Missed Fortunes for BimmerWorld at Road AmericaBimmerWorld heads home from Road America with unmet expectations. James Clay The BimmerWorld trio forced to grind it out throughout the race with a best finish of 7th. BimmerWorld's visit to the...
Missed Fortunes for BimmerWorld at Road AmericaBimmerWorld heads home from Road America with unmet expectations.
James Clay The BimmerWorld trio forced to grind it out throughout the race with a best finish of 7th.
BimmerWorld's visit to the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race in Wisconsin last weekend ended with an odd feel to it - something slightly dejà vu. In this case, the team's fortune clung on for back-to-back races.
"Road America was a lot like Mid-Ohio the weekend before, except that it was Nick's turn to get taken out by a spinning competitor. Last weekend, I took the lumps," said James Clay, BimmerWorld owner and driver. "We put in a lot of work for this busy swing on the World Challenge calendar, but for various reasons, we're headed home without the results we came for."
BimmerWorld left Mid-Ohio with Clay's car having been taken out by a fellow racer after an off track excursion sent him across track and out of control. At Road America, it was teammate Nick Esayian's BMW that was knocked out of the race in a scenario that was strangely reminiscent of Clay's unfortunate race ending encounter. Wheel-to-wheel accidents are often tolerable when the competition heats up, but being side-swiped and taken out by a spinning competitor is much harder to accept.
"I had the mother of all starts and was in 5th," said Esayian. "As I came over the hill in Turn 6 there was Jason Saini in one of the Mazdas all crossed up. I couldn't lift as the cavalry behind me would have run into me, so I dove inside of Jason. We all understand the front drive guys can simply floor it to try to save themselves from overdriving the car, and in this case, that technique shot Saini across the track into my Debt Cures BMW, damaging the suspension, tire and exhaust. It was nearly identical to how James was taken out last weekend."
Esayian's skillful leap to 5th place at the start was just the latest of several recent impressive drives he has put together. If not for being hit at Road America, his day should have ended on a higher note.
"I was passing Saini for 4th place, but in the irony of ironies, he went on to finish in 4th and I was out of the race. I know Jason felt rotten, but that doesn't change the situation: He lost control of his car, I was in control of mine, and I ended up paying the price in both car damage and championship points for his driving error."
The best finisher from the BimmerWorld/GearWrench ranks was Clay in 7th, followed closely home by teammate Seth Thomas in 8th. "We had a slight miscue in qualifying that prevented us from drafting each other, and if you've seen the long straights at Road America, you know it's critical to get a good draft for a fast lap. We ended up starting further back than we should have, and then made the most of it in the race."
With the current tight Touring Car fields, passing cars in the World Challenge series is one of the greatest challenges in the sport, as proven this weekend by the BimmerWorld trio who were forced to grind it out in the trenches throughout the race.
"My day was filled with some of the most intense battles I've ever had in this series. It ending with me trying to make up more ground, putting two tires off track, getting behind Seth, and then losing touch from the pack I was in. Finishing 7th isn't what I wanted, but as this team always does, we battled for every inch of the track. Sometimes you give it everything you have and have to accept what you get in return. Now we're on to Road Atlanta and I expect to have a much different tale to tell after that race."
For Seth Thomas, BimmerWorld's two-time 2009 race winner is happy to leave Road America and to begin planning for his home race in Georgia. "I'll take the 8th here, but it's not something any of us are willing to except more than once or twice a year. I think we're feeling the effects of the success ballast we've earned for doing well this season."
The SCCA uses a unique system called 'R.E.W.A.R.D.S.' where cars that win or score top finishes are made to add ballast to their cars to give the other cars a better chance to win. With two wins on the board, Thomas is carrying a lot of extra lead on the passenger side of his BMW E90.
"The 70 pounds of ballast they made me carry seems to have a greater impact on our performance than it does the front-wheel drive cars. Every car reacts differently to having weight put on it, and for us, it pushes everything to the limit - our brakes, our engines and our tires. I hope that doesn't sound like an excuse, because it's not meant to be one. Hopefully we will get some help before Road Atlanta - I really want to get back into the fight."
With nearly six weeks until the penultimate SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car round in Braselton, Georgia, Clay's team will be busy repairing and then readying their fleet of BMWs for the final weekends of 2009. "Jason Marks and our technicians have plenty of work to do between now and the next race at the end of September," said Clay. "We have been working with Moton a lot recently on our shock package and the rest of our partners will all be pushing to give us the best chance possible to win on one of our favorite tracks."