BimmerWorld Leaves Daytona Test Highly Encouraged; BimmerWorld is working hard to prepare for the first round of 2010 at Daytona. Dublin, VA, 1.14.10 - A busy winter filled with building two new entries for the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports...
BimmerWorld Leaves Daytona Test Highly Encouraged; BimmerWorld is working hard to prepare for the first round of 2010 at Daytona.
Dublin, VA, 1.14.10 - A busy winter filled with building two new entries for the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) series paid off for the BimmerWorld/GearWrench team as the #80 and #81 BMW E90s proved to be fast and reliable at last weekend's 'Roar Before the 24' test held at Daytona International Raceway.
The dark blue ST-class E90s, built in-house by BimmerWorld's crew chief Jason Marks and their veteran staff of BMW specialists, showed remarkable pace in their first outing at the famed track, but team owner/driver James Clay says the toughest challenge lies ahead at the first race, the Fresh From Florida 200 on January 29th.
"I was very happy with the results of our Daytona effort. The most comforting thing about the new ST cars is that they feel like an old pair of shoes. I remember my first drive in our old E90 racecars and they were definitely a different platform and it took us over a year to fully figure them out. At this point, the ST cars are built to a different spec, but they respond exactly like our previous cars and it has taken us a minimal amount of time to apply our previous years of development to fit within the rules of the CTSCC series. We're close, but I know the competition will get much hotter during the race."
The history of the track and the unique handling aspects of the road course make participating at the 3.56-mile circuit a memorable experience, says Clay.
"Daytona is a pretty amazing track. I came to learn the track late last year and walking through the halls to the drivers' meeting with all the old pictures really makes an impression. On track, the sweeping turns and braking stability required should suit our cars well, so I am excited to race here."
David White, Clay's co-driver in the #80 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW E90, came away from the Daytona test with a sense of satisfaction for all that he learned.
"I'm very pleased with how my first weekend driving in CTSCC went, and I was able to work on getting comfortable driving the new car. Thanks to BimmerWorld's years of experience racing E90s, the cars felt great right out of the box. James and I were able to focus on driving along with making the car comfortable for both of us, and I can't wait to get back to Daytona for the race in a few weeks!"
White, a championship winning BMWCCA racer, plans to spend a lot of time between the test and the race preparing for his pro racing debut.
"I'll visit the shop a few times to work on pit-stops/driver changes with the team. I'll also be reviewing the on-board data acquisition from the test to find areas that I can improve on. What I have noticed about the new cars is that they really respond well to smooth inputs so I will be focusing on that. I need to be fast without using the car up."
Seth Thomas and Bill Heumann showed the quality of the new BimmerWorld E90s by topping the time charts on the first day of the test. Thomas, a competitor in the ST class during the 2008 season, has a good feeling for how the team is fitting in to the CTSCC series.
"BimmerWorld came right out on the test days looking like the team I have raced with for over 6 seasons. They were well prepared for the event and everything they did looked polished and ready. In my experience, this is very hard for a team to do in their first weekend in a new series, especially switching formats from sprint races to endurance racing and all that entails for the crew. We haven't raced yet, but the team looked like veterans in the CTSCC series."
Track time for Thomas and Heumann was limited during the test due to an off-track excursion, but it didn't prevent the duo from making progress in their driver development.
"I don't feel like the incident set us back at all. Bill is a quick learner and we did get to work on other areas to help him come out of the box fast on the race weekend," said Thomas. "Overall, the weekend was a great success for the two of us."
For Heumann, his first taste of driving at Daytona in a BimmerWorld E90 was filled with highlights.
"Working with Seth and the rest of the BimmerWorld team at the Daytona test was a great experience. Everyone is professional and super helpful. Our engineer Wayne Yawn and our crew had the car set up so that it was very fast out of the box as shown by the lap times Seth put down and the times David and James were able to set in the #80 car. The fit and finish of the car is fantastic and we are fortunate that Seth and I are close enough in size that we have a very comfortable set up for both of us. After such a positive test, I can't wait to come back and race."
Now that the team has executed its first official CTSCC test, Clay and his staff will further refine the procedures and practices associated with endurance racing. After years of 50-minute sprint races, adapting to races that last nearly 3 hours and require pit stops and refueling was made easier by a steady regimen of 12- and 13-Hour amateur endurance races the team used as a tune-up for racing in the ST class.
"Sprint racing taught us how important it is to prepare a car properly and arrive at the track ready to race as the cars roll off the trailer -- you just don't get a second chance to fix a problem that was overlooked. Adding in the pit stops went really smoothly due to the endurance races we have been doing for the past few years. We will fine tune our stops, but the guys really put a lot of effort into their work and they always come to the track with a professional approach no matter what the venue is, so we are close already."
Jason Marks and the BimmerWorld technicians came away pleased with the fruits of their labor, but like every good group of professionals, they are working hard to make their cars better for the next round.
"Daytona left all of my crew members feeling good about the long hours we've spent getting the cars and team ready for GRAND-AM. We couldn't have asked for more from anyone. There is still a lot of work to do before the race to get everything ready, but we all relish the challenge. The crew can't wait to get back to Daytona."
The transition to the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge required a lot of effort by BimmerWorld and all of its partners, and despite a positive 'Roar Before the 24' test, James Clay is focused solely on achieving their goals at the Fresh From Florida 200.
"Things went well, but that was only a prelude to the race. We are happy with the test and feel that we are ready to race, but that doesn't mean we will be relaxing in the meantime. GRAND-AM has a first-rate series with the CTSCC, and that means we have to bring our best to the table. We have hours of extra pit stop practice scheduled, and will also be tweaking a couple of mechanical items to make the cars better. A smooth weekend requires being ready to execute 110% and while I feel we are on our game, we will still work to improve in every area."