VIR is the perfect track for this kind of racing. It is a long track with a wide variety of corners that present many different challenges. There are fast parts of the track that are great for passing and fast parts where you wouldn’t dare pass anyone.”

You’re coming to VIR with a rebuilt car following the Road America crash. What kind of improvements are you looking forward to having for this race?
“The incident at Road America was highly unfortunate and did nothing to help us, but we know VIR. Kyle and I did some testing there a few months ago, and the car handled really well. The team has made some improvements to the car, helping with rotation. It’s going to be great to get back in the driver’s seat.”

You won your class in the 13-Hour race here last year. Does that experience help you at all for this coming event?
“I certainly believe so. There are a lot of passing zones at VIR, and the 13 Hour forces you to use all of them at some point or another. Honestly, I wish that I was able to do races like that at every track we visit on the IMSA calendar.”

Do you have any ties to the area? How often do you get to the BimmerWorld shop in Dublin, Va.?
“I’m from northeastern Pennsylvania originally, but I moved my summer residence to North Carolina. Watkins Glen is my home track, but in a few years, I’ll probably consider VIR to be home. I’ve actually been to the BimmerWorld shop many times. Aside from James, I probably get there more than any other driver on the team. It’s a great group.”

You talked about the VIR circuit having fast parts where you can pass and some where you can’t. Talk about the circuit layout and those areas for passing and not.
“Any time you come off a long straight and into a big braking zone, you can pass. That’s most obvious in Turn 1 and Turn 14, but other good places to pass are Turns 7, 10, and 17. They are fast sections that can work depending on your run up the inside. Be careful, though. Some guys might not expect you to pass there, so make sure you communicate the pass, and make sure that you are alongside, not just having your nose past his or her rear bumper.”

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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.

Another Weekend of Learning for BimmerWorld with New Turbocharged F30 BMW Platform

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The Virginia-based BimmerWorld team was looking forward to a successful race at their home track, and in many ways, the strides made by the BMW aftermarket and tuning specialists during the event were exceptional. Prodigious speed demonstrated in practice and again qualifying with the new BimmerWorld-developed turbocharged BMW 328i had team owner/driver James Clay feeling optimistic for race day with the German brand’s F30 platform.

IMSA’s Continental Tire Series has given the team great opportunities to showcase the F30’s performance attributes, but the 2.5-hour contest at VIR delivered more frustration than fruitful outcomes for Clay’s two-car program. With the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i driven by Andrie Hartanto and Tyler Cooke starring in time trials, and Clay and teammate Jason Briedis following suit in the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW, the best results were captured prior to the race.

“Every weekend these F30 BMW cars continue to get better,” said Clay. “We have tested multiple times at VIR, and we have the cars dialed in there, and they rolled off the trailer quick. We did do a bit of tuning because even though we had speed, the car didn’t feel right and wasn’t the long-distance racer I wanted to drive for hours, but by the last practice, we had them dialed and recorded the unofficial track record in the process. Qualifying again saw both cars inside the top-10, and we had the pace to have both top-5 without traffic issues.”

BimmerWorld races to develop next-generation performance parts for BMW owners, and as VIR proved, a brand-new racing platform like the F30 can present the team with learning opportunities in various forms. And when those lessons take the form of problems, Clay’s staff of engineers and technicians are quick to turn the information into revisions and upgrades.

“We have come far on this N20 turbo engine and it performed well even in hot conditions at VIR, but we had a couple of ancillary issues that caused problems,” he explained. “Now that the long race-every-other-weekend stretch is over, we have an opportunity to go over the cars with a fine-toothed comb. We continue to work on improving the cooling system as the summer moves along and the events get hotter. We were good at the 85 degrees of VIR and will have a few new parts on the car to handle the heat coming up at the next race in Texas.”

With two races left to run in 2015, Clay says BimmerWorld will use the time between VIR and Circuit of The Americas on Sept. 18 in the Lone Star state to bring the team’s F30s closer to Victory Lane.

“The first win of this platform has been within our grasp, but elusive to date,” he noted. “We have the pace and a solid car. I know we are doing everything we can to get that one out of the way before the end of the season.”

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 Aiming for Success on Home Turf in Virginia

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It’s another homecoming race for the BimmerWorld team as IMSA’s Continental Tire Series descends on Virginia International Raceway. The Dublin, Va.-based BMW aftermarket and tuning experts have turned countless miles at VIR during major development programs for numerous chassis platforms, and with the latest IMSA race in their backyard, they’ll get to race in front of a highly supportive crowd.

“I always love racing at VIR, whether it’s with the pro cars, or some form of club event – it’s just a fantastic track,” said BimmerWorld owner/driver James Clay. “Of course it is always awesome to be surrounded by friends and family on a race weekend as well. We have tested here this year and it is the home track for two of our BMW drivers, so I am excited for the home field advantage this weekend.”

BimmerWorld returns to race at VIR with a pair of brand-new turbocharged BMW 328is which are built on the German marque’s F30 platform. Clay and teammate Jason Briedis will pilot the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW, and Tyler Cooke and co-driver Andrie Hartanto will represent the team in the sister No. 81 entry. Competing exclusively with the BimmerWorld-built F30s for the first time at VIR is an important milestone after the team developed, campaigned and won with BMW’s E90 platform for almost a decade.

As Clay’s team did with the E90s, the F30s have been subjected to intense R&D and constant refinement as BimmerWorld uses its racing endeavors to tailor high-performance products for its customers.

“The F30 has made wonderful strides this year, and while we still have turbo development in the works which will be the completion of the ‘full package’ and allow us to deal with the heat the engine generates, we have a solid package,” said Clay.

“We are looking at a hot race weekend in Virginia which isn’t in our favor, but we will have the car setup dialed and should be looking at a good result. The takeaways are significant whenever we race, and our customers will get to see BimmerWorld making more strides with the F30 platform in every session this weekend.”

For Jason Briedis, who’s close to completing his second season of Continental Tire Series action, the chance to race at VIR is regarded as a special occasion. The technical, undulating road course is housed within Virginia’s lush countryside, making it a treat to view from inside the car, and with its high average speed, Briedis says completing a quick lap around the 3.27-mile facility requires great precision.

“The facility itself at VIR is beautiful,” Briedis remarked. “The rolling hills and barn-style buildings make for a very scenic environment. As for the track, South Bend is probably the most challenging corner. It seems like there is always another tenth or two there if you are willing to dig deep. And then there’s the run up through the Esses, and getting out of Oak Tree is also very important. VIR demands your best on every lap.”

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.