Both BimmerWorld BMWs Finish on the Podium at the Glen with the GS Car Now Tied for First in Championship

Both BimmerWorld BMWs Finish Second in Class at the Glen with the GS Car Now Tied for First in Championship

Both of BimmerWorld Racing’s BMWs finished on the second step of the podium in the four-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race Saturday at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. The double runner-up finishes vaulted the Dublin, Va.-based team’s Grand Sport (GS) entry into a two-way tie for first in its overall championship, while its Street Tuner (ST) car rose from third to second in that division’s point standings heading into the next event this Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va., did his best to keep the No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4 in contention in the GS division while protecting it so his co-driver, Tyler Cooke of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., could mount a charge at the end. Their strategy worked well. There were 18 GS cars on the lead lap after the four-hour slugfest, and Cooke took the checkered only 7.938 seconds behind the winning Ford Mustang.

The strategy was different but the results were the same for the team’s ST entry, the No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis). Devin Jones of Mooresville, N.C. captured the class pole and then dominated the race lead for most of the first half and built up a healthy lead before turning the car over to his co-driver, Nick Galante of Greenfield, Mass.

Clay qualified eighth, avoided a multi-car wreck in the esses on the first lap, and stayed in the top 10 during his double stint. He had several good battles, particularly with Kyle Marcelli and Dillon Machavern, and on lap 19 he was hit by Andy Lally, who struggled with handling problems all weekend with his Mustang. Clay survived it all. He was seventh at the halfway point and third due to pit stops by others when he pitted too and turned the car over to Cooke with about 1:47 remaining in the race.

Cooke started his stint in tenth. He broke into the top five with 1:15 remaining on lap 73, passed Al Carter for fourth six minutes later and rose to third with 56 minutes remaining when a lot of his rivals pitted. He pitted himself on the following lap with 55 minutes remaining under a full-course caution, and he was fifth for the restart with 45 minutes remaining. While the BMW M4 has air-conditioning, it was primarily turned off fo conserve every last horsepower, making the sealed cockpit even hotter as the track temperatures registered 128 degrees.

After another yellow, Cooke passed Eric Foss for fourth on a restart with 31:20 left. After another battle with Marcelli that saw them side by side for almost a full lap, Cooke wrestled third away from him on lap 90, only to have Marcelli regain the spot with 26 minutes left. Cooke passed Marcelli back on the following lap, however, and with 23 minutes remaining he was 4.5 seconds behind the second-place driver, Owen Trinkler, who ended up fifth at the end. Cooke was able to methodically cut that distance down and he passed Trinkler for second with 16:47 remaining. He set the entry’s fastest lap of the race on lap 99 while trying to catch the eventual winner, Chad McCumbee. That proved impossible, but he was able to hold off Marcelli’s Mustang by 0.912 to finish second with 106 laps completed in the time span.

In ST, the BimmerWorld entry led the most laps by far, heading the field for 65 of the 101 laps the class’s three podium finishers completed in the four-hour time span. Jones led the first 28 laps, gave the lead up when he pitted, and then led again from laps 34 through 56 before pitting to let Galante take over. The latter started his stint in fourth but led laps 65 through 78 before he had to make another pit stop.

While pitting for tires and a final fuel fill, disaster struck as a hose broke on the team’s fuel rig, leaving Galante sitting in the pits waiting for fuel that wasn’t flowing.  Through some quick calls and crisis management from the BimmerWorld team, the car was sent out to stay on the lead lap, the fuel rig repaired, and the fuel cell filled the next time by which enabled the 81 to start at the tail end of the lead lap, which gave a fighting chance for a podium finish with 55 minutes left.  With 23 minutes left he was third, only 0.430 behind the second-place driver, Mat Pombo. He set the car’s fastest race lap on lap 89 while in third and moved into second place with 9:57 left on lap 100 to seal the runner-up finish.

The race will air in the U.S. on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, July 8 at 7:30 a.m.

This coming Saturday’s Continental Tire Challenge race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (aka Mosport) will be half as long as the Watkins Glen race. Three practice sessions will precede it at 1:45 p.m. and 5:25 p.m. Friday and 9:50 a.m. Saturday. Qualifying is at 10:15 a.m. Saturday for the ST class and 10:35 a.m. for GS. The race is slated to get the green flag at 3:05 p.m. that afternoon.

Live video coverage of the race will be available on imsa.tv from 2:55 p.m. to 5:05 p.m., with live timing and scoring on imsa.com. That race will air on FOX Sports 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 15. All times are Eastern.

Post-Watkins Glen quotes:

James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“Awesome race! We were watching the weather and it was going to be a hot one, and we knew that. The biggest question was ‘Is the car going to stay under us?’ We got dinged a little bit with Balance of Performance [BoP], but we had a BMW and that counts for a lot.

“The heat was brutal. The track temperature was 120 degrees, but our Red Line fluids were up to the challenge. With a turbo engine and all the required coolers for both cars, heat management is critical to keep components from failing, or a car with factory electronics from going into a reduced output mode. Red Line has clearly dropped our temperatures and put us in a safer operational zone.

“I was pretty happy with my drive. Tyler just drove a stellar race. I’m thrilled about this result. To have two of our BimmerWorld BMWs on the podium as a team owner and to have cars that are all together, ready to go to the next round next week is fantastic. We’re one step short, but I’m thrilled!”

Tyler Cooke, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“We had a good race at The Glen. If you had asked me at the beginning of the race if we were going to stand on the podium, I probably wouldn’t have had that answer. The team worked really hard. Our race engineer, Wayne, made some great calls; James drove a great stint, and it was a great points weekend for us. I think we may have tied for the points lead. That was our main focus of the whole weekend, so we’re leaving Watkins Glen happy as we move on to Mosport.

“James and I tend to be pretty good at Mosport. We think we have a good base set up for that, so we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do. It should be quite a bit cooler than we experienced at Watkins Glen, which will be great. I’m ready to go.”

Nick Galante, Greenfield, Mass., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“Every time I get in the heat I notice that I’ll start overdriving, and then I see the other drivers start overdriving. So you have to remind yourself that everybody is going through the same thing. You have to just take a deep breath, under drive just a hair, and let the pack come to you. It started to happen there at the end, but we got a couple of things wrong. It was so greasy out there [on track] that the Continental tires were hanging on as long as they could, but it was just so hot we couldn’t do anything. Our tire pressures may have been too high for that middle stop. But I tell you, the BimmerWorld guys nailed this one. The pole position Devin ‘Too Fast’ Jones put in, his opening stint, gapping that field…it was all phenomenal. He did his part better than I could in the race. I was just hanging on; he was comfortable. The kid is fast.

“I know these BimmerWorld guys are going to polish these cars up and get them ready for Canada. They’ll probably be ready the morning after the race, knowing the way these guys work. I think at Mosport we’re going to have some speed. I think we can still hang on and fight for this championship, no problem. We’re still in it and we’re not even halfway through the season.”

Devin Jones, Mooresville, N.C., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“The BimmerWorld Racing guys did a great job preparing this car. It was fast all weekend. The heat played a little bit of a role today from the standpoint of track conditions. The track was a little greasier and there wasn’t as much grip today for the race, so that caught everybody off a bit. We were chasing the rear end of the car a little bit during the first stint. We made a little tire pressure adjustment for the next stint and it seemed to help the car a lot. I really thought we had the car to win. We had an unfortunate little issue with fueling the car on our final pit stop which kind of set us back a little bit, but everybody rallied well. And we still came away with second, which is good for points and something to build on when we go to Canada this week. I just have to thank Veristor; Nick did an awesome job, and we’re really looking forward to the rest of the season.

“I think we have some good momentum going into the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park race. We are hungry for a win and came pretty close at The Glen, but that just makes us want it even more this coming weekend in Canada.”

Pre-race Q&A for Saturday’s upcoming race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park:

James, you and Tyler qualified just 0.154 off the pole and led the most laps in this race in ST last year, got hit twice, and still finished fifth. What do you think will happen this year, now that you’re in GS and with a new car?
James Clay: “The best thing about IMSA racing and this insanely competitive class is that I have absolutely no idea how it will go — but it will be spectacular! The BMW M4 GT4 is a well-balanced car and BMWs are historically very good in the long, flowing turns there, and I know I love the track and level of commitment it requires. I feel good about it, but I wouldn’t even stick my neck out very far at the green flag as to how we will fare.”

Mosport has predominantly high-speed corners but is very easy on brakes. How will that benefit you and your BMWs?
James Clay: “It has very few significant hard-braking zones because it has primarily fast, flowing corners, but I think the braking performance of the car is more critical here than almost any track! The ability to slow the car down into Turn 8, but with a smooth release so the car will float through the corner at about 150 kilometers per hour is something our Performance Friction Brakes excel at. And braking into the steep hill into Turn 5 is the most pedal pressure we will throw at the car all year, and a critical area for speed. We hope we will have good straight-line speed, but with the fast flow of this track, the few braking areas are where we are going to have to make or defend our position.”

How do you like back-to-back races? Are they exhausting, or do they really get your momentum going?
Tyler Cooke: “I love it; racing is my passion and I love to be in the seat racing wheel to wheel.”

The Mosport track is treacherous in the rain. How do you prepare for a rain race/driving in the rain? Do you like it?
Tyler Cooke: “Rain racing is great. It’s where you see some awesome racing and brings everyone to a level playing field. You prepare for it from years of doing it. If it’s a rainy race, it will keep people on the edge of their seat.”

James and Tyler have proved your car can be a real contender at CTMP. What are your thoughts going into this event?
Nick Galante: “I’ve been watching some videos of our car at that track and am really looking forward to it. This will be my third race there, and I’m finally comfortable at this beast of a track.”

How do you like back-to-back races? Are they exhausting, or do they really get your momentum going? 
Nick Galante: “I love being in the car as much as possible. I think I’m like a goldfish and forget a lot if there is too much down time in between races. I get excited for this busy part of the season. Also, my wife gets to come to most of these upcoming races, and she’s a proven good luck charm.”

Mosport has predominantly high-speed corners but is very easy on brakes. How will that benefit you and your BMW? 
Nick Galante: “I’ll be a little bummed not to be able to use those great brakes, but will have a lot of fun in the corners. Our car has been very predictable and stable thanks to our great engineers.”

Historically, if you go off track at Mosport, the car is usually damaged. That usually leads to a number of cautions. How can you take advantage of that?
Devin Jones: “We just have to stay out of trouble and keep our nose clean through TCR and GS traffic. Hopefully the added cautions will help our current fuel situation with the car.”

What does Canada have that is better than its counterpart in the United States?
Nick Galante: “I love the United States, but sadly this would be a long list. I’ll keep it short and sweet. The top three: kindness, health care, and poutine.”
Devin Jones: “Milk sold in a bag?!”

Do you have a memorable “Mosport Moment” that you can share?
James Clay: “One of my favorite memories involves a much younger BimmerWorld team from over 10 years ago and a series of events in a pair of rental vans that ended with us driving to the track and through the paddock with one side door open and a very questionable windshield — and parental supervision for the rest of the weekend. I blame the whole incident on Seth Thomas.”
Tyler Cooke: “Mosport was my race first out of the U.S. and is where I met my girlfriend, so it’s definitely memorable to me.”
Nick Galante: “I guess I can share my not-so-great moment. My first time here was back in 2015 and I found out the hard way that this is one of the only road courses in the world where a downshift into Turn 1 will make things very interesting. I had a momentary lapse of judgment in the first practice and spun the car on my third lap around.” 
Devin Jones: “The best moment for me was 2015 when I got my first pole and the track record. It was unexpected and a fond memory from Mosport.”

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

BimmerWorld Racing Has High Hopes For Saturday’s CTSCC Race at The Glen

BimmerWorld Racing ready for Watkins Glen

Success breeds added confidence. Although it’s a long season, one of the BimmerWorld Racing BMWs is second in the Grand Sport (GS) point standings and the team’s Street Tuner (ST) entry is third in that championship heading into Saturday’s four-hour IMSA Continental SportsCar Challenge race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

It’s an important time for the team to try to be at the top of its game, as The Glen begins a stretch of five events in only eight weeks. Saturday’s race, which is scheduled to get the green flag at 1:55 p.m., is the fourth of 10 events on the schedule, while the fifth one is the following weekend, July 7, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.

Team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va., and his co-driver, Tyler Cooke of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., drive the Dublin, Va.-based team’s GS entry, the brand-new No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4. Nick Galante of Greenfield, Mass., and Devin Jones of Mooresville, N.C., share the team’s ST entry, the No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis).

Practice at The Glen begins with one session on Thursday at 2:05 p.m. and two more on Friday at 8 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. Qualifying will be held later Friday afternoon, with the ST cars going under the timing beacons at 12:50 p.m. and the GS field doing the same 20 minutes later.

Live video coverage and live timing and scoring of the race will be offered on imsa.tv and imsa.com, respectively. The race will also air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, July 8 at 7:30 a.m. All times are Eastern.

Watkins Glen is one of only two four-hour races on the 2018 schedule, and BimmerWorld did terrific in the first one, with the two of you finishing second in GS and the ST winning at Daytona. What will it take to do that well again at Watkins Glen?
James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“The keys to success in racing are pretty standard — bring a good car, run it with a talented crew and driver team, and stay on your toes and execute well. We had a great race at Daytona, and we have dug in to fine-tune the team for the coming stretch of three races in four weekends. If we did our homework, I think we have a great package for both this 4-Hour and the races immediately following.”

Tyler Cooke, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“It takes planning the right strategy, which Wayne Yawn does very well. We have to make sure the car is there at the end. That’s something James and I did well at Daytona. We managed our pace until the end when I got to push towards the front.”  

Watkins Glen is one of only two four-hour races on the 2018 schedule, and BimmerWorld did terrific with you guys winning the ST class at Daytona. What will it take to repeat that at Watkins Glen?
Nick Galante, Greenfield, Mass., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It’s going to be tough, but it’s something I think we are well prepared for as a team. I feel the longer the races are, the more variables get factored in. It’s important to have a solid team, and we may very well have the best out there this week.”

Devin Jones, Mooresville, N.C., driver, No. 81 Veristor/Legistics BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“The longer the race, the more you have to focus on execution, and the BimmerWorld guys always do a great job with that. A four-hour race also means more pit stops. Nick and I are going to really focus on making our driver changes flawless and making sure our stops are as quick as possible. I enjoy these four-hour races because a lot can happen, and to have one of the two longer-distance events at a track like Watkins Glen is a big plus. It’s one of my favorite tracks.”

Do you think the BimmerWorld team, or your BMW car, is especially well suited for races longer than two hours? As a driver, do you prefer two-hour or four-hour races?
James Clay: “Our BimmerWorld-built F30-platform ST cars haven’t always been smooth sailing, but in recent years with a lot of work and development from our partners at Roush Engines and Electonspeed, I think we’ve tamed the beast and we have just fantastic BMW race cars.  And, of course, the M4 GT4 comes from BMW ready for us to dial it in and race it, and it has proven to be such a stable platform. Equipment-wise, we’re good either way, but longer races play to our reliability. Additionally, we have two extremely solid driver teams this year, and the longer the races go, the more our consistently fast pace pays off.”

Tyler Cooke: “I think our car is just great at the end of a run; that’s where we start to really shine. I don’t prefer one or the other. I just love to race!”

Do you think your team, or your BMW car, is especially well suited for the longer races?

Nick Galante:With this team, I’m excited about the longer races. This team is so organized and prepared, more than I’ve seen on other teams. There’s this one guy on our team that kind of creeps me out with the level of focus and detail he brings to the team. It’s weird, but I bet that’ll help us win races!” 

Devin Jones: “I think our team and the car are suited for any situation or race distance. However, the longer the race, the more strategy and pit work come into play, which should give us an advantage this weekend. On the driving side, I personally live for these longer races, especially looking at the weather forecast for this weekend with temps in the mid-90s on race day. I work really hard on my fitness for weekends like this. I want to be ready in case I have to drive a double stint in hot and humid weather. I think the heat will play a role in driver fatigue during the course of this four-hour race.”

What is one of the most challenging parts of the Watkins Glen circuit?
Tyler Cooke: “The uphill esses look intimidating from outside the car but being in the car and threading the needle on used tires takes your breath away. Any error will be a big hit, but you have to take the chance of running that fine line and getting every little bit.” 

What do you enjoy most about the Watkins Glen fans?
Nick Galante: “If there’s anything I know about fans at Watkins Glen, it’s that they know a lot more than me! I love talking to them; you can learn a lot about the track that way. I was talking to this one guy about The Boot last year, and he has been sitting and watching that turn at every race for the past 20-plus years. The level of detail he went into surprised me.”

Is there anything competitors and fans don’t realize or don’t take into account fully about racing at Watkins Glen?
Devin Jones: “Watkins Glen is a high-speed track with little room for error, but one thing fans may not realize is drivers have to be mindful to not exceed track limits in certain corners. This is especially true in qualifying. If you go outside track limits on a fast lap, officials will disallow your time.” 

You’re coming off a race at Road America in another series last weekend. Tell us about your run in the BMW at Road America.

James Clay: “I love Road America — the track, the people and area, and it always suits a BMW well.  This was a great opportunity to run our spare car and have some fun in the process!  The car was a bit of a tractor in the spec we ran, but it was still quite capable with all the weight and higher ride height.  I’m looking forward to getting back there in a bit over a month in IMSA trim!

If you were advising a fan where to watch this race from, where would you suggest they go and why?
Tyler Cooke: “The Bus Stop or the second-to-last corner. Both are good areas to see some fast speeds and good battles.” 

Devin Jones: “The Bus Stop is an awesome place to watch; seeing the cars bouncing around, hopping curbs is a sight you don’t want to miss. Honestly, there isn’t a bad place to watch from anywhere around Watkins Glen; every corner is unique.” 

What do you think about the famous Watkins Glen Bus Stop corner?
Nick Galante: “I’ve always wanted to watch the cars coming at me as they enter the Bus Stop. I think it’s such a fascinating section of the course. Most Bus Stops have straights before and after them. This one at Watkins Glen is unique; you have a significant turn immediately after you exit. You have to be planning for the long right after the Bus Stop before you enter.”

If you could go back in time, which driver who has raced at Watkins Glen in the past that you never met would you most like to meet and/or compete against?
Tyler Cooke: “Jackie Stewart would be an awesome guy to have raced against.”

Nick Galante: “There is so much rich history at the Glen, it’s a tough choice to pick just one. The F1 drivers from the late sixties were so commendable. I can’t imagine tossing those cars around this track back then. If I had to pick just one driver it would have to be the great Scot, Jim Clark. The way he would artfully carve some tracks was truly admirable.”

Devin Jones: “I grew up watching NASCAR and seeing Jeff Gordon dominate at Watkins Glen, so I would have loved to race with him at The Glen. Although I still wish NASCAR would run the Boot!”

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.

Both BimmerWorld Racing BMWs Finish in the Top 10 at Watkins Glen

Both BimmerWorld Racing BMWs Finish in the Top 10 at Watkins Glen

Both BimmerWorld Racing turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis) race cars finished in the top 10 in the Street Tuner class Saturday at Watkins Glen International in the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race.

Californians Ari Balogh of Menlo Park and Greg Liefooghe of San Francisco came from a 17th-place starting position with their Powerflex-sponsored No. 81 to finish seventh in class in the two-hour race for the Dublin, Va.-based team.

Tyler Cooke of Matthews, N.C. qualified third in the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries car that he shares with team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. Things started off well for Cooke when he charged into second place on the opening lap, but seconds later the car’s right-front wheel fell off. Cooke slowed in Turn 6 and made it back to the pits, but the entry lost a lap before repairs were made and he could return to the fray. The duo played catch-up the rest of the way, made up the lap, and made it back up to ninth before time ran out.

Balogh got a good start, rising to 13th initially. He had advanced to ninth when the event was red-flagged around the halfway point due to lightning in the area. The team’s pit stop and driver change went well, and Liefooghe started his stint in tenth place. He moved into eighth with four minutes remaining when Spencer Pumpelly lost power in Turn 9 on lap 38. Liefooghe advanced to seventh on the following lap when he passed Connor Bloum. Both drivers managed their Continental tires well and Liefooghe’s fastest lap came late, on lap 37.

Once he had four wheels again, Cooke set his car’s fastest lap of the race on lap nine while he was 21st and last in class. He was 18th during the red-flag period and was 16th with 46:22 remaining. Clay then started his stint and got the lap back around lap 30 while in 13th. He was 11th by lap 32, and with 9:15 to go, he climbed to tenth, right behind Liefooghe. Pumpelly’s misfortune gave them both another spot, and Clay took the checkered flag in ninth place.

The race will be shown on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, July 9 from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern.

The action moves to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario next weekend. More information can be found on IMSA.com and BimmerWorldRacing.com.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was a solid day but certainly a trying day. The whole weekend leading up to this has been a little bit variable. We’ve had some red flags, weather, and we came here without a promoter test day. We also arrived with a new setup. We needed to perfect it, and we didn’t necessarily get the time, but it turned out better than I would have thought. We had good, capable cars to race with. We had a wheel fall off, and Tyler did a heck of a job recovering, keeping his head straight while driving.

“The guys diagnosed the problem, got it resolved, and got the car back on track. We had great pit strategy and got a lap back, and at the end, we had something left to race through the field. Given what we were dealing with this weekend, I couldn’t be happier, but overall we didn’t get exactly what we wanted.”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“We went from third to second at the start, which was great. The team has worked really hard this weekend, and it was a little boost to be running second.

“I had a huge vibration on the front end. The typical vibration we’ve been having all weekend was due to the brakes, so we kind of chocked it up to the brakes. Turning into the corner, the only thing that was weird to me was that going up to the esses it felt like the front end was floating, I wasn’t getting any grip, and I was starting to really save the car through there. I thought, ‘This is weird.’

“I came off the gas in the ‘Carousel,’ and the front end did a big wobble, and going into the Laces the front wheel passed me. First off, kudos to the front wheel — it just beat me. But second, it was a real bummer!

“I got the car back to the pits, and the team worked really hard, got a new wheel on, and we went back out and got our lap back. James got up to ninth. So to come away with a ninth after all that wasn’t bad. I mean, what a rainstorm… everything that could have happened in that race happened.

“Thanks to all the fans who stuck it out there through the rain. That’s what you call dedication. We can’t be here without them. Thanks also to our sponsors; without them, we wouldn’t be here either. Thanks to the team. Mosport is in a week; I’m looking forward to it.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
“We were fighting a little bit of a turbo issue the whole weekend. The car was fast but it was very specific to drive so it took me a few laps to get used to it. In this series, if you breathe through a couple laps, you’re going backward. So I went backward, settled, and after that, the car was really, really good. Hats off to the guys. I think we could have done better if I wouldn’t have lost so much right at the start.

“It’s hard to race like this, but the car was clearly fast. I wish it could have been a little better, but I think it’s good for going into Mosport; the car is in one piece, and I think we made some progress on the chassis.”

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 Ready for Busy Summer Schedule Starting with Watkins Glen Saturday, July 1

BimmerWorld-Racing-Ready-for-Busy-Summer-Schedule-Starting-with-Watkins-Glen-Saturday,-July-1

The old Nat King Cole song that speaks of “those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” had one thing wrong where BimmerWorld Racing is concerned. Although the summer may have just begun, and it may bring hazy skies and crazy on-track action, it’s hardly lazy for the Dublin, Va.-based team and its fellow competitors in the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge (ICTSC) series. Beginning with a two-hour race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. on Saturday, July 1, the team will field two turbocharged BMW 328i (F30 chassis) cars in four ICTSC races over six weeks.

That’s not all team owner James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. and his associates have on their plates, either. Clay just returned from Germany where he participated in the team’s first running of the Nürburgring 24-hour race in late May, and he just finished up the team’s first attempt at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado.

“Both have been amazing experiences for me personally as well as for our team,” Clay said. “I’ve definitely stepped outside my normal box this year, and I’m sure the experiences will expand our horizons as a business and my skill set as a driver. It’s been an insanely busy spring, and I’m looking forward to this coming stretch of IMSA races where things get back to normal!

“Our BimmerWorld team has fantastic depth, and I have a good group of managers, engineers, and partners all driving the team forward,” he added. “I’ve been focused on an array of other activities, but I stay involved in the race business, and the core guys of this team keep doing their part to ensure we’re well-prepared for this coming stretch of races.

“We have solid cars this year and even with some issues, we’re at the front on any given weekend. We just need to string some of those together in the coming cluster of races to move the cars to the top of the season standings. We have good tracks coming for our cars, and I think we’re all more optimistic than ever.”

One thing is certain — the BimmerWorld drivers love to compete at Watkins Glen.

The Continental Tire 120 at The Glen has attracted 15 Grand Sport (GS) entries and 21 entries in the class that BimmerWorld competes in, Street Tuner (ST).

There are two practice sessions scheduled for 2:55 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. on Friday. ST qualifying is at 1:35 p.m. and GS qualifying is at 1:50 p.m. on Friday. Saturday’s schedule shows the open-grid fan walk at 1:20 p.m., and the two-hour race starting at 2:25 p.m. All times are Eastern.

Live video streaming and live timing and scoring will be available on imsa.com and imsa.tv. The television broadcast will be on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, July 9 from 10 a.m. to noon Eastern.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
Where does Watkins Glen stand on your list of tracks?

“I love Watkins for the scenic views from the top of the hill. I can clearly remember the view going into Turn 1 the first time I raced this track. It’s fast and flowing, with enough technical components to make it a fun challenge.”

Is there any attraction, restaurant or hotel in the area that you’re looking forward to re-visiting?
“If the weather is nice, I’ll be looking for a hike in the falls, followed by a trip to Great Escapes for ice cream!”

Tyler Cooke, Matthews, N.C., driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
The schedule is intense now, with four races in six weeks. How have you been preparing for this?

“Practicing on the simulator, getting ready for the tracks we are going to, and doing as much endurance training as possible.”

What will be the keys to doing well here, particularly with your BMW?
“How we keep the tires under us and stretching the fuel as far as possible are the keys points to manage at The Glen. The guys did a great stop at COTA and now at Watkins, we can possibly capitalize on it. It’s a good track for us.”

What other track that you’ve raced on is most like Watkins Glen?
“It’s not easy to compare because it has its own features. The high speed of a Road America and Road Atlanta, the bus stop of Daytona, and the slow speed of VIR come to mind.”

Where does Watkins Glen stand on your list of tracks?
“Watkins Glen is in my top five. It’s a track that always has good racing and it’s a technical track as well. They’re many different corners that really make the track challenging.”

What are your thoughts on racing at such a historical circuit like Watkins Glen? How does it feel to walk in the shoes of some of the sport’s most famous drivers?
“You can really feel the history of this place watching videos of old famous cars driven by the heroes of racing, driving the same corners we drive today. Of course, we have more safety measures today, but not much else has changed.”

Is there any attraction, restaurant or hotel in the area that you’re looking forward to re-visiting?
“Hiking the Falls is always something I look forward to and eating at Jerlando’s Italian in Watkins Glen.”

Greg Liefooghe, San Francisco, driver, No. 81 Powerflex BMW 328i (F30 chassis), which he shares with Ari Balogh of Menlo Park, Calif.:
The schedule is intense now, with four races in six weeks. How have you been preparing for this?

“I’ve been lucky enough to race in World Challenge as well this season, and there’s no better preparation for a driver than to keep racing!”

What will be the keys to doing well here, particularly with your BMW?
“Our BMW should be good around Watkins. There are a lot of elevation changes and especially a lot of corner exits that are uphill, which means the torque from our turbos will help coming out of those specific corners.”

What other track that you’ve raced on is most like Watkins Glen?
“There really is no comparison to the flowing nature of Watkins Glen. It’s in a league of its own. Since the repaving, the track has major grip. The only track that comes close in that aspect is VIR.”

Where does Watkins Glen stand on your list of tracks?
“Watkins Glen is in my top five. The course has a flow that is just awesome.”

Is there any attraction, restaurant or hotel in the area that you’re looking forward to re-visiting?
“The two main attractions around Watkins Glen are the Seneca Lodge and the Harbor Hotel, without forgetting the Panera Bread in Elmira, which is Tyler’s favorite.”

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

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

BimmerWorld Awarded Two Top Ten Finishes in Thrilling Watkins Glen Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Race

BimmerWorld Awarded Two Top Ten Finishes in Thrilling Watkins Glen  Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Race

Surviving a first-lap melee and hard charging drivers were key components to BimmerWorld Racing’s two Top Ten finishes in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Watkins Glen International today.

Round 4 of the 2016 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge boasted a field of nine Grand Sport (GS) and 27 Street Tuner (ST) class entries on a gorgeous summer day in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York. However, a storm of cars collided on the first lap and sent numerous cars to the pits for repairs.

Starting driver Tyler Cooke, who was competing with a broken wrist, in the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i avoided the early fracas but had a minor contact with a Porsche Cayman, yet still drove to the lead. After a restart, traffic clustered together and the challenge was on to keep the tires at optimum capability while battling for position. James Clay was able to bring the BMW home in sixth place, an impressive finish that saw Porsche Caymans dominate four of the top five position at the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course.

Jerry Kauffman and Kyle Tilley, drivers of the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i, saw their best finish of the 2016 season when they crossed the finish line in 10th position in the two-hour and 30-minute race. A strong performing F30 car and heads up driving by both racers permitted the duo a strong performance in a challenging race for many competitors.

James Clay, Team Owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was not the way you want to start a race where you have back to backs [races}. That was crazy, but it worked out well enough for us. We kept our noses clean on the BMW front, and we made it through the mess. We backed up a little in doing so, but we found our way to the front and hung out there. Before the restart, we were cruising for a really good finish. When things got bunched back up we worked the tires pretty hard to maintain and gain the positions that we had, and it took them too long to warm back up. It got a little bit rushed there at the end, and we couldn’t fend off some of the other guys. Two top tens and a perfectly clean car, so I’ll take that! I feel so bad about the Porsche guys. One got caught up in the incident at the beginning and another one just in a lapped traffic deal. That’s racing, but that’s not the way you want to start out. One [car] is pretty banged up, but we’ll get it together and all be ready for the next race.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“The first lap was quite interesting with the crash that happened right in front of me. I can’t really say what happened. It just looked like a whole bunch of cars trying to go into a two-wide zone. So, I was happy we were saved from that, but then we had contact going into Turn Ten. That was very unfortunate for both me and the No. 22, but that happens in racing. I’m happy I was able to race with a broken wrist. I’m happy I was able to get to the lead and hand over the car to James in the lead. James did a great job, and we can’t complain with a sixth place finish because that’s good for points, and we can’t wait to go to Canada next weekend and see what happens.”

Kyle Tilley, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was Jerry’s and my highest place finish in the Continental Tire Series. The balance of the car went away from us slightly on a full fuel load, but it eventually came back to us at the end. We need to have a look at better ways around that, but overall it was a very successful race weekend and the car is still in one piece. Jerry did a great job and missed all the carnage at the start, and he drove back up and was running sixth or seventh when he handed the car over to me, which was a great job.”

Jerry Kaufman, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“The start of the race was interesting. I ended up starting on the right side of the track and one of the cars a few rows in front of me checked up and must have missed a shift or something. I couldn’t pass him before the start/finish so the whole column on the left side went past and, per the rules, you’re not allowed to pass anyone in front of you, so I dropped back a few spots. I saw the carnage happening in front going up the esses and managed to avoid that, and at the restart, from pretty far back, I managed to make it thru a lot of traffic. The car was really well hooked up. As the fuel load dropped the car kept getting faster and faster. It was actually a shame to come in when we did because the car kept getting faster. I know Kyle had kind of a rough start at the end because he had to go out on a full fuel load with fresh tires with no heat in them and all that extra weight, so he battled a car that I didn’t have to. It was kind of a shame we had to come in as early as we did, but we didn’t want to get caught out on a yellow and get put a lap down. It was still a good finish. It was pretty clear the {Porsche] Caymans had a performance advantage at this track. I’ll take a Top Ten any day.”

The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis on Fox Sports 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday, July 10.

The next event, Round 5, is next week, July 8-10, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (Mosport) in Bowmanville, Ontario.

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 Prepared for Return to Watkins Glen

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The last IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race was nearly two months ago, and the BimmerWorld Racing team has used the break wisely to focus on development work, implementation of previous development, and testing of its turbocharged BMW 328i race cars. Beginning with Saturday’s Continental Tire 150 at Watkins Glen International, the series starts a stretch of four races in six weeks when teams will be working hard purely to keep cars repaired and on track, but BimmerWorld starts this summer’s long run well prepared.

The team has a broad foundation due to the mass of its race shop and parts business headquartered in Dublin, VA, making it well suited to tackle two immediate goals: improving its engine package’s reliability, and heat control for these hot summer events.

The team tested both the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i entry of James Clay and Tyler Cooke and the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i of Jerry Kaufman and Kyle Tilley during the break. It hopes that testing will pay off at the end of Saturday’s 2-hour-and-30-minute race on the newly repaved, 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course in Watkins Glen, NY.

James Clay, team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
What will be the strengths of the BMW 328i at the Glen?
“Watkins Glen has always been a good BMW track. We have one of the heavier cars in the series, but the faster, sweeping turns at Watkins Glen don’t make that as much of a disadvantage as it is at other tracks. The brake package gets a workout at Watkins Glen as well, both to make a good lap and in some critical areas for passing, and we have been at the front of the field in braking capability so far this year.”

Do any of the drivers have ties to the region? Will any of them be racing at The Glen for the first time?
“All of our drivers have been there before, but certainly for our BMW squad there is more Northeast experience, which will be important given the abbreviated schedule without a test day.”

Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
How did you spend the time off since the last race?
“I spent my time coaching guys in their race cars at places like Mid-Ohio, Lime Rock, and New Jersey. I spent a couple of weeks with my girlfriend and her family as well as worked at Monticello Motor Club and Ford as an instructor. It’s been a busy couple of months, but I’m ready to be back in the seat.”

How do you prepare for three races nearly in a row in July?
“Lots of mental training. Keeping yourself mentally and physically fit. James and I make a good pair where we keep each other on our game on and off the track.”

What will be the strengths of the BMW 328i at The Glen?
“The long run of the car. We are OK on power but rarely see the top of the charts, but we always have a great handling car, and that’s where we show our strengths.”

You and James are tied for seventh in the driver point standings with some success this season right now. What is the focus for the next few races to move up?
“Consistent runs. Two top fives have put us there. Not taking a chance for a second or first place that would wind up ending our race. Third-place points are better than no points. Being consistent and up front will help our season.”

Kyle Tilley, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
How have you been preparing Jerry for a challenging track like Watkins Glen?
“Jerry and I competed in a lower-level endurance race with two cars earlier in the year. That gave us four days of track time, and we had a combination of wet and dry running, so I think we are pretty well prepared. Watkins Glen is Jerry’s home track and one that he knows very well. I am expecting him to be fast! No pressure, though.”

How do you like the Watkins Glen circuit, and what’s your favorite part?
“I don’t have that many laps around the track still; however, I love the Carousel onwards, where the elevation starts to come into play.”

How do you anticipate the BMWs to stack up against some of the other ST class competition at The Glen?
“Our BimmerWorld BMWs should be competitive. We recently had a successful two-day test at VIR, so I’m hoping that translates into a successful weekend at the Glen! Obviously, the Porsches and Mazdas are always going to be fierce competition.”

How do you think the newly repaved surface will affect the race?
“With regard to the new surface, I think we will see a drop in lap times from previous years; other than that it will be the usual close ST-class racing!”

Jerry Kaufman, driver, No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
You have had a long break since the last race. How do you stay focused and tuned between races when you have a break like this?
“The two-month break really doesn’t feel very long because of all the driving I do during that time. I’ve been on track sorting out new suspensions in two BMW club-racing cars. It certainly isn’t the same pressure or atmosphere, but I drive them with the same focus and passion.”

You and Kyle did some testing during the break with your turbo BMW. How did it go? What are the main differences with this car?
“The #81 has a lot of characteristics that are unique in a race car. The long wheelbase and street-based power steering makes it more difficult to feel the limit. We made some setup changes to help the car communicate better to the driver, and we were very pleased with the outcome.”

You have quite a bit of driving experience at Watkins Glen? Share some of your thoughts about the circuit.
“Watkins Glen is an amazing place. It is a great facility and has always been my favorite track. I’ve had great success at The Glen while participating in BMW CCA club racing, and it’s a place that I always look forward to driving. This year is even more special because they repaved the surface and expanded the paved runoff to take what is already a very fast track and make it even faster.”

Jason Marks, crew chief, BimmerWorld:
How do you think the newly repaved surface will affect the race?
“I am really excited heading into The Glen and Mosport. I think as a team we are in the best shape that we have been all season. The crew has worked incredibly hard in the break. They have worked out some bugs and issues and done quite a bit of testing. We’ve religiously hit pit-practice sessions two days a week, and everything is looking good. As far as the newly repaved surface, I don’t put much concern into that. All the cars will be on the same circuit so it really shouldn’t play out too much as an advantage/disadvantage. It will likely cost our engineers a few hours of sleep trying to tune the cars to the nuances, though.”

Last race’s race was affected by rain. Are you hoping for a wet or a dry race, and why?
“As far as rain, I have to say I am not a fan. From a competition standpoint, once again everyone ends up racing in the same conditions, and I am confident in our drivers in the wet or dry, but from a logistics standpoint, a dry week will likely let us get to Canada in better shape all around.”

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 Leaves Watkins Glen Focused on Mosport

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With little to report that could be described as positive, team owner/driver James Clay says his staff of BMW aftermarket and tuning specialists at BimmerWorld have already shifted their focus to fighting for a win in Canada after wet and unpredictable weekend at Watkins Glen with their turbocharged BMW F30s.

“We came into Watkins with high hopes for the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW and the sister No. 81 car after last year’s performance, and especially after the trend we are currently on with these awesome F30 platform BMWs,” he said. “Unfortunately the rain wreaked havoc on our plans and outlook, and I don’t think anyone is happy with the performance. The next race in Canada at Mosport is another solid track for us and I look forward to getting that first win for this new BMW – hopefully we can put it all together there.”

An incident at the start of the race involving Clay’s teammate in the OPTIMA Batteries car saw the No. 84 BMW trigger a track-wide caution period moments after the 2.5-hour contest began. Despite an impressive sixth-place qualifying position, the No. 84’s day was done as soon as it started.

Once the action resumed, Andrie Hartanto showed his wet weather prowess in the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW F30 and battled towards the front after starting fifth in class. Visibility issues would eventually hinder his teammate Tyler Cooke in the run to the checkered flag, and he managed to hold on for an unsatisfying 14-place finish.

“The rain always brings its challenges,” said Hartanto. “Watkins Glen, in particular, is massively challenging due to the amount of mixed surfaces you drive across. When you incorporate some serious rain into the mix, those grip differences demand that you stay on top of your game.

“This was the first race where we started near the front, so we had high hopes. I’ve always performed well in the rain, so in spite of how intense the conditions were, I felt my stint went really well. This marks two solid performances in a row for Tyler and me, and I’m hopeful we can continue this into Mosport.”

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 on the Hunt for Victory at New York’s Watkins Glen Circuit

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Keeping busy during the most recent hiatus between Continental Tire Series events hasn’t been a problem for the BMW tuning and aftermarket specialists at BimmerWorld. With two months to fill between the race in Monterey, CA. and this weekend’s contest at Watkins Glen in New York, team owner/driver James Clay says his veteran crew of technicians and engineers has focused on improved durability for the turbocharged engine found in their BMW F30 chassis.

“We are always testing and improving cars, and the F30 platform, being such a departure from the traditional BMW Inline-6 that we have raced for years, demands a lot of development,” he noted. “We have taken the time to develop and implement some subtle changes that will increase the overall reliability of the package as we settle into the hot summer months. This is a fantastic engine, but heat is our enemy, and it certainly won’t be as cool as the Monterey race this summer.”

BimmerWorld newcomer Andrie Hartanto has impressed at every round he’s contested in the No. 81 BMW he shared with Tyler Cooke, and like all of the earlier events on the calendar, he’ll race at Watkins Glen in the F30 chassis for the first time.

“There have been a lot of firsts for me this season!” he said with his trademark smile. “Fortunately for me, the entire BimmerWorld team—and especially my co-driver Tyler—have been a tremendous help in getting me up to speed quickly, which I’m grateful for. That said, Watkins Glen happens to be a track that I’ve driven before, albeit 12 years ago. I recently attended a Chin Motorsports event at The Glen to get reacquainted and I’m anxious to drive the No. 81 there as it’s a great track. We had a strong finish at Laguna and I think we’re poised to improve upon that at Watkins.”

Now in his second year on the pro racing trail with BimmerWorld, Jason Briedis, who shares the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries-sponsored BMW 328i with Clay, reflected on how far he’s come since joining the Continental Tire Series in 2014.

“BimmerWorld does a great job making me feel comfortable within the team,” he said. “Now that I am familiar with the tracks and the other competitors, I can focus purely on extracting the best out of both my driving, and the car. So far this year, we have qualified in the top 10 at every track, and run in the top 5 at every race. For the next few events, personally I will be looking to continue starting at or near the front, and handing the car over to James in a spot where we can challenge for podiums and the first BMW F30 win in North America.”

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 Driver Development Program, New F30 Chassis Shine At Watkins Glen

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With little to show for BimmerWorld’s extra effort at IMSA’s most recent Continental Tire Series round held at the Watkins Glen International road course, the team is left to rue a fifth consecutive event where a rule imbalance has kept the BMW brand, teams campaigning BMWs and their various types of BMW chassis from getting near Victory Lane.

The Virginia-based BMW aftermarket and tuning experts have asserted themselves as regular contenders for the Street Tuner Championship, but have spent 2014 persevering through a season where brands other than BMW have enjoyed feature status. The last five races have seen Mazda’s MX-5 score three straight wins followed by the Honda Civic Si earning the last two, including Watkins Glen, leading BimmerWorld team owner/driver James Clay to bide his time until other ST brands receive some of the spotlight.

“I wish I didn’t sound like a broken record this year, but we have now gone through another round where the BMWs just don’t have the pace to compete,” he said. “IMSA noticed the deficiency and made a small adjustment, but it just wasn’t enough to make a difference. We again scored Championship points, and our cars are consistently performing at the top of the marque, but unless we can be on par to win races, we will fall short even on the Championship at the end of the year.”

Without the speed to win—at least until more meaningful rules adjustments are made, BimmerWorld has, as Clay noted, relied on overall consistency, supreme driving, and creative race strategy to minimize the damage.

As unlikely as it may seem, the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i tandem of Greg Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke have used finishes of second, seventh, fifth, ninth, eighth, and 12th last weekend to earn the lead in the ST Drivers’ and Teams’ Championship. Their rivals–many who have scored multiple wins this year, have often traded a speed advantage for consistent results, but at the current rate, the No. 81 will be easily overtaken in the standings during the final six races of the year.

Departing Watkins Glen, Clay embraced the two key positives that stood out last weekend, beginning with the rapid rise of BimmerWorld Development Driver Eric Zimmermann. Joining respected young pro Corey Fergus in the No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW 328i at the previous round in Kansas, Zimmermann used all of his amateur training under the BimmerWorld banner to record an impressive drive at Watkins Glen, which marked only his second outing in a pro racing series.

“I am proud of Eric’s hard work and his success – he has earned it,” Clay added. “I knew he was the right guy for the seat when we changed Corey’s co-driver mid-season, and he proved it at Watkins. I have a group of customers that reach out to us more often, not only for parts but also for car guidance and even driving advice, and end up becoming a part of the BimmerWorld family like Eric. It is just really great to see him continue to succeed.”

Using track experience gained as an amateur, Zimmermann combined his familiarity with Watkins and input from BimmerWorld’s season driver corps to find a competitive groove in the No. 80.

“Watkins Glen was a fantastic experience,” he said. “Having raced at the track once before was very helpful, but the biggest advantage gained was borne of getting more seat time in the No. 80. Corey and our other teammates continued to impress upon me the need to learn the skill of carrying momentum through the corners and that concept really clicked during qualifying. I was thrilled and, frankly, a little surprised at the time I was able to post. Once I’d put up a respectable qualifying time, I knew that I’d be in a much racier environment come race time and that one good lap wasn’t going to accomplish what Corey and I had set out to do. Fortunately, I was able to keep the pace and I found it to be a lot of fun driving more competitively and in typical racing traffic.”

Watkins also saw BimmerWorld’s new in-house developed turbocharged BMW F30 chassis post one of its most competitive runs. Compared to BimmerWorld’s highly developed, race-winning E90-based 328i platform, the F30 328i piloted by Clay and teammate Jason Briedis has only a half-season of on-track activity under its belt, making the No. 84’s rapid progress a welcome sign for BimmerWorld customers anticipating race-proven aftermarket components.

A simple mechanical issue kept the No. 84 car from a better result in the end, but as Clay explains, each lessons learned in the Street Tuner class will benefit BimmerWorld’s clientele.

“This was a fantastic weekend for our F30 328i, performing at a level to reach the top of the charts in every session,” he said. “Then in the race, we lost a differential cooler and had to come in for repairs to prevent bigger problems and that took some time. It is a shame that with all the new technology performing flawlessly, a mundane part took Jason and I out of the running for what I feel was a podium finish. The F30s rate of development is happening quickly, and we continue to work through smaller and smaller items. That, by itself, is very encouraging.”

UP NEXT FOR BIMMERWORLD: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, July 11-13

FOLLOW: BimmerWorld at www.BimmerWorldRacing.com

WATKINS GLEN RESULTS:

No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), Corey Fergus & Eric Zimmermann: Qualified P21, Finished P13

No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), Greg Liefooghe & Tyler Cooke: Qualified P16, finished P12

No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), Seth Thomas & Dan Rogers: Qualified P23, Finished P16

No. 84 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30), James Clay & Jason Briedis: Qualified P19, Finished P28

BimmerWorld On A Hunt In Watkins Glen

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The BMW experts at BimmerWorld Racing have persevered through a string of tough races where the opposition in IMSA’s Continental Tire Series Street Tuner division have held the upper hand, yet with this weekend’s race at the rolling, high-speed Watkins Glen circuit in upstate New York, the sports car veterans are looking to exploit the enhanced cornering and braking capabilities of their BMW 328is.

“Watkins has historically been one of those ‘BMW tracks’ for us,” said team owner/driver James Clay. “The long sweeping turns are well-suited for our heavier cars and the hard braking zones play to the strengths of our Performance Friction brake package. We received a small weight break before this event which is critical as it is less we have to lug up the hill leading into the fastest straight. I still think there is a little too much weight difference versus the lightest cars in the field, but I think we are bringing big guns to an almost fair fight this weekend, and I will happily take that.”

Despite the rules-based disadvantage BimmerWorld has encountered, a combination of excellent driving, phenomenal race strategy and pit stops, and amazing consistency has placed the E90-based No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i piloted by Greg Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke first in the Championship standings. BimmerWorld also holds first in the ST Teams Championship.

Liefooghe and Cooke have been locked out of Victory Lane so far this year, making their point-leading accomplishment even more impressive, but with more than half of the Championship left to go, the team isn’t expecting an easy run to the season finale in October.

Watkins Glen presents another opportunity for BimmerWorld to log miles and learn more about the new turbocharged F30-based BMW 328i is has been developing on the racetrack this year. As the first pro-level F30 competing in North America, the tuning and aftermarket specialists at BimmerWorld are racing the F30 while building a crucial database of performance specs and parts that will benefit their customers.

“We have had some up and down finishes with the F30, but we are actively learning every step of the way and that’s just part of the process with a brand-new car,” said Clay, who shares the No. 84 F30 with co-driver Jason Briedis. “The last race at Kansas showed a new powerplant weakness which we have since addressed and I think Watkins Glen should be good for us.”

Corey Fergus, who kicked off a new driving partnership with Eric Zimmermann at Kansas in the No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW 328i, says he expects the popular 4-door sedan will offer up a stronger fight this weekend.

“Watkins Glen is one of my favorite tracks,” said Fergus. “It’s very technical and has some rhythm sections that are challenging. I was on pole there last year so I’m hoping we have a good chance at a quality finish. It’s a little bit of a horsepower track with the uphill straight leading into the bus-stop so you would expect that the cars with more top end and torque will do well there. But there are also some sections where the driver can make a difference. Those important sections to get right will be the bus-stop, the laces of the boot, the toe of the boot, and coming out of the boot.

“The BMW won’t be the fastest car in a straight line or run the fastest lap time, but hopefully we can stay consistent through the race when others experience fall off, capitalize on other people’s mistakes, and be there at the end to secure a good finish.”

UP NEXT: Practice for the Continental Tire 150 At The Glen begins on Thursday, June 26, with the race following on Saturday, June 28.

FOLLOW: Keep track of BimmerWorld’s progress by visiting www.BimmerWorldRacing.com

WATKINS GLEN ROSTER:

No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90): Corey Fergus, Eric Zimmermann

No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90): Tyler Cooke, Greg Liefooghe

No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90): Dan Rogers, Seth Thomas

No. 84 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30): Jason Briedis, James Clay

BimmerWorld Rolls With The Punches At Watkins Glen

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BimmerWorld Racing went into last weekend’s GRAND-Am Continental Tire Series race at the historic Watkins Glen road course with high expectations, but after one of the wildest and most disjointed events in series history, the BMW experts were lucky to leave New York with all three cars intact.

A massive downpour fell shortly after the start of the race, followed by a dry period during the middle portion of the 2.5-hour event, which closed with another downpour that had cars skating off the track at speeds below 20 mph.

In between the rivers of water running across the track and extended caution periods to collect damaged cars, oddly-timed pit openings led to multiple instances where the entire 57-car field (rather than the usual procedure where the GS cars pit, followed by the ST field pitting one lap later), a traffic jam ensued in the shared pit spaces.

The parking lot of GS and ST cars caused many entries—including the trio of BimmerWorld BMW 328is—to lose numerous positions while simply waiting for room to pull in for service.

By the time the checkered flag waved, BimmerWorld’s fleet of cars had recovered to take 11th, 13th and 15th in ST, leaving team owner/driver James Clay to shake his head at the unpredictable race that unfolded.

“Weather was constantly changing and we were prepared to deal with it, but with almost 60 cars doing the same thing–and the officials making a bunch of unexpected choices, it was more of a luck-of-the-draw result than anything else,” he said.

“There was green racing in the middle, but if you were in the right place at the right time, and happened to have the pits open and could get in cleanly, you had an advantage. Our BimmerWorld crew did an amazing job to adapt to all the things that were thrown at them, and our drivers did an excellent job too, but you can’t really put the results down to the on-track racing that usually determines the finishing order. It was a strange day for everyone.”

The first car home from BimmerWorld’s trio of BMWs was the No. 81 driven by Gregory Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke. Cooke, a second-year pilot in the Continental Tire Series, put in another excellent drive, securing 11th despite the hurdles.

“It was a pretty intense event, and you had to exercise a lot of patience and really work within the limits of the grip that was available,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that much standing water on a racetrack before, but we dealt with it as best as possible. The BimmerWorld crew was outstanding and all we can do now is move on to the next race and hope for something more normal.”

The No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i driven by Seth Thomas and Dan Rogers followed the No. 80 home in 13th, and both cars, as Rogers describes, were on the right tires to finish the race but did not have enough time to capitalize on it.

“During my stint, we started dry and then went to wet conditions, which suits us well,” he said.  “The No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® car handled well, and we moved up a number of spots, then Seth got in the car an hour into the race, and continued moving toward the front.  Towards the end of the race, the crew made a great call to bring Seth in and switch to wet tires as it started to rain.  We came out fueled, with the right tires, and good to go to the end.  We were ready to stand on the podium!

“Unfortunately, the outcome of the race was affected by an uncharacteristically long yellow that left only one green lap at the end of the race.  Rather than Seth being able to race to the front in a 15-minute green session on wet tires, we had to settle for a 13th place finish during a one-lap shootout.  Sometimes great pit calls work, and sometimes they don’t.  One thing’s for sure, though: the BimmerWorld crew makes more than their share of great decisions in the pits to put us in a position to win.”

Clay, who stepped in to drive the No. 80 entry with Greg Strelzoff when Strelzoff’s teammate Connor Bloum injured his leg prior to the event, had the opposite problem. Stuck on dry tires as the rain fell to close the race, he performed a number of small miracles to keep the BimmerWorld BMW on the tarmac to claim 15th.

“I am glad I was able to get in the car to work with Greg, and personally I enjoyed being back in the pro cars, but certainly I am hoping Connor’s leg heals quickly and we are able to get him back in the car as soon as possible,” he said.

“While I always love driving one of the BimmerWorld cars, this weekend dealt us very challenging track conditions to contend with.  I knew we would be terrifically fast in the rain and I was excited to have the opportunity of a wet race, but unfortunately we never got much of a chance to race in the wet conditions or at an opportune time. We’re headed to race at Indianapolis next, a place where we won last year, and hope things go a little more according to plan than they did at Watkins.”

Follow BimmerWorld’s progress as they prepare for Indy at www.BimmerworldRacing.com , and tune in to watch the Watkins Glen round on SPEED at 4 p.m. ET on July 7th.

BimmerWorld on the Prowl for Points at Watkins Glen

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The BimmerWorld Racing team heads to upstate New York this weekend with its usual high expectations for its three-car GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series team, but with the 2013 season now entering its second phase, big picture items are moving to the forefront at each race.

Coming off its most challenging event of the year at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the Virginia-based BMW tuning and aftermarket specialists want nothing more than to bank solid points and run at the front of the packed Street Tuner division—a ‘reset’ of sorts as the second half of the championship kicks into high gear.

“Certainly Watkins Glen is more the type of track that suits our car, especially with the current weight penalty we have to lug around,” said team owner/driver James Clay, referring to the fast and sprawling Watkins Glen road course.

“The flowing corners connect longer straights that allow us to reach our legs, both of which offset the tight corner performance and torque off the corner of the FWD and turbo cars.  We have done well in New York historically and I am hoping for the same this year.”

Clay, a race-winning driver in the Street Tuner class, has spent the season concentrating on managing the team and, in concert with his 2012 teammate John Capestro-Dubets (JCD), has been overseeing development of the brand-new BMW 3 Series (F30 chassis) BimmerWorld has in the pipeline for ST.

But with driver Connor Bloum, co-driver of the No. 80 BimmerWorld entry, suffering a leg injury between rounds, Clay will step into the cockpit with Bloum’s teammate, Greg Strelzoff, for the Watkins round.

“The new F30 that BimmerWorld is developing for JCD and I to drive is due to come out this summer and both of us are excited to be in the new machine,” said Clay. “I am not wild about the circumstances that find me in a car at Watkins, but I look forward to being back in the No. 80 and driving with Greg for this event.  It is unfortunate to not have Connor with us this weekend, but we are hoping for a speedy recovery that will have him back for the next round in Indy.”

Tyler Cooke, who shares the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i with Gregory Liefooghe, is looking to move up in the standings after Watkins Glen, but says that pure aggression alone won’t get the job done.

“I think it will take a little bit of both aggressiveness and being conservative, because both can be awarding,” he said. “Watkins is very fast, so you can be aggressive, but if you cross that line it can be very costly to damaging the car. Being conservative will make sure it’s a good points day, but you won’t always earn the finish you could have gotten if you’d pushed harder. If you can find the middle of both, you will have a good race.”

Seth Thomas, who pilots the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i with Dan Rogers, has been in the tin-top wars for years and knows plenty about championship pursuits. He’s also looking to the Watkins race to secure more points, but isn’t quite ready to play things conservatively.

“With six races still left on the schedule, there is a lot of time to think championships,” he explained. “We still have a shot at the drivers’ championship but in order to make this happen we need to push.  So at Watkins, we will be pushing hard to close the points gap to the cars in front of us.  This will make us more aggressive than if we were the points leaders.

“Watkins is a great track for us to drive aggressively and with the long green flag runs we have had the past few races I feel we will be gaining points. So from here until we are in the points lead we will be pushing, being as aggressive as we can to bring home solid points for No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW entry.”

Follow all the action with the BimmerWorld Racing team this weekend from Watkins Glen at www.BimmerworldRacing.com.

BimmerWorld Closes 3-Race Run With Another Podium, Pair Of Top 10s At Watkins Glen

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Coming off its third GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series race in a span of four weeks, the BMW experts at BimmerWorld closed the arduous string of events in impressive fashion at New York’s storied Watkins Glen circuit.

On the face of it, the numbers look good: another podium for team owner/driver James Clay and co-driver John Capestro-Dubets in the No. 80, an eighth-place finish for Gregory Liefooghe and David Levine in the No. 81 and a 15th-place result for Seth Thomas and Dan Rogers in the No. 82, but it doesn’t tell the full story of BimmerWorld’s achievement.

Utilizing the renowned BMW E90 platform, BimmerWorld’s trio of 328is rank among the most heavily restricted cars in GRAND-AM’s Street Tuner class, yet despite the massive amount of weight the cars carry, and the air restrictors that limit the power from the BMW’s six-cylinder engines, Clay’s team has continued to deliver performances that should be unattainable.

With their BMWs sanctioned to rather extreme levels, BimmerWorld’s focus for 2012 has been to perfect every other area within the program in an effort to compensate for the performance the rules have taken away. Drawing from an exceptional amount of talent from its crew and drivers, the Watkins Glen race showcased BimmerWorld’s formula of using speed, consistency and flawless execution to overcome most of the advantages held by the competition.

“The BimmerWorld guys are rock-solid, and even if we aren’t as gifted as other models in the regulations currently, our whole team has managed to make a lot happen with willpower alone,” said Clay. “The majority of our crew is full-time in the shop which I think is a big plus for our team when we have the crazy workload of a three-race stretch like the one we just completed. But beyond the standard prep work, these guys have been putting in long days at the track also to make sure everything is as perfect as it can be when we hit the track. Combine that with a driving staff that has put their heads down to make results happen, and with each car visiting the podium this year, I feel like we are maximizing what we have been given.”

After a humbling start to the season, Clay and Capestro-Dubets turned their fortunes around during June’s three-race run, taking a fifth at Mid-Ohio, a third at Elkhart Lake and another third last weekend.

“John and I are really starting to click as teammates,” Clay continued. “We had our car dialed in and ready to race very early in the weekend, leaving us time to test some other setups and practice the elements that are critical in the race. I am very happy with the progress we have made during the year as a team, and John is driving like a superstar which is helping the results.”

With BimmerWorld’s total team coaching process at his disposal, Capestro-Dubets has made great strides during his sophomore season in ST, and credits the support he’s received for his continual development as a pro driver.

“So much has changed since 2011 for me,” he said. “Greg and I watch last year’s in-car footage before each race, and the difference is shocking to me. James has really taken his time with me to settle me down and then build my confidence by giving me tools to refine myself. In 2011, I was still trying to find my place and make somewhat of a name for myself. This year, I have the confidence and the guidance, and I think some good results are now showing all the hard work that goes into making it in this sport. I really have to thank everyone involved with this race program for taking their time with me and developing me into the driver I am so far.”

As the leader of the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW, Liefooghe receives plenty of accolades for his driving and coaching talents, and paired with ST rookie Levine, the two have formed one of the most effective driving combos in the series. In addition to their win at Round 2 this year, the intra-team highlights continue to grow and shift towards Levine as he makes the transition from being the new kid on the block to a seriously talented competitor alongside Liefooghe.

Plenty can be said about Levine’s drive at Watkins Glen, but the most impressive stat centers on the 27 positions he and Liefooghe managed to earn on their way to an eighth-place finish.

“I feel that I have progressed a lot since the pre-season test at Daytona,” said Levine. “I’ve really learned a lot from working with Greg in a short amount of time. Now that I have been in the car for several races, I feel that I am comfortable in the car which allows me to push myself and the car to the limit. My progression owes many thanks to Greg for his coaching this season. I’m looking forward to closing out the season in a strong way.”

If the No. 80 was the lightning rod for bad luck early in the year, the No. 82 CRC BRAKLEEN® BMW 328i took its place recently. After dealing with mechanical gremlins and a rough-and-tumble race, Thomas and Rogers fought back to recover 14 spots to claim 15th in ST.

“Our weekend at WGI didn’t start out great—we had some issues that left us off track during the test day,” said Thomas. “But our crew kept fighting. Dan did an amazing job during the day to improve his lap times by five seconds between his first session at Watkins Glen in a BMW to when he qualified the car. During the race he continued to move forward and handed the car over to me after the BimmerWorld boys executed a perfect pit stop. Overall it was a great team effort from everyone involved. It’s how you recover from adversity that matters, and everyone should be proud of themselves after last weekend.”

In a sea of other manufacturers in the Street Tuner class, there’s one metric that stands out quite heavily this year—the Manufacturers’ Championship. As a privateer program, and despite heavy factory involvement in the class, BimmerWorld’s tenacity and consistency has BMW sitting atop the championship after seven rounds, which serves as a point of pride for Clay and his team.

“The Manufacturers’ Championship is the place we can hang our hat this year,” he said. “In six of the seven races this season, BimmerWorld has put the points on the board to move BMW to the front of this race. In a year where we have to leverage our luck significantly to provide race finishes, BimmerWorld’s approach of running three equal cars pays off and gives us a better chance of putting a BMW at the top on any given race weekend.”

Now that the team has a little bit of time to breathe before the series makes its debut at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway later in the month, Clay is also starting to plan ahead for next season.

“This is the time of year where we start to look at team developments and driver lineups for the upcoming season, and our goal is to finish as the top BMW program in ST and to take the next step with our cars in the off season. The rules tend to be cyclical, and we’d expect the 328is to have things evened out a bit for 2013, which should make our quest for a championship even stronger. But for now, we are focused on wrapping up a strong 2012 showing.”

Follow the BimmerWorld team atwww.BimmerWorldRacing.com, and watch the Watkins Glen race when it airs July 14th at 1 p.m. ET on SPEED