The BMW aftermarket and tuning experts at BimmerWorld have built a reputation as one of the finest racing teams in the Continental Tire Series paddock, and with another top-5 finish in the Championship, the Virginia-based squad has maintained its presence among the sport’s elite programs.
The season finale last weekend at Road Atlanta didn’t deliver the win BimmerWorld sought, and with victory as the only goal team owner/driver James Clay and his team strive for, it was clear he wanted more than two of his four cars placing inside the top-10.
“Road Atlanta was a solid race for us, and the team was 100 percent there and performing,” he said. “It has been a bit of a frustrating season, and a couple of top-10 finishes are an acceptable end given the highs we’ve had elsewhere. The checkered flag was a sweet sight, as it signified the start of a better 2015 to me.”
Drivers Greg Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke took eighth in the Street Tuner class at Road Atlanta in the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90 chassis), followed by Clay and Jason Briedis in the No. 84 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30 chassis) in ninth. The Liefooghe/Cooke combo led the Championship during the middle portion of the season and fought hard to finish fifth after a wave of pint-sized cars were advantaged with Balance of Performance changes.
Other than another run to a Championship top-5, possibly the most impressive aspect of BimmerWorld’s year came with the development and progress of the turbocharged F30 BMW platform. Built for racing purposes by Clay’s team, the No. 84 F30 showed incredible pace and promise in the ST class, making the ninth-place at Road Atlanta another point of confirmation the brand-new car has a bright future in the series.
“This has been somewhat of a development year for the F30 after we were giving the rules needed to be on par with the ST field early this season,” Clay explained. “We have had some wrinkles to iron out, but we have a really good handle on the car now, and it has been a solid performer the last half of the season. We have work to do off-season, but without question, with the improvements we will implement, this platform is ready for prime time.”
Liefooghe has solidified his place as one of the fastest and most consistent drivers in the series. He’s not the kind of person to find happiness in consolation prizes, but says he can put 2014 behind him knowing he and his teammate got everything out of the No. 81 E90.
“The season finale was a hard fight especially with all the full course yellows that kept the field packed together,” he said of their run to eighth. “It was a nice change from the very long green stints we have been seeing over the last few races, which turned out to be more about fuel conservation rather than actual wrestling for positions on track. We worked hard on chassis set up and I think we nailed it. It would have been great to send off our E90 with a podium finish, but the rules did not allow us to do that. Time to focus on next year and on some big changes coming up.”
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ROAD ATLANTA RESULTS:
No. 80 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), started 20th, finished 18th
Eric Zimmermann: Road Atlanta, being my home track, is a very comfortable place for me. Getting up to speed at the track came quickly thanks to that familiarity and the input of the other BimmerWorld drivers. I’d hoped to qualify a little bit higher, but I believe there were only two BMWs (both BimmerWorld teammates) in front of me, so I was generally pleased with where I was on the grid. The rain held off, the race went smoothly, and I was able to move forward numerous spots within the field during my stint. It was a bittersweet day for certain and it was tough pulling all of my gear out of the trailer knowing that the season had come to a close.
Tyler Cooke: The race in the No. 80 car didn’t go exactly how we wanted it to but it was no fault of anyone, just how the race played out. Eric did a great job moving forward into the top ten. We found something both with the 80 and 81 that made the cars fast and consistent. Yellows didn’t fall how we wanted them to but still got to show the potential of the car and looking forward to a new season.
No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), started 14th, finished 8th
Tyler Cooke: The start of the race in the 81 was mayhem to say the least. Having some corners dry and having some very damp made for some great racing. BimmerWorld always has a great race car and that showed with the 81 moving up to seventh before handing it to Greg where Greg did a great job getting the car as high as 4th. Cautions weren’t our friend both in the 80 or 81, but we fought hard and walked away with an eighth place. The team did a great job keeping us up front.
No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (E90), started 30th, finished 22nd
Seth Thomas: Not the race Dan Rogers and I were looking for to end the season with in the BimmerWorld E90. Overall I think we worked hard to achieve success especially with a home field advantage but it didn’t work out that way.
No. 84 BimmerWorld BMW 328i (F30), started 19th, finished 9th
James Clay: The weather and temperature was all over the place this weekend. I had a solid car under me and used it to move forward during the race. We didn’t have the ultimate speed to win, but I was happy to see the forward progress.
Jason Briedis: With the variable conditions, it was quite a fun race. Our car was good in the damp conditions, allowing me to pick up quite a few positions in the first half of the race. In the end, ninth was a decent result. The current Balance of Performance restrictions are preventing us from getting much more. Hopefully next year the playing field will be a little better balanced.