BimmerWorld Scores Vital Points in Canada Towards Street Tuner Championship Thomas and Heumann extend their ST-class points lead to 19 (263-244) with just one round remaining It wasn't a perfect first appearance for the ...
BimmerWorld Scores Vital Points in Canada Towards Street Tuner Championship
Thomas and Heumann extend their ST-class points lead to 19 (263-244) with just one round remaining
It wasn't a perfect first appearance for the BimmerWorld/GearWrench GRAND-AM team on the streets of Trois Rivieres, Quebec, Canada, but when the checkered flag fell on Saturday's Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres event, Seth Thomas and Bill Heumann drew closer to earning their first championship in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner series.
Driving the No. 81 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW E90, Thomas and Heumann made the most of a tough day in French Canada that saw a number of their competitors diving for pit lane to replace their brakes while the no. 81's Performance Friction brake components ran flawlessly to the finish.
Entering the race with just a 13-point lead in the drivers' championship, a steady performance by Thomas and Heumann stretched the lead to 19 markers with the final race of the season a little less than a month away. While the drivers of the No. 81 are always focused on the win, taking fourth and building more championship momentum is an acceptable outcome, according to Thomas.
"This was another result that came from great teamwork between Bill and me, and from our entire crew. Bill really came up to speed quickly this weekend and shouldered the monster portion of the race, bringing in an undamaged car well inside the top-10 after about an hour fifteen. I got by a few cars but I was driving a very conservative race and didn't push the issue with anyone, but in this series, that means dialing it back from 100 percent to 99, honestly. We needed a good finish with no problems to spread the championship lead and we got it."
Thomas also credited the BimmerWorld/GearWrench team, and his BMW E90 for providing such a decisive advantage when their rivals' cars buckled under the heat on the streets of Trois Rivieres.
"Our crew was awesome this weekend, executing a pit stop for two tires, refueling, and a driver change in 30 seconds, which picked up a lot of positions for us. That was huge. We knew coming into the weekend that we had to preserve our equipment, and as the heaviest car in the field by over 100 pounds, the brakes take a beating. It wasn't easy for us - we had to conserve brakes on the track while lots of cars seemed willing to run theirs off, and when we left the pits the right front brakes were on fire, but we have Performance Friction pads and rotors on the car and they seem to make magic happen in the braking system."
It's easy to forget that the BimmerWorld/GearWrench GRAND-AM team is a rookie in the series, making the transition last January from sprint racing in another series to the rigors of endurance competition. The Dublin, Virginia-based outfit has maintained a fast but steady approach to racing in the Street Tuner class, culminating in two wins for the No. 81, the championship lead, and a 19-point lead by the team in the teams' championship.
But even with all of their good fortunes this season, Heumann says a top finish never gets old, and is never taken for granted.
"Our team goal is to win the championship and to do so we need for No. 81 to finish in the top-10 every race. A fourth place finish is great! Even though the smaller and lighter cars were much faster than us at Trois Rivieres, I have no doubt that Seth could have kept some of them behind. It would have forced them to try an aggressive move to get around, which they would have surely tried since they aren't in the championship contention. On this course that could have easily resulted in a DNF for us. We are after the big prize and being smart is the way to get there. The car was absolutely flawless, our strategy was right, our pit stop was spot on, and we increased our lead in the championship by 9 points. I like winning, of course, but I don't see much to be down about!"
The tale of Trois Rivieres was a tad bit different for the sister No. 80 BMW of James Clay and David White. The BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW had plenty of speed, with White qualifying second, missing the pole position by a scant .051, but a first lap incident brought an immediate end to their day.
White, starting on the front row, was challenged by the lighter no. 75 Honda, the sister car to the No. 74 car which sits seconds in the championship behind Thomas and Heumann. The No. 75 executed a clean pass, taking second from White, but a split second after clearing the No. 80's front bumper - and well before the normal braking point - the No. 75 appeared to make a panic braking maneuver at over 100mph while just a few feet in front of the BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW.
Attempting to move left to avoid the No. 75's premature braking effort was unsuccessful, as the Honda didn't leave enough room for the BMW to take avoiding action. The ill-advised move by the No. 75 ended the day of both cars on the spot, causing heavy front end damage for both entries.
"I knew the Hondas needed to conserve their brakes if they were going to be able to finish well at this race, but with no cars immediately in front of us to require jamming on the brakes, I had no warning that the Honda driver would start braking a full 75 feet before the normal braking point. And since he had also chosen to take my line away by pulling in front of me after clearing my bumper by no more than three feet, I immediately went into evasive action. Unfortunately there is only so much you can do at 110mph and the outcome is no real surprise. This is just basic stuff you should learn when you get your drivers' license - you can't cut right in front of someone, brake unexpectedly, and think they can avoid hitting you, and the result was unfortunately bad for both of us."
Team owner James Clay was philosophical about the incident, noting how the two teams locked in the championship battle have raced each other cleanly all year long.
"The race for the championship between the No. 81 BimmerWorld/GearWrench car and the #74 Honda shows how we play the game. We came into Trois Rivieres with very solid, well-prepared cars and a very solid race strategy - all we needed to do was preserve the equipment and the results followed. The No. 80 was put in a position by the no. 75 that no one involved benefitted from, and it was a very poor end to the weekend."
With Trois Rivieres behind them, Seth Thomas says that after taking a quick breather after an intense eight month championship battle, his full attention will be on getting himself and Bill Heumann prepared for the finale in Utah.
"I headed directly out to Montana with my family after the race, but I will have my driving hat back on in a week. Bill and I are then visiting Miller Motorsports Park to learn the track, but at this point, we just need to keep doing what we have been all season and come into Utah mentally prepared to earn a title for BimmerWorld, GearWrench, Performance Friction, Redline Oil, RAYS, and the rest of our partners. We love this kind of pressure, and can't wait to get the finale under way. We should also have some news to reveal in the next few days on our plans for 2011, so there's nothing but anticipation and excitement in the BimmerWorld/GearWrench camp right now."
The end to BimmerWorld's amazing 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season takes place on September 11th at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.