Coming off a huge win at Barber Motorsports Park we were able to sit down with James Clay, Team Principal/Drive, of BimmerWorld Racing for an exciting interview.
As of right now their 3 BMW 328s are being prepped for their next race in Homestead-Miami but James took a little time out of his busy schedule to give us some insight into the 2012 season, the upcoming season and what it feels like to win a race.
James Clay: I think we are all really happy to be back where we belong: on the podium. Last year was really trying as we developed the new M3 cars and were faced with much stiffer ST competition as well. We came into the series with a lot of E90 knowledge and development and had a great 2010. But as the field steps up their game, we had to do a lot more work to find the very small gains that our rules allow. This winter was four straight months of work and on the other side of it, it is all paying off.
BMWBLOG: Barber is a tough track and race on the calender that usually ends up claiming quite a few racers. What was the strategy going into race day and how was the team able to stay out of so much trouble?
James Clay: Barber is a tough track at the best of times, but when close to 80 cars are stuffed onto it for one race, it can be and was quite a mess. The GS cars are the first to get the green in our split start format and in two attempts, they had wrecked enough cars to bring out the yellows almost immediately. In fact, on the second one the ST field didn’t even start racing. We had all seen enough carnage by the time that mess was cleaned up that I think most people took a little more cautious approach as the real racing began.
BMWBLOG: The race itself took over 30 minutes to actually get rolling under green flag conditions. What did you and the other drivers do during this time? Speaking of the trouble on track what does the radio communication look like when the green flag drops and is quickly yellow flagged?
James Clay: Well, we find ways to keep occupied. Work comes first and certainly there is a lot of communication needed so everyone can get through the mess cleanly. After that, it is an analysis of the situation, time that will be spent cleaning it up, when we will go green again, and how pit and race strategies should adapt to meet the situation. Then apparently we have a brief period to goof off before our race engineers slap us on the hands for chattering. Racing isn’t always a head-down activity and as long as it falls between critical points and we are all doing what we need to do, we take the opportunity to enjoy it a little.
BMWBLOG: The schedule has been changed this year from Daytona to Barber to Miami instead of the Rovals back to back. Does this cause any extra difficulty in terms of car setup for the team?
James Clay: Not really. We have a different setup for almost every track we go to, so changing setups is a standard part of the operation. It does mean that we have to change mindsets though, which is a little tougher. Rovals with so much time on the oval like Daytona and the Homestead pro configuration are a bit different to drive and I think as road racers we are all somewhat happy to get back to business as usual after those events are done. But Barber is also a little bit of an oddball, on the opposite extreme of the fast, flowing Daytona, so it is still a matter of being done with these three races.
BMWBLOG: After Miami the series will be running many classic road courses but in the middle of those is an interesting and new stop for 2012. Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will make a stop along with Grand-Am Rolex in Indy. The addition of NASCAR makes this stop quite a large scale race weekend for the fans. The schedule is interesting when looking at it from a participants point of view as BimmerWorld will be able to unload earlier in the week but because of NASCAR and Nationwide activities you qualify and race same day with no practice sessions. What does this mean for the team and cars? There is a 2-day test earlier in the month and with that test are there steps the team takes to make sure the car is ready straight from the hauler to the qualifying session after the test days?
James Clay: Indy will be a matter of success through preparation for our series, I think. With one day to get all on-track activities completed, any hiccup in the performance of the cars will cost precious track time. The 2-day test gives everyone a chance to dial in the general setup for the track and the drivers to learn it, so that is an important piece in the preparation for the race. I think it will be an awesome event for both teams and fans, but the preparation required is tremendous and while I know we will be on it, at this point I am more focused on being in a good position after the rest of the races when we come into that event.
Also, I would like to add that CRC Industries, manufacturer of Brakleen and one of our team sponsors, will be giving away a trip to the Indy weekend including VIP tickets and hospitality, hotels, etc. for the full event. You can sign up on their Facebook page and it is an awesome offer!
BMWBLOG: 2012 should be an exciting rest of the season but we would like to ask a final question about next year. BimmerWorld is known for running touring cars from their World Challenge days and your first season of ST turned in great results. The team has re-focused on ST for 2012 with the E90 chassis and the results and performance have been very good! The E90 has reached the end of it’s production life at this point and replaced by the F30. Can you shine some light on where this puts BimmerWorld in terms of racing? Is the E90 legal for racing in ST for 2013? If not can you get a waiver to get an extra season? Or can we all be excited to see a turbo BMW 328i mixing it up across the US in 2013?
James Clay: The E90 will be pro-eligible for 5 years after production ends, which for the E9X can likely be extended to 2018. Certainly the F30 is the next in line and looks like a great car, but I would be a rich man if I could predict the future, and a dumb one if I told everything I know about it. We will have to wait and see!
BMWBLOG: Thanks again for your time and a final congrats! We wish you luck and we’ll see you again at each stop this year!
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