|The No. 79 BMW M3 of James Clay and Seth Thomas was fast on new tires, but as grip waned, the duo fell back to 16th.
After being hit by a competitor, the No. 78 Bizrate BMW M3 loses eight laps while being repaired by the BimmerWorld crew, resulting in a finish of 23rd in class.
No. 79 BMW M3 entry featured a brand-new Brakleen wrap for the event.
Barber Motorsports Park
4/8 - 4/9
Virginia International Raceway
5/13 - 5/14
Lime Rock Park
5/27 - 5/28
Watkins Glen International
6/3 - 6/4
6/24 - 6/25
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
7/8 - 7/9
New Jersey Motorsports Park
7/23 - 7/24
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
9/16 - 9/17
3/12, 1:00 PM ET
Our Facebook Page
The Homestead Round Two race was difficult for the BimmerWorld team but progress in the development of the team's new-for-2011 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport (GS) BMW M3s wasn't expected to be easy. The duo had plenty of pace and got as high as second in the race, but a gamble on strategy failed to pay off for one car while the other was hit from behind for the second consecutive race.
As team owner/driver James Clay explains, Homestead's final results don't tell the full tale of the weekend, and the progress being made by the team and drivers on the new BimmerWorld M3s has everyone feeling very optimistic about the rest of the season.
"We knew coming into this GS program that we had to play catch-up on over a year of development to other teams that aren't exactly resting on their past achievements. The BimmerWorld crew worked incredibly hard back at the shop preparing for this event, and implemented a lot of refinements and changes for Homestead. As a racer I am never happy with less than a front running car, but we are in this for the long term and we are making good progress and learning a lot. The results can't happen fast enough for me, but I am happy with the progress so far and thankful for all the hard work and dedication of the crew, engineers, and other drivers that are making this huge workload happen."
With the sheer volume of contact received by BimmerWorld's entries during the Homestead-Miami race, pit lane could have been mistaken for the team's shop in Dublin, Virginia, but as the GRAND-AM field has witnessed on more than one occasion, BimmerWorld's talented crew members are prepared to overcome adversity when called upon.
"I can't say enough about the BimmerWorld crew," Clay continued. "I know the work can seem overwhelming even to me at times, but these guys have been digging in and making it all happen. They do everything quickly and correctly, whether it's in the heat of a race or between sessions. I am lucky to be surrounded by such a great group of guys and when we achieve the results we are working for, the ones putting in all the hard work behind the scenes are the ones that deserve the glory."
The No. 79 Johnstone Supply BMW M3, sporting new Brakleen graphics from sponsor CRC Industries, of Clay and co-driver Seth Thomas scored the team's best finish of the race with a 16th-place result, and if the roll of the dice on a one-stop strategy had paid off, a top finish could have been on the cards.
"The one-stop strategy was something we hoped would pay off and when the pack pitted for tires early in the caution-filled race, I thought 'oh no - this isn't going to be pretty,'" Clay explained. "We still had tires under us, but they were nothing like the fresh rubber the rest of the GS cars had and ours started to degrade quickly after that stop. We are working hard to develop the car's speed on a very abbreviated timeline between races and during testing, but if we don't ultimately have the speed, we have to take some chances like this right now to come up with a result we are content with."
Thomas says he is encouraged by how fast the BimmerWorld BMW M3s have been in their first two races, and expects more performance to come as the brand-new vehicles are developed.
"Our M3s are really competitive this early in the season, but in GS, it's all about finding the tiny differences that will give you a fraction of time here or there each lap. We have a lot to accomplish in very little time. When we first raced the new E90-chassis BMW 328i, it took time to make it a winner. It's that way for every car. We're fast, the M3s look great--especially with the Brakleen wrap on our No. 79 car and the new unitedBMWonline.com logos. We just have to be patient and stay focused."
Securing another top 6 result for the No. 78 Bizrate.com-sponsored BimmerWorld M3 looked probable, but like the season opener at Daytona, the driving combination of Bob Michaelian and Ken Wilden were slowed when the back of their M3 was used as a brake by one of their competitors.
"Unfortunately we got hit from behind again this weekend which was disappointing," Michaelian said. "But the crew did a stellar job in helping us get back on track and enable us to salvage some points. It's a long season, and we certainly were hoping to avoid incidents like these, but we have a lot of confidence in the progress we are making with the car. I can't say enough about James and the entire BimmerWorld team. They have been amazing to work with. Their dedication and drive to succeed in this super competitive environment gives me a lot of confidence we will be seeing the Bizrate.com BimmerWorld M3 on the podium very quickly."
2009 GRAND-AM GS champion Wilden remains philosophical about the Homestead-Miami event, and prefers look at it as just a bump in the road towards the championship.
"We really just need to continue on our course and to remain calm. It seems a number of teams are experiencing bad finishes so we are hopeful that we will gain ground over the rest of the year. There is pressure on us at every event to perform as well as we can, and that doesn't change if we have a good or a bad result."
With one month to the next race at Barber Motorsports Park, the furious pace of R&D will continue at BimmerWorld's facility. Clay highlighted some of the components on the BimmerWorld M3s that are exceeding expectations, and plans to keep improving other aspects of the car to rebound at Round 3.
"Our Performance Friction brake package is the shining feature of the GS cars at this point. We are still working on suspension setup and power delivery, but in the meantime, we can make up some lost ground in the braking zones. The Red Line fluids are also being put to some hard work at this point as we nail down some long-run cooling issues, but they are delivering the protection to keep us in the race even in this strenuous environment. I expect our partner's products to continue to shine at Barber in April."
Watch the Homestead-Miami race on March 19th at 2 p.m. ET on SPEED, and follow BimmerWorld's progress at www.BimmerWorldRacing.com as they prepare for the next race, the Barber 200, in Montgomery, Alabama, the weekend of April 7-9.
Press Release from Bimmerworld. More information can be found on their official website: http://bimmerworldracing.com/team.php