It’s delivery time for some IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge teams and first on that list is BimmerWorld Racing.
Last week, BMW announced the distribution of its new M4 GT4 racecars to a handful of teams throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. The new car is eligible to compete in the Continental Tire Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class in 2018 and BimmerWorld, previously a Street Tuner (ST) class team, is the first to take advantage of the new opportunity.
“A customer racing program like this is a little bit new to North America,” said James Clay, BimmerWorld team owner and driver. “In previous models it’s something that BMW has done in Europe and the rest of the world, but North America is a different corporation, so we still have to figure how to do this a little bit. Luckily, we had the (BMW) M235i Racing come (to North America) last year and so really as we prepare to bring this car in, it’s been a lot smoother and I guess in general, a fairly smooth process.”
A painless transition process is far from what Clay and the BimmerWorld team have previously dealt with. With their two BMW 328is, Clay explained that their certain type of racecar didn’t match what the factory typically supported.
“I think the biggest shift for us is to be running a true BMW product,” Clay said. “The factory support is available for this car and it never has been for anything else we’ve run because what we run is so far away from what the factory designed as a street car, and their racing versions weren’t similar at all either.”
Despite the struggles, BimmerWorld still managed to find its speed this year. Clay brought home two Motul Pole Awards and with co-driver Tyler Cooke, recorded two podiums and two additional top-10 finishes in the last five races. The team was poised for another podium at Road Atlanta to end the season, if not for being involved in a late-race incident under caution through no fault of their own.
Now with the team’s newfound support from BMW, competitors in the GS class should keep their eyes peeled for what BimmerWorld can do in 2018.
It also helps that the team got a bit of a head start.
“They actually flew the cars over and we’re getting them a little bit earlier than we had expected so that’s good,” Clay said. “We’ve got a test next week which will be our first with the new car and really it’s just a shakedown to just see what we’re working with.
“We will be at the December test (at Daytona International Speedway), I think that one’s important for us. There’s not a lot of track time…but I think it’s fairly important for IMSA to see the car and for us to discuss any impending issues so when we get back to Daytona for the Roar (Before the Rolex 24 in January), we’re 100 percent ready to go.”