After a disappointing race at Watkins Glen, the BimmerWorld team can't wait to get to Mid-Ohio this weekend as they look to add to the win they scored at the track in 2007.
Heading into round seven of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car season this weekend at Mid-Ohio, the three-car BimmerWorld team is hoping for a repeat of their fortunes from 2007.
With the team on the cusp of success, team owner and driver James Clay made the bold decision to step out of the seat for two rounds to focus on optimizing all areas of the team's BMW E90's. That move would help the team in the short-term, but would also set into motion improvements that have had a big effect in 2008.
"Certainly the team's first World Challenge win was a major stepping stone," Clay said. "Unfortunately I didn't race a car that weekend and Seth had a mechanical issue, so I think it was a little bittersweet for both of us.
"Watching the win from the sidelines was tough, but as a team owner, it was the right choice and the team progressed due to the time I put in when I wasn't behind the wheel. We operate on a whole different level now since that weekend, and more importantly, throughout 2008. Once you get the taste of the win, nothing else is a substitute and the whole team is obsessed with earning more."
Clay's time out of the saddle was also used to work with his BimmerWorld technicians and partners to improve the robustness of their E90's. "I really think last year the team was set to win races but we still battled reliability due to the required parts for the car. This year, the reliability is much improved due to the Xtrac transmissions and some additional work we have done over the winter.
"Beyond that, the team has matured even further. Racing is a wild sport - the pace of development and team improvement is rapid for a front-running team. If we were where we are now as a team last year, we would have been dominant, but unfortunately it is 2008. I think we have closed the gap versus the other teams since last season and sit in a better spot now."
BimmerWorld driver Seth Thomas has also seen the team's growth in the year since their maiden SPEED TC victory. "In the year since the win, our cars have become stronger, our team has become even better, and I think BimmerWorld as a whole had upped its game in every area. Winning will never be easy in this series, but now that we've proven our cars are capable, that's all we aim for."
With high expectations for a win last year, Thomas is also keen to prove what he and his BMW can do at the Lexington, Ohio track this weekend. "My team got the win we deserved but the fastest car never got to show its speed during the race. It helped us get over a hump we had been fighting for a long time. As for us doing the same thing again this year, I think we can do it again. The track was really easy to drive then, and the cars this year are much better so I think we should have similar results, but more than likely with a couple of more BimmerWorld BMWs on the podium."
For driver Nick Esayian, racing as the twisting track in a rear-wheel driver BMW will be a welcomed change after years of racing front-wheel drive machinery at the circuit. "Obviously the E90 was fast enough last year to get the job done, but the Japanese cars have gotten faster too so it will be a tough fight. If it rains we will be at a serious disadvantage... In the dry the scales tilt in our favor. Mid-Ohio is really a great track that incorporates everything you like in a road course. A few high speeds, one long straight, elevation changes, big transitions, etc. It will be a battle!"
Unlike the dramatic Watkins Glen crash at round five that claimed all three BimmerWorld cars, Esayian also knows success this weekend will require a cleaner execution of their game plan. "I'd start by NOT having a Wide World of Sports-type crash taking us out of the race in spectacular fashion. We are outnumbered by Acura's and Mazda's two to one so we need to qualify well and be in the game together during the race. If anyone comes under attack, we'll have to stick together; it's hard to hunt when you are being hunted from behind, but let's hope the other teams are the ones in the crosshairs."
After a herculean effort from the BimmerWorld technicians to resurrect three damaged cars in record time, Clay's proud of the work his team has put in to keep their season and goals of victory moving forward without interruption. "Certainly everyone wants a strong finish to the year, and now more than ever I think. Due to a monumental effort from our crew, the cars are ready and we went testing last week with two of them. I think a lot of people will be surprised when they see us there at full strength and the cars looking no worse for wear, and that's all thanks to our crew and partners. We're all ready to go racing again."
Visit the link to watch exclusive footage of BimmerWorld's in-car footage from their win at Mid-Ohio, the race broadcast, qualifying laps, and other unique content on the BimmerWorld TV Channel.