Home Track, Atmosphere Could Be Winning Combination For Co-Drivers Clay and Cooke at VIR
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Heading into the eighth of 10 races of the 2018 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season, the Grand Sport (GS) class standings feature four teams within 10 points of each other for the championship.

Of those four teams, three have won races so far this year. The only team yet to stand atop the podium? The No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4 of James Clay and Tyler Cooke.

However, this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway could be the place where the No. 82 finally gets its turn in the spotlight. In 2017, Clay – BimmerWorld’s team owner – put his car on pole for the two-hour Biscuitville Grand Prix and with Cooke, the duo landed a runner-up result.

Not a bad finish for the hometown team based in Dublin, Virginia. This time around, they’re looking for one position better to get that crucial edge in the standings.

“It’s one of the coolest races because we have a lot of people come out,” Cooke explained. “We end up doing a roast, we have a whole dinner after the race and it’s a fun atmosphere. Last year when we got second, the entire fan crew from BimmerWorld went crazy over it. It was really awesome to get second and hopefully we can get a win this year.”

In fact, it’s the atmosphere and the fans at VIR that Cooke loves most about the track.

“The reason I love VIR is the fans,” Cooke said. “I usually get to camp in the middle of the fan zones and its actually nice getting to know the fans, talk to them, become buddies with them. A couple of fans I camped with last year, we actually still talk today and they’ve been following my racing career.

“The people and the brains behind the track are also phenomenal people. I talk to them year in, year out about how the track is going. They’re really great people that love motorsports.”

It’s been an unexpected year for the BimmerWorld GS team, which moved up to the top-tier class this season after contesting the last several seasons in ST. The team still fields an ST car, the No. 81 BMW 328i driven by Devin Jones and Nick Galante, which leads the class championship by 11 points after scoring three wins so far in 2018.

As for the GS squad, jumping into a new class with a new car has yet to slow them down. The team took three podiums in the first four races of the season and has only one finish outside the top 10 all season – 11th at Sebring in March. It’s an impressive statistic given the average car count of the class so far this year is 24.

“When James and I came into this year, we expected to do well but not as well as we’re doing right now,” Cooke said. “We definitely need a win to really get ahead of this points championship. Running fourth right now is actually a pretty good thing.”

To make the stakes even higher, the top four teams in the GS standings all run with different manufacturers – Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, Ford and BMW – and the team that comes out on top will carry the bragging rights throughout 2019.

“BMW has provided an amazing car, amazing support, and the team has done an amazing job,” said Cooke. “We’ve had good cars race in, race out and I can’t thank BMW Motorsports enough and BimmerWorld enough. Just hopefully we can get a win here soon.”

The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge first takes to the track on Friday, August 17 for three practice sessions before qualifying in the evening. The Biscuitville Grand Prix is set for Saturday, August 18 at 2:15 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on IMSA.tv.

For fans onsite, a pre-race grid walk will be available to take pictures with the cars and meet the drivers. Fans following the action on social media can stay updated using the hashtag #CTSC.