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.”

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.

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

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

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

BimmerWorld 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.