BimmerWorld Rallies for Strong Finish at Homestead-Miami GRAND-AM Event * BimmerWorld/GearWrench places both entries in the top-7 at the Grand Prix of Miami, Homestead 200 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race * ...
BimmerWorld Rallies for Strong Finish at Homestead-Miami GRAND-AM Event
* BimmerWorld/GearWrench places both entries in the top-7 at the Grand Prix of Miami, Homestead 200 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race
* #81 BMW E90 of Seth Thomas and Bill Heumann earns more valuable points with a fourth place finish
* BimmerWorld/GearWrench stands second in the teams' championship after two rounds. Thomas and Heumann share fourth in the drivers' championship
#80 and #81 Cars The BimmerWorld crew did their jobs perfectly making pit stops go smoothly.
After an amazing run to finish on the podium in their debut GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Daytona International Speedway in January, the new BimmerWorld/GearWrench Street Tuner-class team came away with more valuable points at last weekend's Grand Prix of Miami, Homestead 200 race after placing their BMW E90s fourth and seventh out of 31 entries.
The Grand Prix of Miami, Homestead 200 found the #80 and #81 E90s mixing it up in the lead pack, with Seth Thomas and Bill Heumann holding the point in the #81, leading seven laps after starting the race from pit lane, and ultimately taking home a fourth place finish. The #80 of James Clay and David White led for two laps on their way to seventh place. Thomas also took the honor of setting the fastest race lap for the Street Tuner class.
With incredibly strong outings in BimmerWorld's first two Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge outings, team owner/driver James Clay placed the Virginia team's early success on the experience within his unit of BMW specialists. BimmerWorld might be new to GRAND-AM, he says, but the move to the Street Tuner class was made after nearly a decade of road racing BMW cars in other series.
"A lot of people tell me that it is surprising to see a new team come in and be in contention immediately -- our friends are impressed and our competitors are sometimes a little miffed. The fact is, we put the proper resources in the program, BimmerWorld built the cars to a proven pro level, we have the right staff and partners on hand, and we expect to come out strong. When pro racing was new to us, I thought we were doing everything we needed to do to win, but the truth is I didn't know a lot of what teams actually have to do to not just have a fast car but create a winning program. Eight years later, I have enough experience to know that I still don't know it all, but BimmerWorld has learned a lot and certainly we have a high percentage of the components of a top team at the highest pro levels checked off our list now."
Like any team campaigning in a new series, 2010 will serve as a learning year for BimmerWorld, and the Homestead-Miami event added to the team's database when they return to race on the unique 'Roval' configuration. While the Homestead-Miami circuit proved not to be a natural fit for the E90, all four drivers, and BimmerWorld engineer Wayne Yawn did their best to overcome the conditions.
"Homestead was a little bit of a challenge for us" explained Clay. Our cars are the heaviest in the field and with the tight turns at Homestead, that didn't help. A lower grip surface and very late apexes may not have suited the cars to our liking either, but if we really punished the car, we could eek out a fast lap. Unfortunately, one fast lap doesn't win a race and we couldn't hold that level of speed for any duration. I am looking forward to the tracks with more sweeping turns that won't put our cars at quite the disadvantage we were here this weekend."
With the #81 BMW E90 registering two consecutive hard charging drives, Thomas and Heumann have caught the attention of Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series fans and competitors.
The performance of the team, according to Thomas, can be attributed to a philosophy employed by Clay, crew chief Jason Marks, and the entire BimmerWorld/GearWrench organization: There are no major or minor details; everything is equally important and requires exhaustive attention to detail.
"We didn't come into the series expecting to learn slowly, and we don't accept that a new team should set their expectations low. The success that Bill and I have had this year has all been down to a comprehensive plan BimmerWorld put together for our move to GRAND-AM. It might seem like a small, but Bill and I went to an HPDE day at Homestead held by one of our new partners, Chin Motorsports, two weeks before the race to help us get ready for this weekend, and it worked wonders. If there's a slight chance something will improve our results, that's what BimmerWorld will focus on."
If starting from pit lane wasn't enough of a challenge at Homestead-Miami, Thomas says he and Heumann pushed their BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW to the limits on every lap and it withstood all of the punishment they could dish out.
"Throughout the race every aspect of our E90 worked together perfectly, and I know Bill and I were leaning on her pretty hard. We continue to make up time under braking, and I've used Performance Friction's brakes for years, so that isn't a surprise. The crew did their jobs perfectly to make our pit stops go smoothly. BimmerWorld has given us a complete team package to work with and I'm really proud of how smooth things have gone."
Thomas' co-driver was instrumental in anchoring the first half of the #81's drive to fourth place, and for Bill Heumann, his progression in the first two races of 2010 has impressed everyone within the team.
"I think it's normal for any new driver to a professional series to want to keep their nose clean and not to make any wrong moves, but like Seth said, BimmerWorld has a highly detailed plan and program in place, and while I'm here to learn, I have all the tools to approach each weekend like a veteran instead of like a rookie. I'm really happy with how things are coming along for me. I'm having the time of my life right now, and being able to battle wheel-to-wheel with some of the biggest names in our series is exactly what I knew I could do."
Despite being on a high from two strong races to open the season, Clay points out that allowing the team to become impressed with their results is the last thing he'd allow. He says everyone is pleased with BimmerWorld/GearWrench holding second place in the teams' championship, and with Thomas and Heumann sitting fourth in the drivers' points table, but those statistics won't cause the team to relax one bit.
"Certainly there is always room to improve in racing. If we were leading team, driver, and manufacturer points, I am sure we still wouldn't have executed to perfection. The fact that we aren't in that position means we will be working harder to make sure all our ducks in a row. Racing isn't like some other ventures -- you can't know all the answers, you can't ever be at 100%, and you can't ever rest on your achievements. We expect to have bumps in the road and hopefully our ability to handle them and adapt will be what puts us on top as we move through the season."