TEAM NEWS: BimmerWorld: Lime Rock Leaves Clay and Thomas Aiming for Better Fortunes

Photo by John Thawley 16th and 22nd place finishes re-focus the team to deliver at the next TC round in June

5/30/07 Dublin, VA High hopes were dashed for the BimmerWorld SPEED World Challenge Touring Car team as over aggressive driving by others and transmission maladies put and end to a promising Memorial Day race in Connecticut.

Seth Thomas carried the team’s good fortunes up to the race, placing the BimmerWorld BMW E90 in 6th place. “Overall the weekend really was a success as the E90 was once again fast at a track that requires a good handling car. Unfortunately we didn't have the results we were looking for and deserved for the weekend. All weekend long we were in the top-10 fastest cars for the sessions. During qualifying I gave myself a big gap to the car in front of me only to catch him in my qualifying run halfway through the lap. I still was able to qualify the car 6th. This wasn't exactly where I want to qualify but it was up towards the front and I knew I had a lot better car than most of the guys in front of me.

Sadly, his continuing strong efforts in the SPEED TC series were undone by a rival on lap one. Uninvited contact in the race would ruin his start from the third row of the grid. “Once the race started I did improve a spot or two before the caution came out for the first time; at the restart I had a great jump on the blue car in front of me and was racing door to door with him into turns one and two. Only when we were coming out of turn two, he decided the best way he could keep me from passing was to run me off the track. I saw it coming and tried to back off to avoid the contact but he still hit me while I was in the dirt which resulted in a flat right front tire. The crew did an awesome job of getting me back into the action but I was a lap down at that point. The rest of the race was running laps and seeing how many of the leaders I could catch up to.

Quick repairs by the BimmerWorld crew and an indomitable spirit as shown by Thomas netted a ‘best we could hope for’ 16th place. Seth has been bumped down to 9th place in the driver’s championship, but expects the superior handling of his BMW E90 to help him to claw back more points and a better finish.

“Our testing at Watkins Glen testing earlier in the year delivered some really good results. I’m excited about the race there as I think this is where we can really let the E90 show its speed.”

BimmerWorld owner and driver James Clay had a weekend to forget. “As much as luck wasn’t there for us, I still really like this track. I missed the first of two sessions due to an electrical issue and I was behind the eight-ball all weekend. When I did get out for qualifying, I tried to find a spot at the back of the field to qualify and was also held up in the critical first laps. Both Seth and I let our tires cool and tried to go out to put down something faster. I was able to, but it was nowhere near enough and Seth stuck with one of his earlier laps. If not for electrical gremlins, I’m sure Seth and I would have worked in tandem towards the front.”

Missed sessions and an unrepresentative 17th starting spot didn’t diminish Clay’s resolve come race time. “The race was going great—I’d moved up from 17th to 12th in the first bunch of laps before a double yellow. Seth had his flat tire issue, but got a new tire and came back out only losing one lap. For a track like Lime Rock where we lap complete a lap in less than 60 seconds, I thought it was awesome work by our crew to get Seth back out so quickly. Our guys are the best.”

With the electrical issues sorted out, a mechanical issue would bring a premature end to Clay’s day. “Together Seth and I we were picking up positions until my car locked into 4th gear. After falling back due to my car’s limited speed on the front straight while stuck in 4th, I was out of the points and not able to really race. My only option was to retire the car.”

With the maladies and misfortunes of Lime Rock behind the BimmerWorld team, the collective focus of the drivers and crew move to the next rounds, a SPEED TC double-header at Watkins Glen, June 8th-10th.

“We are constantly working to drive the effort forward this season. We’ll have more development work implemented before The ‘Glen. We still have our 3rd car, a new and un-raced BMW E90 identical to the cars Seth and I drive, and that will likely be with us at Watkins. It is a little late to start a points race for someone in that car, so at this point in the season, we’re going to use the 3rd seat to find a teammate for 2008. I have a couple of guys we are talking to, one of which BMW fans would look forward to having back in the saddle.”

After ten days of solid racing—two weekends ago at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, and event that saw most of the team and both drivers afflicted with a nasty flu, and the tough times at Lime Rock, the BimmerWorld team is ready for some clear skies and clear track at Watkins Glen. “I’m looking forward to a great weekend, including some podium finishes and a Friday at the local dirt track!” said Clay.

Better fortunes are indeed on the horizon.

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