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The Bimmerworld team out of Radford Virginia was planning on elevating their game and becoming serious competitors in the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Series after their rookie season in 2003. James Clay of Blacksburg VA and Matt Richmond of Mooresville NC return and the team added rookie driver Seth Thomas of Cumming GA to the roster for a full out assault on the WCTC competition.

But their sophomore season got off to a slow start at the seasons opener at Sebring as Thomas, Clay and Richmond finished 23rd, 28th and 29th in that order with the BMWs of Clay and Richmond both suffering mechanical problems and not finishing.

"We just didn't have our three new cars together before the race," Bimmerworld's James Clay said. "We didn't even get the cars onto the track until the second practice session for two of the cars and qualifying for the 3rd car."

Matt Richmond, who started the Sebring race in 35th position with no qualifying time, did win the B&M Hole-Shot Award for improving 10 positions at the start of the race.

"The cars had issues and we didn't get done all that needed to be done on the cars for them to be competitive at Sebring," said Clay candidly. "I started ordering parts for the cars last November and I guess that wasn't early enough!"

What was different at Road Atlanta?

"The difference for Atlanta was that we had had test time and we were ready," James replied. "The BMW is not a car we are unfamiliar with so we know how to make them work."

And given the proper time the Bimmerworld team has definitely started to get their 325s working but Clay wasn't about to get complacent about their 2-3-4 finish at the Drift Atlanta Invitational saying, "Pierre (Kleinubing) was going as fast as he needed to win the race. We will have to do better next time against a full field."

And even though James and Pierre had lap times some two to 2.5 seconds faster that last season's best times at Road Atlanta he indicated that, "I don't think that those times will hold up. We will have to be about a second to 1.5 seconds faster to be near the front."

"We went into this year with kind of high expectations," Clay said. "After Sebring we are a little behind so we have a lot of catching up to do. We have done a ton of research and development on these cars and I think we are getting up to speed with our cars."

When asked about the qualifying race format at Drift Atlanta James Clay said that the qualifying race was fun but with reservations saying, "It was fun for a non-pressure fun weekend but I wouldn't like to see qualifying races for a points race. There would be too much risk."

"I would like to see the series try that top ten shoot out again," said Clay. "But after Pierre's roll over at VIR I guess they (SCCA Pro Racing) feel that that is also too risky!"

James wanted to mention the hard work that Bimmerworld's crew chief Jason Marks has done to get their cars going this year. He also gave credit to Jim Thompson of Sunbelt Performance for building the engines.

Bimmerworld is also working with Ground Control, and has for a few seasons, to develop their suspension package and make their BMW 325s handle well and have been working with Hawk and StopTech to develop their braking systems.

Bimmerworld has continued to test their cars so it will be interesting to see how they fare when the SPEED World Challenge Series comes to Lime Rock for Round 2. I don't think that they are really totally satisfied with how they ran at Road Atlanta in April so don't count these guys out just yet!

RealTime's Pierre Kleinubing shares his thoughts on Road Atlanta

Not many of the top WCTC teams and drivers chose to participate in the non-points race at Road Atlanta but Pierre Kleinubing and RealTime Racing made a last minute decision to bring down one of their potent Acura RSX coupes and dash for the cash.

While he couldn't say other teams didn't make the trip to Drift Atlanta as Pierre put it, "We could not refuse a chance to go get $10,000!"

Why the RSX and not his new TSX?

"I chose the Acura RSX because after testing both cars at Blackhawk Farms I felt the RSX was ready to go and the TSX still need more work," Kleinubing answered. "I had both cars in Atlanta, but kept the decision I had made after the test and I'm sure now that it was the right one."

As to which Acura will see Pierre in its driver's seat he felt strongly that he would be back in the RealTime A-SPEC TSX for round 2 at Lime Rock.

"I'll test the TSX again for a few days and I'm sure that the RealTime guys will get it handling as well and hopefully even better than the RSX," Kleinubing said.

Pierre was impressed with the Formula D or drifting competition saying, "I got a chance to watch it on Saturday. I liked a lot. I'm in the works of getting a car for myself. I drove a drifting car about a month ago and it was a blast!"

"The whole RealTime crew deserves a big thumbs-up for this race, Kleinubing concluded. "They worked really hard on getting the RSX the way I like it. Another great performance by RealTime! Hopefully we'll be able to do the same with the TSX soon."

Personally I wouldn't bet against that.

Miscellaneous Twisty Bytes

Matt Richmond, driver of the #37 Bimmerworld BMW 325 has an interesting comment in his bio where he states that "his favorite track is the one he is at that weekend".

You have to love that attitude in a racer!

WCTC competitor Scott Bradley who can be found in the Circuit City Mazda Protégé out of the Promotive Team did try his hand at both the Invitational and the drifting competition in a Mazda Miata.

Scott didn't fare as well as expected in the Touring Car event due to oil cooler problems, as in he didn't have one in the car for the race, which created some temperature problems so Bradley had to settle for 10th place in the feature race.

In the drifting event Scott said it felt a bit strange trying to make the car misbehave when all of his racer instincts told him to try to make the car straighten out but he reported that, "Drifting is a blast" and "I can't wait to do it again."

We had better watch that #13 Mazda Protégé at Lime Rock for some sideways driving. You know, how are you gonna keep him down on the farm, and all of that!

Ken Dobson, of Sonoma, Calif., hasn't been sitting around as he won Round 3 and finished an extremely close second in Round 4 of the Pacific Tour of the Mazdaspeed Miata Cup Presented by Hankook at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Justin Hall of Davis CA won the round 4 event as Bobby Carter who spent some quality WCTC time in one of Bob Stretch's Wheels America BMWs finished on the podium in both races as well.

If you want to send a note about any of this I can be reached at [email protected]; but be forewarned, we may use your letter in an upcoming article.
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