Millville: BimmerWorld Racing race report

BimmerWorld Perseveres Through New Jersey BimmerWorld Perseveres Through New JerseyAfter the highs of a win at Sebring in March, the BimmerWorld/GearWrench team was forced to settle for less than they'd hoped for at Thunderbolt Raceway. With...

BimmerWorld Perseveres Through New Jersey

BimmerWorld Perseveres Through New JerseyAfter the highs of a win at Sebring in March, the BimmerWorld/GearWrench team was forced to settle for less than they'd hoped for at Thunderbolt Raceway.

With the highs of winning the season opening race at Sebring still firmly in their minds, top SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car entrant BimmerWorld Racing was reminded that a follow-up win is even harder to achieve, as seen last weekend at Thunderbolt Raceway in New Jersey.

Team owner/driver James Clay was the top BimmerWorld/GearWrench entry at the finish line in 7th, followed by Nick Esayian in 9th and Seth Thomas in 14th.

Seth Thomas, first-time winner for the team at Sebring, continued his promising form by qualifying the #38 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW in second place. An unforeseen driveline failure would end the Georgian's day a split-second after the starting lights turned green. "Unfortunately that is part of racing. As a driver we get to experience all the highs and lows of racing. I went from winning Sebring to qualifying 2nd at New Jersey. I was in a good position to repeat Sebring and was psyched up to do so; it was a big disappointment, but it's still early in the season."

Despite the letdown at New Jersey, Thomas is keeping a positive outlook. "The only thing I can do is put it in the past and look to the next race where I plan to get as many points as I can so we can stay in the fight for the championship!"

While he fell from 1st to 3rd in the driver's championship, Thomas doesn't expect the lack of results at Thunderbolt to have a lasting impact on his title aspirations. "We still managed to score some points, and with it being early in our championship bid, we still have a shot at it. I am looking at the big picture here and keeping my hopes alive. This was just one race and we still can win the championship."

The BimmerWorld team is working overtime to remedy the situation says team owner James Clay. "Certainly the forces we have in the driveline due to standing starts and rear wheel drive on this car are causing a mess -- at this point we are running a much more stout selection of parts than even the BMWs in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Having a failure like this once is tragic and twice is really unacceptable, but wildly enough this is a new one -- it's never the same thing over."

The challenge faced by the BimmerWorld/GearWrench team is made even greater with less than two weeks between New Jersey and the next round, Mosport, near Toronto. "First, and with only a two week timeline, we will put in new parts on all three cars as a quick solution. From there, we'll analyze the failure and either design new parts for the long term or change part-lifeing cycles."

Clay's race was filled with a few heated battles as he fought his way to 7th place. "My race really started and ended with one move. On the second lap, I got a gap in front and on the gas really early out of the carousel, bringing a lot of speed onto the front straight. I was behind Pierre [Kleinubing] who also had a run on [Eric] Foss in front of him and we both made a move to the right at the same moment. It seemed like we should have easily been able to fit three-wide into turn 1, but things got crowded, I bounced over the apex curbing and it tossed my BimmerWorld/GearWrench car into an unrecoverable slide that forced me off-track.

"Unfortunately, we then had a full green-flag race and I was never able to get in the draft to catch the cars in front. So it was a matter of turning laps from that point and hoping for mistakes from those ahead of me, but they never really came."

Nick Esayian's weekend in the #34 Debt Cures BMW E90 was solid, but after a 5th place finish at Sebring, anything less was going to leave the popular World Challenge veteran wanting for more.

"It wasn't a bad weekend, but it wasn't a great weekend either. I was behind one of the Mazdas in qualifying and he got sideways, tried to make a save and I needed to back off. According to the data, that cost me about .3 seconds which was the difference between where I started in 9th, and something like a 4th or 5th in this super competitive group."

Esayian's race would see him finish where he started, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. "I had a decent start to the race but James [Clay] and Pierre [Kleinubing] were dicing and they both went off. When Kleinubing came back on, it was clear he wasn't too concerned that we were going to bang fenders so I lifted and moved offline. I simply carried too much speed into turn three, considering my track position, and went off. The splitter got ripped off and at that point, I was dead in the water. After that I just drove around. It was boring as heck. I had a top five car and blew it."

With his team working at full speed to prepare their trio of BMW E90s before sending them off to race in Canada, Clay's thankful to have a sponsor whose products allow his crew to make fast work of a short timeline.

"It is great to be partnered with GearWrench again this season -- we are stocked up with their tools in the shop and they send us packages of newly developed products through the year. Their innovative line of tools keeps our turnarounds efficient and fast, which then allows us to focus on the extras it takes to roll into Mosport ready to win, not just ready to run on the track."

Once the BimmerWorld/GearWrench transporter arrives at the rolling, 2.5 mile, 10-turn track, both Thomas and Esayian look forward to putting the superior handling of their BMW E90s to the test.

"Mosport is going to be great!" Thomas exclaimed. "I have already been thinking about how to drive the track with the cars as they are developed now -- I think our E90s are going to be fast there. Last year we should have sprayed some champagne with the crew at Mosport but a brain fade on my part cost us that opportunity. This year we are looking for redemption and I am confident we will be celebrating with the crew at our favorite track."

For Esayian, the greatness of Mosport comes from its mix of high and low speed corners, and its many elevation changes. "The first time I drove there it was a bit intimidating. The average speed for a Touring Car is right around 100 mph; that's huge, and the track has a reputation for chewing up cars and drivers. But I've really grown to love the track and the great fans there.

"Of all the corners, I like Turn're just flying down the back straight and while you have to press the brakes hard on corner entry, you still carry a ton of speed into it. I have to guess that with the slight banking there, we are pulling some serious Gs. If you get it right it feels great and the result is a great lap time...but if you blow it, any number of disasters can befall you."


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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers James Clay , Nick Esayian , Seth Thomas
Teams BimmerWorld Racing