Stevan McAleer is back with Classic BMW this year and is looking to build on the strong foundation laid in 2018.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, McAleer fills us in on getting to return to the team that he helped win the BMW Sport Trophy for best customer team worldwide, what makes the SprintX format so valuable, his expectations for the season, and more.
How did your deal to compete in Pirelli GT4 America come together?
“Two of my teammates, Justin Raphael and Chris Omacht, I’ve been been coaching them for years. They loved their time with Classic BMW last year and we got a lot of results.
“It was a lot of fun last year, a lot of learning. I’m really excited to be back. I wouldn’t say the deal was put together months ago, it’s been in the works, but in the last week or so we got it confirmed.
“We’re super excited to be back with Justin, and I think the GT4 East schedule with the tracks on it is really going to favor the BMW M4 GT4. I’m quietly confident.
“I’d like to think that Justin and myself can fight for an overall championship out of the box.”
How exciting is it to enter the season with those kind of expectations?
“The funny thing is, I always go in with that expectation that we have a shot at winning races and the championship. Really every year that has been proven.
“When we do get the right luck and we’re in the right spot at the right time, we have the pace. Last year we had the podium at COTA on the opening event and the other races it was a combination of some car troubles and my fairly major mistake at Lime Rock that damaged the car.
“That put us out of action for a race. Justin was shoved off the track at Utah, too, and in this series with so many cars and as competitive as it is, you just can’t afford to have DNFs like that.
“We’re going to go in and try to be on the pace. Justin has much more time in the car so he’s going to be up to speed, so I’m loving life.
“I get to play with a BMW M4 which is a lot of fun to drive, and I’m very excited to have Mark Manning back as an engineer. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”
How much more comfortable with the M4 are you this year?
“The last race that we drove was Utah. That’s the last time I drove the car. But I’ll be honest, I loved the car. For the GT4 platform it was an easy car to drive and I’m confident that there’s a little more time in me.
“We should be good come rain or shine, I don’t care if it’s dry or wet, that car performs as good in both.”
How much do you benefit from getting to share the car with the driver you’re coaching?
“That’s one of the things I really enjoy. I’ve been working with Justin and Chris for many years and it’s so nice to be able to go out and drive the car to give them information, data, and video.
“The part that I love is that they get to the point where they’re doing such a good job that there’s parts on the track that I can learn from them. The sharing of the car is amazing. This is Justin’s deal and I’m very honored to be a part of it.
“I know they bring me in as the shoe to try to go fast and get results, but in reality this is their deal. The excitement that I saw in Justin’s face when we were on the podium at COTA, it was what made it all worthwhile.
“I could send you a five second clip of him coming into the podium in the car and it sounds like a five year old kid in the car screaming!
“It’s amazing. That was a big moment in Justin’s racing career and I’m hoping to share many more with him.”
What does it mean to be a part of the BMW Sports Trophy winning team?
“I loved joining the guys with Classic BMW. I didn’t know them at all, the dealership, not even a single crew guy. We all get on great. They work very hard as a team and obviously the efforts showed at the end of the year.
“And their TC program, they were killing it. That was a a huge program for those guys. It’s a great team and I’m excited to be back.
“We all learned lots of stuff last year from the way the car behaved to the tracks to the strengths and weaknesses so I think we’re going to be a fairly strong team this year to be fast right out of the box.”