TEAM NEWS: Joey Hand Joins BimmerWorld For Remainder Of 2007 Season

Photo Courtesy ~ BimmerWorldAmerican Le Mans Star Returns To His BMW Roots; Joins SPEED Touring Car Series Starting at Mid-Ohio this weekend

In a bid to demonstrate the strength and development of the BimmerWorld-built BMW E90's racing in the SPEED World Challenge series, BimmerWorld owner and driver James Clay announced the addition of former BMW North America factory racer Joey Hand to his team for the final four races of the 2007 SPEED Touring Car season, starting with the next round held at the Mid-Ohio track, July 20-22.

Clay, opting to put Hand in the #37 BimmerWorld car while he sits out the round to concentrate on the completion of his new #36 BMW E90, is excited to show the drivers and teams in the series how competitive BimmerWorld's Seth Thomas in the #38 and Hand in the #37 can be. “2007 has been a season of bad luck so far for us. If we are going to play the odds, then I have decided to run an additional car to increase our chances at finishing the season strongly. Joey is one of the best BMW drivers in the world; we worked well together when I was in charge of a BMW North America Diesel race car Joey drove, so he was a logical choice for the #37 car.”

With Joey Hand’s deal already in place, and only eight days to prep all three BimmerWorld cars for Mid-Ohio, including the lengthy upgrade to the teams new dry sump oiling systems, James Clay will be forced to leave his helmet behind, and just wear his owner’s hat this weekend. “We have been fighting an engine oiling issue this year and have had a couple of mechanical issues in the last two events that hurt our results. After Toronto, we made the decision to go to a dry sump system to solve the problem for good and it is a bit of a rush to change over all the cars before Ohio and we will not have the third converted; our crew is already working flat out as it is. Having already made the commitment with Joey, he will be in the car and I will be in the new third car for Mosport when our dry sump oiling systems are finished for all three BimmerWorld E90’s. Mosport can’t come soon enough for me…”

With the team expanding to three cars for the final three races, Clay's even more excited to show what the Thomas/Hand/Clay driving trio can deliver as the season comes to a close. “I expect big things. The cars have been fast and our only mechanical issue is now addressed, so it is just a matter of having a few things go our way. It will be nice to have a very solid three car team again. With Joey's technical and setup expertise, we should finish out the season very strong and make a few visits to the winner's circle!”

With Hand's excitement of returning to a fast BMW race car, surprisingly, the open-wheel, GT, and prototype veteran will be making his first foray into the World Challenge series. It's something Joey's been waiting for the right competitive opportunity to come together--with BimmerWorld, a perfect situation arose that he had to accept. “James and I have been talking about working together for a while, but our schedules never allow it. With these last four ALMS races partnered with the SPEED World Challenge series, the scheduling part took care of itself. As James mentioned, we clicked working together before, and I think that when all’s said and done, we both just want to win.”

Hand’s unique positioning in the BMW racing community as a factory driver, and as someone that’s demonstrated an ability to climb into any new car and be on the pace immediately are two areas he knows he’s expected to bring to his new BimmerWorld E90 race car. “I’ve turned a lot of BMW wheels, both as a factory driver and for privateers; while I have limited experience in the new E90 chassis James is developing, I’ve found that most BMW’s have similar handling, setup, and driving traits. Being able to climb into the BimmerWorld car and step on it right away is part of what James expects. I’d like to think I’m also known for making the cars I drive better through testing and improving the setup. I’m excited to work with Seth and James on this as a team.”

New to the World Challenge series, Hand relishes the opportunity to stay in the driver’s seat for the entire race—something he can’t do in the other series he competes in. “I love the sprint race format in World Challenge; In the American Le Mans series we have to do driver changes and share the driving duties. Here, I can give it my all for fifty minutes straight. I’m used to the sprint race format and standing starts from my years in Karting and in Formula Atlantic, so it will be a welcomed return to what I love.”

Hand will also have the challenge of pulling double duty in the final four races as he will compete in both the SPEED TC with BimmerWorld and in the GT2 category of the American Le Mans series. Having made a career driving many different types of cars, Hand doesn't see an issue adapting from his ALMS car to his BimmerWorld Touring Car, and vice versa. “I’m not concerned about hopping back and forth between cars, but it will be a little bit dicey with limited time between ALMS and World Challenge sessions. My co-driver in the ALMS series won’t be at Mid-Ohio until Saturday, which means I’ll be doing all the test driving there myself, and then doing the World Challenge test sessions. I’ll certainly be earning my keep this weekend...”

BimmerWorld driver Seth Thomas has delivered the team’s best qualifying and race performance so far this year, and sees the addition of Joey Hand to BimmerWorld as nothing but a boost to his and the team’s chances for success. “Having a great driver like Joey joining forces with us will be nothing but a win for BimmerWorld and BMW. Joey will definitely feel at home with the BimmerWorld team and the BMW E90—it’s a great car and I can’t wait for us to start working together. I think Joey joining the team starting at Mid Ohio will bring us the one extra step we need in the program to bring us to the top.”


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