BimmerWorld Racing team owner/driver James Clay of Blacksburg, Va. qualified the No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4 in sixth place in the GS class with a time of 1:54.528. He had a masterful race start and immediately jumped up to third place on the first lap.
Starting the race under the threat of rain, the skies opened up shortly after the fourth lap of the two-hour, 59-lap race, as rain came down over much of the 17-turn circuit. By the fifth lap, it was raining heavily and many competitors pitted for rain tires; however, a number of drivers elected to stay out a bit longer to see if the rain would subside.
On lap 21, 45 minutes into the two-hour race, Clay felt a vibration and had problems while braking and pitted with three rolling wheels, with the forth being dragged as a result of sheared wheel studs. Although they knew their chance for victory had eluded them, points towards the championship were still an important factor, so the BimmerWorld crew went to work making the needed repairs to get the BMW M4 GT4 back on track. On lap 39, 18 laps after they pitted, Tyler Cooke, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., took the car back on track. Even though they weren’t able to run at full race speeds, Cooke nursed the injured car for the balance of the race and eventually crossed the finish line 19th in the GS class
James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., team owner and driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“It was a great start. A great first turn, then the weather started coming and we navigated through that, fell back, and it just got slick as ice out there. Five miles per hour and you were just pirouetting off track. We survived, I’d say there’s a good bit of luck in there, but we made it through all that running strong. The track was drying up. Everything was starting to go our way. We played our strategy. We kept the slick Continentals on the car and all of a sudden, I got a little bit of a vibration. Then, braking into turn ten I said, ‘Oh man, we’ve got a real problem. I need to come in’ and we sheared some wheel studs so I brought it in on three wheels/tires. That wasn’t an easy repair, so we were stuck in the pits a while, watching the cars go by and watching our championship go with it. We got back out, but it cost us dearly. Fingers crossed for a win at Laguna Seca.”
Tyler Cooke, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., driver, No. 82 OPTIMA Batteries BMW M4 GT4:
“Unfortunately, James had a good stint going in, but we broke some wheel studs and the wheel just started flopping its way off. The guys worked for thirty-eight minutes on pit row and got it back. It was tough because we had a car that could have run up front. If this was our bad race of the year, we’ll take it and salvage something out of it, which we did. We noticed that there was something wrong with the car throughout the race. I ran slow laps and wanted to bring the car home. And at least we got points out of today, and that’s the main thing we want to take away. James drove a great stint. I thought we were going to have an amazing race with how he was driving, and it just didn’t play into our favor. The BMW was pretty solid throughout the rain. James stayed on dry tires the whole time, and he was probably the second fastest car on track besides the McLaren, but overall his stint was amazing. I can’t say much about mine because I was just on cruise control trying to get the car back home, but it should have been a great weekend.”