James Clay and Devin Jones piloted the #82 BimmerWorld M4 GT4 to a strong second overall finish in the four-hour Michelin Pilot Challenge at Watkins Glen on Saturday. Then, Clay got on a plane to Colorado and ran another M4 GT4 in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Sunday.
The Watkins Glen race was a thriller; rain and a full-course caution to remove a wounded car arrived with just over 30 minutes remaining. Many cars went to the pits for rain tires, but the BimmerWorld team kept #82 on slicks. It was the right call. When the track went green with just twenty minutes remaining the top ten cars were running nose-to-tail. The rain tire runners quickly moved up, but as the track dried the racers on slicks took over. With Jones at the controls, the BimmerWorld car, which had led much of the way, moved up to second behind Dylan Murry in the #35 Mercedes AMG GT-4. Murry prevailed in the car that he shared with James Cox and Jeroen Bleekemolen, but second propelled Clay and Jones into the Grand Sport points lead going into next weekend’s race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley, and Vin Barletta in the #96 Turner M4 GT4 finished sixth, while Henry Schmitt and Greg Liefooghe finished fourteenth in the #88 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4.
Clay left soon after the race to get to Pikes Peak. After he arrived he drove the #36 M4 GT4 up the mountain in 10 minutes and 39 seconds. The M4 GT4 was a late substitute for a monster E36 that BimmerWorld is building for the mountain; it will make the show next year. But for now, Clay noted on his Facebook page on Sunday, June 30, that he “made it to the mountain this morning at 8:45, and then to the top 25 seconds faster than 2017…” Clay drove an E92 M3 on his first run at Pikes Peak in 2017. New Jersey-based Tyler Pappas made his rookie debut at Pikes Peak this year in an M2; his time was 12 minutes and 29 seconds.—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy BMW Motorsport]