Alan Jay Automotive Network 120
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Season Finale
Sebring International Raceway
November 11-14, 2020
The last race of the tumultuous 2020 IMSA season occurred at Sebring International Raceway on Friday the 13th of November. For those prone to superstition, this final showcase included the expected amount of weirdness and bad luck associated with the date. For those who eschew that notion, this was simply a promising race that broke the wrong way for the BimmerWorld/Racing to End Alzheimer’s team. Regardless, it was a tough race to wrap up a tough season.
The margin for error is incredibly small in IMSA races, and this weekend’s qualifying laps made that abundantly clear. At the wheel of a great car, Nick Galante initially struggled to find some clear track. Coming into the last lap, however, a lightning run put the #80 BMW M4 GT4 in position to be 6th on the grid.
Eager to keep his advantage, Nick pushed extra deep into the last turn and went in too hard. A split-second loss of traction caused the car to spin sideways, and by the time Galante recovered, he was looking at an 11th place starting spot.
The start of the race was reassuringly routine, with every car making it out of turn one smoothly. In lap one, James Clay in the #82 BimmerWorld BMW overtook a few cars to pull in behind teammate Nick Galante for an 11th and 12th pairing. By lap two, the duo was sitting in 8th and 9th, ready to make a charge at the front-runners. Picking off a car every two laps, Galante and Clay cruised into lap 10 in 7th and 8th position. Just as they were hitting their stride, a full course caution was called after a couple of cars lost an argument over the same piece of real estate in turn 7.
The team decided to pit during the caution, and the #82 flew back onto the track just ahead of the #80. With fresh tires, the drivers re-entered the race in 10th and 11th. They took advantage of the new rubber, picking up a few positions in turn one. Like a well-oiled machine, they then patiently took down the #7 car in a two-lap showcase of teamwork. Going into the home stretch, Nick Galante was sitting pretty in the 6th spot.
Bad Luck, Bad Breaks
All of a sudden, on lap 25, an odd mechanical failure seized the #80. The intercooler hose, a crucial airflow component deep inside the turbocharged engine, disconnected, and the car abruptly lost power. The crippled BMW limped into the pits, and the crew made a valiant attempt at a fix, but the hose was virtually impossible to access. Despite their best efforts, the hose popped off again and the #80 was forced to retire.
Back out on the track, the #82 came into the last lap in 5th position. Unfortunately, the car’s fuel level was just short of enough. Unable to wish more fuel into the tank, the team could only watch in dismay as the car sputtered to a stop before the finish.
This year’s abbreviated race season was full of unprecedented challenges and fierce competition. There were fast laps, perfect pit stops, mechanical failures, crashes and glittering displays of teamwork. In the face of so many unknowns, the team squared its shoulders and rolled with the punches.
Some races didn’t break our way, but when you’re racing for a cause, success is not solely defined by victory on the track. Though everyone on our team races to win, there is widespread recognition that our mission extends beyond the podium. With each race run, and each new name added to our Racing to End Alzheimer’s livery, our position in the battle against Alzheimer’s strengthens.
We want to thank you for supporting us through this season, and we promise to get the rubber burning again soon. Until then, stay well.