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SIMS SECURES FOURTH PLACE AT ROAD ATLANTA AND SIXTH OVERALL IN 2018 IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP

Alexander Sims claimed a fourth-place finish in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the final round of the season on 14 October 2018. The Warwickshire-based driver and his BMW Team RLL team-mates guided the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE around the Road Atlanta track in Georgia, USA, for the ten-hour Motul Petit Le Mans endurance event, completing 419 laps of the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit.

Sims has competed with regular BMW team-mate Connor De Phillippi during the 2018 season, accumulating 304 points to finish the season joint sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans Drivers’ Standings. With competition extremely close within the class, they finished just 18 points behind the title winners.

In the new-for-2018 No. 25 BMW M8 GTE race car, Sims and BMW Team RLL have secured victories at Virginia International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as well as two second-place finishes at the Twelve Hours of Sebring and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The No. 25 finished sixth in the GTLM Team standings, with BMW fourth in GTLM Manufacturer points.

Sims and De Phillippi were joined by Bill Auberlen this weekend for the ten-hour Motul Petit Le Mans endurance event. Having set a fastest lap of 1:17.428, De Phillippi started Sunday’s race seventh on the GTLM grid in the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE. Unfortunately, light contact between him and a Ford GT early on dislodged the front-right headlight on the M8 GTE, which would cause the team an issue as the race ran into dusk and the night. The team pitted during the first safety car period to change the front splitter assembly and resolve the problem. However, as the car was released to re-join the race, it just missed the closing of the pitlane exit, putting it a lap down and back to last place in the GTLM class.

Despite the No. 25 car’s race being compromised, the team knew it could work its way back up the field. In the fifth hour, a safety car period allowed the team to get back on the lead lap and begin working its way through the field.

Sims took the reins for stints three and four, and then got back in the car for a double-stint to end the race. With the car performing better and better as the race went on, Sims picked off competitors, climbing through the field and closing in on his BMW team-mate John Edwards in the No. 24. He brought the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE across the finish line fourth in the GTLM class, just 1.755 seconds behind the sister BMW car in third.

“That was a really exciting end to the race and the season!” says Sims. “The start was very difficult but the way we managed to claw our way back into the race, being able to push hard and have good pace was great. The car really came alive in the evening and into the night and I felt that we were getting more and more competitive. I had great fun racing and passing cars in the final stints. Although I was able to reel in John [Edwards] in the sister BMW, there was no need to make any risky moves.

“It was fantastic for the team to get a podium and for us to come home fourth after the challenges earlier in the race. The team has worked hard all year and I think it’s a credit to the engineers, mechanics and BMW that the BMW M8 GTE has performed well and is continuing to work better and better, with the results proving this. Inevitably, with a new car we have had a lot of learning to take onboard and we’ve done that during the year. We had an up and down start to the season, but in the second half to be consistently fast was really enjoyable.”

Sims concludes his second season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, finishing sixth in the GTLM Drivers’ Standings. “I’ve had a really good couple of seasons in the championship and racing in the USA. The team has been brilliant, particularly getting me up to speed last year, and we’ve achieved some good results, particularly finishing second in class last year. Now it’s time to focus on the next challenge awaiting me in Formula E, which I’m very much looking forward to.”

Sims will make his race debut in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with newly-formed team BMW i Andretti Motorsport on 15 December 2018. The first race of the season for the all-electric championship takes place on the streets of the Saudi Arabian capital of Ad Diriyah.

Source. Melissa Wicks

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