TEAM NEWS: BimmerWorld: Frustration Follows Team From Lime Rock to Watkins Glen

Photo by John Thawley BWR’s outright pace and proven ability still can’t overcome on-track attacks and adversity


Dublin, VA

Watkins Glen confirmed two things about the BimmerWorld BMW E90’s: the cars are ready to challenge for wins with less than a year of development under them, and that if not for the black cloud that’s been following the team for the past few weeks, the team’s fortunes and finishing positions would be more to their liking.

Team owner James Clay has been trying to keep a positive outlook after another rough weekend behind the wheel. “The cars were fast and I felt great about the racing. I was 5th fast in Friday practice, so I was hoping to qualify in the area, if not better. In race 1 qualifying, I made 3 mistakes on my fast lap with the good tires under me, and it cost us on the stopwatch. The following morning, the track was much faster, but due to some miscommunications on the radio, I thought I had cruised to 3rd on the grid. When I realized that I was not even in the top 10, I went back out on track and got to work but the tires didn't have the same grip in them as when I first went out; the best I could manage was 15th for the second race.”

Things didn’t get easier in the races. “The first race was not at all what I expected from the first race of a two race weekend. I had a rough launch and that moved me back in the order--I had a great car though, and worked my way up nicely. I was in a great battle with Chip Herr for a bit, but after getting around him, I was stuck for a few laps between a very wide BMW until the double yellow. At the drop of the green, I had an excellent restart from my 10th position to move into about 6th place, but was shuffled back slightly in the heavy traffic. The same BMW came from behind to execute a pass on the inside coming on to the front straight. After being pushed off track toward the wall as we entered the straight, I pushed back to avoid contact with the immovable barrier, which got both cars out of shape, but my car was mostly undamaged. On the last lap of the race, another car locked up the brakes and slid into me, spinning both cars and sending me to the back of the pack. I’m tired of being on the receiving end of such over aggression.”

If Clay’s first race was a mix of frustration and disappointment, his hopes to right to wrongs of that event in the second SPEED TC race on Sunday. He’d never get the chance. “I didn’t race the second race due to a lethal noise that popped up last minute from my engine. It was obvious that it would not last the race. If I could rewind the tape on the weekend and start over again, I would. All I can do is put Watkins behind me and start fresh at (the next race at) Toronto.”

The greatest disappointment from the poor luck over the last few races has been more about lost opportunities to deliver the top results the BimmerWorld BMW E90’s are capable of. “That’s the problem; we’ve shown have fast our cars are and how much they’ve moved forward in the field. If it wasn’t for a lot of silly driving we’ve been on the receiving end of, and some electrical and mechanical issues, we’d be right there in the championship. We’re overcoming the car development issues—that’s the best we can do to turn the tides in our favor,” said Clay.

BimmerWorld BMW E90 #38 driver Seth Thomas must have felt he and James had targets on their backs at The Glen.

“I don't know what the deal is but I can't buy a break this year. Qualifying for the first race went really well; I qualified 7th, right behind Charles Espenlaub. The lap was a pretty good one and well representative of the speed of the E90. I knew where some of the time difference was for qualifying the next morning. The next morning came and I found the speed I was missing for the first qualifying. I went 2.3 seconds faster than the previous day! When I saw a 2:04.448 pop up on the Motec dash I thought that was the time needed for pole or close to it. Right after that I found out on the radio it was only good for 10th on the grid. This series is really strong in 2007.

“The race came and I was ready to move on up as I knew I had a better car than the guys in front of me. I got a good start and made up a couple of positions there. I was battling with James Sofronas for position and had him setup coming onto the front straight when all of a sudden I had no power. The car was running but the throttle was not responding. I cycled the electrical system to get it working again only to find myself losing a couple of spots. I caught up to PD (Peter Cunningham) entering the toe of the boot section of the track when I made a mistake coming in contact with one of the walls. With very little body damage I was able to continue but part of the suspension had broken. I found myself limping back to the pits with my day finished.

“Race two wasn't much better. I had a great start picking up two positions before turn 1 only to be hit while going in a straight line by the car I had just passed. His right front tire came in contact with my left rear causing my tire to go flat. I was the forced to drive the first lap of the race with a massively oversteering car. Once again the BimmerWorld crew did amazing work in getting me a new wheel and tire on the car, and back out on track in record time. I was then able to continue on hoping for a double yellow to help me catch the field, but it never came. The car was amazing though as I was able to turn lap times with the leaders to show the potential of the BimmerWorld E90. With a few laps to go I was able to catch the back of the field to make up a couple of spots.

“Basically this was not a great weekend for our team. Both cars had problems with contact with other cars in both races. We came there well prepared only to come away wanting a lot more out it. We were high in the points standing only come away with nothing to show and further back. This is not what the cars are capable of; this is not what the crew deserves for all the hard work they have put in. We’re all tired of having bad luck and dumb luck bite us when we are performing well. The BimmerWorld E90 is a great car that will win this year; we will get out of this slump and get back to the good start we had this year.”

The clouds have darkened a bit, but wishes for better fortunes still motivate the team to fight through the frustration. The streets of Toronto await BimmerWorld’s assault.

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