2007: A Year of Change and Success for BimmerWorld in SPEED Touring Car Top BMW Touring Car team develops E90 into a front runner; breaks through to victory circle. Looking back on years of hard work and innovation with the BMW...
2007: A Year of Change and Success for BimmerWorld in SPEED Touring Car
Top BMW Touring Car team develops E90 into a front runner; breaks through to victory circle.
Looking back on years of hard work and innovation with the BMW brand BimmerWorld has raced for nine years, five of those in the SCCA World Challenge series, team owner and driver James Clay saw the 2007 SPEED Touring Car season as just a sample of what his Dublin, Virginia team has in store for the future.
"We broke through this year--it took a little longer than we wanted it to, but I think our win at Mid-Ohio, my podium at Road Atlanta, and Seth Thomas continually qualifying and running in the top-5 shows that our team and BMW E90 cars have begun to reach our potential."
Even with that potential now being realized, Clay was hard pressed to state his team is ready to dominate. "Looking back on 2007, you can see a strong current of our growth and development with the E90 at every event. Starting out at Sebring, Seth and I qualified in the top-6, and promptly got hit and suffered as a result. He still managed to finish 10th while I came home in 19th after a length pit stop for repairs. We both started and finished in the top-10 at Miller, and then we went through a 'character building' stretch through the next three events."
As the BimmerWorld crew and drivers fought through a rough patch of on-track contact and off-track development, two months of tireless efforts by everyone involved with the operation that found their hard work rewarded with the teams first win. Clay was almost beyond words when it happened.
"You work for such a long time to start a new team, find the right people, build the cars to the best you believe they should be, and do so in the pursuit of victory. I'm still excited about our first win, and for it to come at the challenging Mid-Ohio track was even better. It took all of the qualities that make our E90's so unique to deliver out first win. While I'm happy that my friend Joey Hand was able to deliver that first win, I'm even more confident that Seth Thomas and I are ready to add more wins to our tally in 2008."
Clay is also ready to get back to his own efforts behind the wheel. "Racing is what I love--running and owning the team take a lot of effort, but the driving is what makes it all worth it. My season might not have gone as planned, but my shoulder is fully healed, and I think that finishing on the podium at Road Atlanta in the next to last race was proof that we're firing on all cylinders. I have a point to prove next year, and know I have the right car and the right people to do so."
It was BimmerWorld driver Seth Thomas that truly brought the heat in 2007, managing to deliver the fastest qualifying laps and often serving as the fastest BMW E90 in the race. "I was fortunate to be able to show more of my abilities than ever this year," the Georgia native said. Having qualified 2nd, 3rd on two occasions, 4th, and 6th, Thomas also managed to qualify in the top-10 for all but two of the ten SPEED Touring Car races.
"What can I say--our crew and partners help to deliver a car for me that's always easy to drive fast. It's about the most fun car I've ever driven--it sounds incredible, looks incredible, and handles incredibly well--just like BMW's are known for."
Thomas is equally as enthused to get the 2008 season under way. "I'm so happy we won our first race this year and became a featured presence on TV and at the front of the grid. For me personally, qualifying on the front row for my home race at Road Atlanta and leading most of the race was a 'dream come true.' Actually, it was almost a dream come true--being on the pole and winning the race next year is a big part of my motivation. I hope to have won a few races before we get to Road Atlanta as well..."
Matt Richmond, a popular BimmerWorld returnee in the final round at Laguna Seca, proved how capable the BimmerWorld cars and team are for any driver to jump into. "It took me a while to find my feet and get back up to speed--it had been almost a year since I last drove a race car, but by the time the race came along, I was passing people left and right and really moving in my BMW. Richmond, starting down in 22nd place, earned both the B&M Shifters' Holeshot Award' for the making up the most places on the opening lap. He'd vault twelve places by the end of the race, landing in 10th on an outstanding day that capped the season for the three-car team.
"I'm incredibly proud of what Matt accomplished at Laguna," Clay said. It's a perfect example of what we've invested our time and effort into. I love the fact that a driver like Matt can come back after a long layoff and take one of our BMW E90's and finish in the top-10. Seth and I have been driving our cars for a while, but the true test of a team is how well all of its drivers perform. I think Matt demonstrated that, as did Joey Hand earlier in the year."
While 2007 proved the team was capable of winning and running at the front, Clay knows what's needed to ready his drivers for a shot at the championship and his cars a shot at delivering the manufacturers championship. "Consistency. That's the one thing I'd say we need to improve; our cars got knocked around pretty badly this season by other drivers; I dislocated my shoulder and missed three rounds; Seth seemed to be the lightning rod for any development issues, and we had to be patient while we overcame some oiling issues with our engines. Our crew worked their tails off to solve, fix, and recover from any issues we had--we just need a little more consistency and a little less adversity and we'll be a constant threat."
For 2008, Clay's BimmerWorld outfit is ready to launch another three-car assault on the SCCA's premier pro racing series. "I can't yet reveal who's going to be in the third car, but I can say that after the taste of victory our crew and partners had in 2007, we're absolutely obsessed with tasting it again and again next year. All of our cars are undergoing complete ground-up rebuilds, and we expect to be testing in January to kick the season off with a bang."