The BimmerWorld Racing team arrived ready to take on the field in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (ICTSC) at the 4.08-mile Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, but they didn’t have the result they wanted or expected in the heartland of America this weekend.
In Friday morning’s first ICTSC practice session, Kauffman experienced an off-track excursion causing much damage to the No. 81 BimmerWorld BMW 328i. Although the team worked hard to make repairs, they eventually determined that it could not be safely repaired at the track for further competition, so it was relegated to the transporter to return to the Dublin, Va. shop for major repairs after the race.
Tyler Cooke qualified the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries entry on the front row to start from the second grid position in the Sport Touring (ST) class. After a good start, Cooke was leading when the first of four caution flags were thrown. He led for several laps after the race returned to green-flag conditions until a battle with two Hondas made him forfeit his lead. He continued to race in second place in class before pitting on Lap 16 under the second caution for teammate James Clay to take the wheel.
Clay returned to the track in 11th position until the track went green on Lap 23. He had a great restart and jumped up to sixth position at nearly the halfway point of the race. With less than an hour remaining and a fourth full-course caution, James was leading in the No. 84 BMW 328i before a pit shuffle pushed him up into the top five.
Hard racing and a waning car saw the new F30 chassis with the 2-liter, N20 turbocharged engine fade back into the field as its pace diminished against the challenging 34-car ICTSC field. In the end, the No. 84 car finished 15th in the ST class and 22nd overall in the two hour and 30-minute race.
James Clay, Team owner and driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It was unfortunate that the No. 81 car had an accident in practice. It’s dangerous sometimes, and that happens. I sure wish those guys would have been able to race with us, but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
As far as my race, it’s kind of the same story we’ve seen all year. We know the car is fast. We know we can put it at the front in qualifying. We know with the fuel load we have, the weight of the car, and the turbo motor, we get heat soak, and we run out of car. It happened today. I predicted it before the race and sure enough, that’s what happened. We can’t run a pace we have to run and keep the car under us. When you don’t have a car under you to drive, you have no choice but to go backwards.”
Tyler Cooke, driver, No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i (F30 chassis):
“It’s tough. We always have a fast car in the beginning, but somehow it’s not there at the end. It’s no fault of the team – no fault of anybody. It’s just frustrating because we know we have the speed.”
The television broadcast will be aired on FOX Sports 1 on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, Aug. 14 at 11 AM EDT.
The next race, Round 8 of the Continental Tire Challenge, will be held at Virginia International Raceway as part of the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR on Saturday, August 27.