Road America: BimmerWorld race report
BimmerWorld Team Is Tested As Road America Takes Its Toll With no time to spare, BimmerWorld's crew cleared major hurdles getting from the Centrex Grand Prix of Denver to the Generac 500 at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. With one ...
BimmerWorld Team Is Tested As Road America Takes Its Toll
With no time to spare, BimmerWorld's crew cleared major hurdles getting from the Centrex Grand Prix of Denver to the Generac 500 at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. With one damaged E90 and another with an expired power plant, the crew contributed a herculean effort to have three cars ready when the green flag came down on practice for Thursday's promoter test day.
"Road America was a challenge before we even got to the track," noted BimmerWorld owner and driver of the #36 BMW 325i, James Clay. "We only had two days to turn the cars around and had some heavy crash damage to repair from the fight on the streets of Denver. Ron Butler at Butler C&D in Kansas City was instrumental in getting the cars straight and ready for the track. In addition, the BimmerWorld crew put in two extremely long days to ensure we were ready to race."
Not a team to look for sympathy, James reflected on the time two years ago when they wrecked three cars in California.
"We picked up a lot of fans with that streak of bad luck," said James. "For some reason this recent run of bad breaks is not quite as appealing. We're really having to gut this one out. It goes right back to getting the new cars late... it just seems as though we've been chasing things ever since. I'm glad we've got the core group of fans that we do. They sure give us a lot of encouragement."
"I will say, I was very happy to see the cars as fast as they are," James added. "Seth and I were running times in the new E90s right from the first test session that should put us at the front of the grid. I feel like we've had podium-worthy cars."
Unfortunately, fate was not on James' side as the testing wore on.
"I had just turned a good lap in traffic during the second practice session," James recalled. "I had broken out for a clean lap with my teammates close on my heels. The car went through turn 1 smoothly right until the rear tracked out over the exit curbing. As soon as it touched, the car did a snap spin, putting me backwards into the wall at the exit of the turn. Post-mortem inspection showed a crack in a fastener on one of the rear suspension links. That is a bit of an anomaly on a car this fresh."
"My BimmerWorld E90 is definitely getting fast," continued James. "But after four events, I have yet to turn a race lap. I think Leighton Reese's monkey has jumped on my back and I need a change in luck!"
Having to sit out the race, James made the best of the weekend by joining up with Tom Hnatiw in the announcer's booth.
"While I enjoy doing the color commentary for the series and with Tom, I prefer to be in the car," James qualified.
Seth Thomas, driver of the #38 BimmerWorld 325i, was also out of favor with Lady Luck during this road trip. His weekend ended with a 19th place finish and an overheated motor.
"The crew did an amazing job of handing us a great racecar under tight scheduling," said Seth. "They had to replace my motor after Denver and fix James' car. They worked hard and it paid off in the laps that we did run. James and I both had fast cars right out of the box."
"I left Denver with a huge burden on my shoulders having had a good car but not being able to pull it all together," recalled Seth. "I was excited about Road America and hoped to start where I left off in Denver. My first session out was on old Denver race tires and I turned a lap time that ended up being faster than my qualifying time. I knew right then I was ready to get on with the weekend."
Later on in that same session Seth started getting a hot engine warning. The problem plagued him the rest of the weekend.
"Before qualifying I had only turned about six laps in practice and testing," stated Seth. "Then when I went out to qualify there was oil on the track. According to our data, that one spot of oil cost me 1.5 seconds... enough of a difference to qualify 14th instead of 2nd."
"Sadly, my race went the same way," said Thomas. "I was moving up through the field and had Pierre [Kleinubing] in my sights when the motor started running hot again. This time it didn't hold. Game over."
"There was a bright spot in the weekend though," added Thomas. "I worked on improving my braking technique with the new Performance Friction brake system on the E90 at Denver. This really helped during the Denver race and I was able put it to use again at Road America. From what I can tell the gain is about another 50ft in the brake zones making it much easier to pass."
"So I leave Road America in the same boat as after Denver," Thomas said. "I am ready to race. I'm confident we will get this monkey off our backs and we'll show the fans of BimmerWorld and World Challenge that the BimmerWorld built BMW E90 is the best chassis in World Challenge! Now on to Mosport".
Toby Grahovec joined BimmerWorld for the weekend driving the #39 BimmerWorld BMW 3251 for his first SPEED World Challenge Touring Car start. He qualified 17th for the race and finished 15th.
"Toby was fast all weekend," said James Clay, "but a bobble in his qualifying flyer and then a brake lock in the race which sent him off track, took him out of the top-10 finish I had expected for him. He did a great job, though."
"We're confident in our ability and the people that make up our team," concluded Clay. We are in a position where we are having to develop cars during the race season which is far from optimum. But from the progress we are making, I am very motivated to get the final bugs sorted out and start winning races. I have told our guys that the way development is going, the first race I finish will be the first win in the new chassis!"
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Touring Car standings after Road America
Mosport: Team Cadillac preview