BimmerWorld Back on Track after Thrilling VIR World Challenge Race Seth Thomas comes within 0.090 of winning; James Clay locks in a podium at his home race. Saturday's race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) delivered thrilling battles,...
BimmerWorld Back on Track after Thrilling VIR World Challenge Race
Seth Thomas comes within 0.090 of winning; James Clay locks in a podium at his home race.
Saturday's race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) delivered thrilling battles, two BimmerWorld drivers on the podium, the 5th closest finish in Series history, the fastest race lap, and the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for the Dublin, Virginia based team.
Add in the massive crowd supporting the BimmerWorld boys, and round two of the 2008 SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car championship was a classic event for all of those in attendance.
For Seth Thomas, VIR served as a weekend of career bests and highlights at every turn. "This weekend definitely is the best memory in racing for me. Somebody asked me that question this weekend and all I could tell them was last year leading most of the Road Atlanta race. Now this one trumps it. It was important for me to get the podium monkey off my back. Doing this at VIR with all the BimmerWorld fans and supporters at our home track.the moment couldn't have been any better."
Thomas not only earned the race's fastest lap, but was also bestowed with the Sunoco Hard Charger Award by the SCCA for passing an impressive five cars on his march to his second place finish. As Thomas noted, that march was anything but easy.
"The last half of this race was the hardest that I have ever driven. Racing with Kuno Wittmer those last few laps was give and take. He was fast in some sections and I was fast in others. We kept fighting it out trying to see who would come out on top. He had the better position. In those laps I could see him pushing the car to the limits and I saw some of his weaknesses. I kept trying to pressure him into a mistake at those spots but he kept it all together. On the last lap we did go side by side on a couple of occasions but I never could take advantage. There were several times where I was faster than Kuno and I could have stuck a nose in on him or loosened him up a little."
While Thomas could have barged his way past Wittmer, earning a victory on merit, rather than rough tactics, is how the Georgia-native prefers to race. "To me, bumping a guy out of the lead is not how I like to race. I think it is a lot more exciting seeing two cars going at it working ever advantage they can on the last lap and cross the finish line together is a lot more entertaining then bumping the leader out of the way. So Kuno and I did just that: keeping it clean all the way to the finish line."
Sharing in his success with James Clay made the weekend all the more perfect for Thomas. "I am so glad James was on the podium with me. James being there makes it a lot more memorable because we have been teammates for so long. Plus, James did give me a wave by on the front straight on lap two which helped to get me in the position I was in at the end of the race. I'm glad once again we put on a BMW show for everyone at VIR. We came away with the fastest lap which shows we have the speed to compete with everyone this year. Next step is to get the qualifying monkey off our backs, put the BMW on pole again, and then you will see us on the top of the podium at the end."
For Virginia-native James Clay, BimmerWorld's owner/driver, VIR is a weekend he won't soon forget. "I'm so incredibly proud of everyone," said Clay. "We've had VIR marked on our calendars from the day the race was announced, and to leave with Seth and me on the podium and to do it on our home turf was just perfect. Well, almost perfect; we really wanted to win, but I'll take the points we've earned and get ready for round three in Utah. I know Nick wanted a better result than what he had-he's not used to finishing outside the top ten, but I'm confident he'll be right there with us."
Clay's third place at VIR matched his previous best finish, a third place at Road Atlanta last October, but he's had enough of third place finishes. "Third place has gotten a little bit old.a win is the next step. Our cars have proven they're ready; our crew is ready, and Seth, Nick, and I are ready. I guess having three hungry drivers and three cars capable of winning isn't a bad problem to have." noted Clay.
If there was a major challenge at VIR, it was for the BimmerWorld crew to ready the three BMW E90's on a rapid fire schedule between sessions. "It was such a tight schedule to work from; every crew member gave all they had this weekend," offered Clay. "It might sound like a shameless plug, but with our guys working flat out to prepare three cars with almost no time on the clock to do so, the tools provided by our partners at GearWrench really helped get us on track with time to spare. They make it easier for our crew to do their jobs, and that's exactly what we need."
For BimmerWorld newcomer Nick Esayian, a finish outside the top ten at VIR has the SPEED Touring Car veteran looking forward to the next round at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. "It's been an interesting start of the season for me. I left a good finish on the table at Sebring and never really got my mojo workin' this weekend. I'm happy for Seth and James, but I think I've served my time in BimmerWorld's boot camp; it's time to join the same battlefield they're on."
The VIR race will be broadcast Wednesday, April 30 at 1 p.m. (EDT). The series next travels to Miller Motorsports Park for Round Three, May 18.