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Michelin Pilot Challenge

Clay (BimmerWorld): GT4 the “Next Step” in Racing

BimmerWorld Racing’s James Clay says the relative cost of GT4 encouraged his GS return…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

BimmerWorld Racing owner/driver James Clay says the cost-effective nature of GT4 made the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class an obvious destination for his team.

The Dublin, Va.-based operation will field one BMW M4 GT4 in GS for Clay and co-driver Tyler Cooke alongside its ST class BMW 328i this season.

The team has been a longtime entrant in ST, and while BimmerWorld did make a short-lived foray into GS in 2011, Clay said the financial realities are much more realistic this time around.

“We’ve been in GS before for one year in 2011, but the budget just got out of control very quickly,” Clay told Sportscar365.

“I think everyone in the field realized that and suddenly we went from ten BMWs to two or three BMWs.

“But with the new GT4 platform, both the development costs are controlled and the development cap as far as what we can spend.

“When I look at our ST program specifically, I have a development program that spends two to three hundred thousand dollars a year on driveline, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense when I can spend less money on a GS car.

“Plus we’re seeing great racing there right now. The GS class with the GT4 cars is really big this year, and I think we’ll see the same for TCR as other manufacturers get their cars out here.

“For us, it’s a chance to work more closely with BMW, race an ‘M’ product, and work with the technology that our customers are working with in street versions.

“That’s what we’ve got: we’ve got a serious street car that’s race prepared. It’s a different way to meld with new technology.”

Clay said he’s been impressed with the transformation of the GS class in the last year with its cost-capped formula and an influx of impressive cars.

“It was eye opening last year when all of a sudden we had McLarens in the paddock,” he said.

“That was a big thing, and just to see so many different types of cars this year, I think it’s the next step in racing.

“When you race at this level that’s always the trick: being able to define a car and a class where the definition of the class itself defines the budget.

“As competitors and racers, as much as we complain about spending money, the next day we’re trying to figure out what advantage we can buy by spending money.

“We’ll spend ourselves into oblivion. Hopefully this class and the way it’s structured will prevent us from doing that.”

After testing the new BMW GT4 at Daytona during the Roar Before the 24, Clay said he left the track optimistic that the car was ready to contend for a class championship.

“It’s a solid piece and it’s well put together,” he said. “We’ve been really happy with the way it works.

“We’re progressing every session and we’re happy with where we’re going. I think we have the tools to do the job and that’s the most important piece.

“We’re looking at this not just for Daytona. We wish we had a little more speed on the banking, but this is an abnormal track and when I look at the car as it applies to a ten race championship, I think we’re going to have a good tool to get the job done.”

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based broadcaster and reporter. In addition to his work covering primarily domestic sports car racing for Sportscar365, he is the lead announcer for SRO America's TV coverage as well as a pit reporter for IndyCar Radio. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.


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