Mid-Ohio: BimerWorld race report

BimmerWorld Drivers Make the Most out of a Challenging Mid-Ohio Race Team's drivers sit 6th, 9th, and 11th in 2008 points championship as they push their BMW E90's to the limit. The BimmerWorld SPEED World Challenge Touring Car team unloaded ...

BimmerWorld Drivers Make the Most out of a Challenging Mid-Ohio Race
Team's drivers sit 6th, 9th, and 11th in 2008 points championship as they push their BMW E90's to the limit.

The BimmerWorld SPEED World Challenge Touring Car team unloaded their rapid BMW E90's at Mid-Ohio with dreams of repeating their 2007 win at the Lexington, Ohio track firmly in mind. The three-car team would leave Mid-Ohio without that win, but have high hopes for their cars to be able to show their true competitive form at the remaining rounds.

"Certainly none of the teams are sitting still, including us," said team owner/driver James Clay. "We not only managed to repair the cars after Watkins but also upgraded the suspension design and got some testing in. Unfortunately it wasn't enough to close the gap. The other teams also sped up a bit through the weekend -- that is probably the toughest part. We're in a position where all of our new developments are put immediately on the track and make us faster, but watching some of the other cars conjure a couple of seconds when they need it is not a trick we are capable of at this point."

In a race that saw two of the three BimmerWorld cars slowed by contact from overaggressive competitors, Seth Thomas was the only driver to reach the finish line unimpeded. "I gave it all I had and my E90 was on the limit the entire race. 6th place would make some drivers happy, but we know we're ready to win. I feel bad for James and Nick--Nick especially seems to be a target this year."

Esayian, not accustomed to biting his tongue, thought the problem was best left to the SCCA to correct. "I've been in this series for a long time and I know driving standards can fluctuate. I've been on the wrong side of few accidents over the years, but now that we all have the in-car cameras the series mandated, maybe they can tighten the reins on some of the out of control behavior this year. I'd love to finish a race for a change without any dents on my car!"

One of the toughest challenges faced by the series sanctioning body, SCCA Pro Racing, is determining the competitive balance between so many different types of cars. For a team like BimmerWorld, taking the fight to factory teams like Acura and Mazda is something the team works at tirelessly between races. Clay is confident his team has been putting in the effort to be successful.

"Certainly we have the consistency down, although we could use a little luck. On the overall speed side, I think our E90 cars are incredibly well developed and at this point very fast cars and in the driver's seat, the consistency in the data is evident as well. There's nothing left to give--we're flat out on every lap of every race. At some point, someone in tech will hopefully realize we haven't been sandbagging for three years, and will adjust the specification of our cars so they can compete at the front more than occasionally."

With the BimmerWorld trio of Thomas, Clay, and Esayian now 6th, 9th, and 11th in the driver's points, the BMW E90's pilots are focused on scoring podium finishes and victories to close out the 2008 season. Thomas is aiming for the top step of the podium. "A win is all I'm honing in on right now. We've been fast, we've been on the podium, but winning is what we live for these days."

It's a sentiment James Clay knows all too well. "At this point, I'm focusing only on winning races. Running Mid-Ohio with no power due to a closed-off exhaust from being hit on lap one netted an 11th and was a move to keep me in the points, so I do think about it. But, the only thing that we can accomplish with only 3 races left that will really be a good achievement is standing on the podium a few more times."

Led by crew chief Jason Marks, Clay's BimmerWorld technicians and team partners continue to strive for performance gains with their BimmerWorld built and developed E90's.

"The tough part of development is that it just takes time and work," Clay said. "Certainly we have circled around solutions over and over again for the E90's Achilles Heel -- its suspension, but at this point, I don't think we're sneaking up on something better or we haven't been exhaustive in our efforts. We have the most advanced E90's racing in America today. Working harder is a 'cute' thought, but at some point, hard work, money spent and all the time in the world doesn't net more than marginally better results. It's enough to keep pace with the developments of the rest of the field, but unfortunately, it's not enough to close the gap."

Fighting for wins might dominate BimmerWorld's immediate goals, but the announcement of the new possible rules for 2009 that would lower costs and encourage greater parity amongst different cars has the team cautiously optimistic.

"If it is implemented correctly it's a great idea. If not, nothing will change and the cars will simply look different," offered a pragmatic Nick Esayian. James Clay echoed Nick's measured outlook. "Done properly, this will lower the cost of entry fees and will help new teams enter the field. But success is all in its implementation, and unfortunately I haven't seen a proper balance this year amongst the different manufacturers with a known-functional structure in place, so I am optimistic, but maybe too much so for reality."

With the team shaking off the disappointments of Mid-Ohio, they'll shift gears to preparing for the next round at Road America just weeks away. It's another opportunity for BimmerWorld to capitalize on their hard work, and to try their hand again at victory on the demanding four-mile long Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track.

-credit: bimmerworld

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Series PWC
Drivers James Clay , Seth Thomas