BMW racers struggled in the 2 ½-hour Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Watkins Glen, but somehow they held on to competitive positions in the points in both classes at the halfway point in the season.
Eleventh-place finishers Michael Marsal and Tom Kimber-Smith in the #97 Turner Motorsport M3 were the best BMW performers in the Grand Sport class. In Street Tuner, two BMWs broke into the top ten; Terry Borcheller and Mike LaMarra brought the #23 Burton Racing 128i across the line in the eighth position, while Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss finished tenth in the #56 Murillo Racing 328i.
Two crashes just after the drop of the green flag led to a 25-minute caution period; eight cars sustained damage in the incidents. It was the first of three full-course yellow flag periods in the race. The early leader was Stevenson Camaro racer Andrew Davis. He and co-driver Robin Liddell would go on to win, but it was not an easy victory. Like many front runners, the Stevenson team was hoping for a late-race yellow that never came. As a result, Liddell, nearly out of fuel on the last lap, barely held off BJ Zacharias in a Doran Racing Nissan 370Z; the margin of victory was .169 seconds. Ryan Eversley and Kyle Gimple won the ST class in a Compass360 Racing Honda Civic Si. They were low on fuel as well, but they survived, while the Porsche Cayman driven by Reno Ruscitti, the car they were battling for the class lead, ran out of gas with just seven minutes remaining in the race.
Unofficially, pending release of final results, BMW racers led drivers’ points in both classes going into the Mosport race on July 12. Fall-Line M3 racer Trent Hindman led Grand Sport drivers’ points coming into the Watkins Glen race. His co-driver John Edwards fell a scant six seconds short of the 45 minute minimum required for points in the previous race in Kansas, so he fell to third in the standings behind Hindman and Aston Martin racer Kris Wilson.
Hindman qualified fourth at Watkins Glen, and stayed in the hunt, running from third to fifth behind a pack of very quick Camaros. But trouble developed early on Edwards’ stint, when he came together with Camaro racer Andy Lally. Both cars fell back, but the incident proved to be worse for the Fall-Line M3, which eventually finished nineteenth with suspension damage.
However, Wilson also had a difficult race in the Aston Martin; his co-driver Max Riddell spun and climbed a tire barrier, stopping with two wheels atop the wall. He was able to drive down off the barrier, but the car was retired and classified seventeenth. As a result, Wilson’s gain on Edwards was small.
The big leap in the points came for Matt Plumb, who moved into a tie for the lead with Hindman after finishing third in the Rum Bum Porsche that the shared with Nick Longhi.
In Street Tuner, Greg Liefooghe and Tyler Cooke, who finished twelfth in the #81 BimmerWorld 328i, held onto the points lead when their closest competitors, Mazda racers Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee, were disqualified from their second place finish because of a technical infraction.
Race results and points calculations remain unofficial at this writing, the morning after the race.—Brian S. Morgan