Alexander Sims secured his second consecutive victory in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on 9 September 2018. The Warwickshire-based driver and his BMW Team RLL team-mate Connor De Phillippi took GTLM class honours at the America’s Tire 250 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in California, USA.
BMW Team RLL and the driver pairing faultlessly executed a bold strategy to take honours, with the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE completing 100 laps of the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Laguna Seca circuit in the two-hour-and-forty-minute race, winning by a 2.488-second margin. The result also meant the second consecutive win for the new-for-2018 BMW M8 GTE.
Sims went into the weekend’s 15-minute qualifying session and set the fifth fastest lap time of 1:22.972 in the No. 25 M8 GTE, with the entire GTLM class separated by only .827 seconds. “During qualifying, the car was working quite well, and I was fortunate to get two clear laps when the tyres were optimum,” says Sims. “I found that the wind changed compared to the morning’s practice, affecting me particularly in turns six and nine, but I was able to deal with it.”
Sims started the two-hour-and-forty-minute race and did well to avoid debris from an early collision on the start-finish straight. There were three caution periods in the first 45 minutes, eliminating two class competitors to allow Sims to improve two positions. In anticipation of the third caution period, the team pitted the No. 25 M8 GTE, leading to split strategies for the No. 25 and the BMW Team RLLsister car, the No. 24.
In the second half of the race, the No. 24 was leading the class with De Phillippi, now at the wheel of the No. 25, in second place. Both cars were just outside the window to make it to the end of the race without more fuel. With the No. 24, the team decided to push on and hope that a further caution would allow for a quick refuel shop. However, with the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE, the team decided to conserve fuel in case the caution didn’t come.
On lap 93, the No. 24 had to pit for a splash of fuel, allowing De Phillippi to take the lead. He managed to defend from the pursuing No. 912 Porsche for the final seven laps of the race to take victory by almost three seconds.
“What a job by the whole team!” said Sims. “It was an eventful beginning to the race with debris and cautions at the start, which I was fortunate to avoid. We then settled into the race and had strong pace. Connor took over with around one hour 17 minutes to go and we took a decision on the strategy to fuel save and extend the last stint. Connor did an absolutely awesome job to save fuel and keep a good pace. Absolute credit to the team and to Connor for winning that race by having that mega last stint. I’m so pleased to get this second win in a row with the new BMW M8 GTE!”
The final round of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Motul Petit Le Mans, will take place at Road Atlanta, Georgia, on 13 October 2018.
Source. Alexander Sims