BMW 228i Makes Continental Tire Challenge Debut
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The BMW 228i will make its Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competition debut in Saturday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. JDC-Miller Motorsports joins the series with a car specially equipped with hand controls for the two-hour, 30-minute race.

Michael Johnson, a former open-wheel driver who has been paralyzed since being injured in a motorcycle race at age 12, will co-drive with 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona class winner Stephen Simpson in the yellow No. 54 Universal Coating BMW 228i. The car will compete in the Street Tuner (ST) class.

“I’m super excited that it’s finally coming together,” said Johnson, a 23-year-old resident of Flint, Michigan. “I spent time with Stephen Simpson following his recent victory at Long Beach, and the team has a lot of good mojo going into the race. It’s fun to get back on the racetrack – my last race was last year at Mazda Raceway in Pro Mazda. It’s a fun track, and I always like going there.”

JDC-Miller Motorsports competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, currently leading the Prototype Challenge (PC) class with victories at Daytona and Long Beach.

The car is specialty-equipped with hand controls provided by GuidoSimplex. Due to Johnson being paralyzed from the waist down, his car has a sophisticated brake, gearshift, and throttle system—he presses a ring on the steering wheel forward to accelerate, then pulls another ring toward him to brake. The car was built by Burton Racing, the 2013 ST team champions.

Ford Shelbys 1-2 In Grand Sport Points

Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell will be looking to extend their lead in the Grand Sport (GS) class standings after winning at Daytona and finishing second at Sebring in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsport Ford Shelby GT350R/C. They lead the customer Shelby of Pierre Kleinubing and Paul Holton, drivers of the No. 76 Compass360 Racing AERO Advanced Paint Technology/Children’s Tumor Foundation entry, by seven points, 67-60.

Ford’s main competition comes from four Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport entries. Bodymotion racing scored the first victory for the new car at Sebring, with Cameron Cassels and Trent Hindman in the No. 12 entry. CJ Wilson Racing will field two cars, the No. 33 ONE Capital Management/ Clubsport for Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett, and the No. 35 for Tyler McQuarrie and Till Bechtolscheimer. Ted Giovanis and David Murry return in the No. 64 JKTG Foundation/Camp Boggy Creek Clubsport.

Aston Martin also will be represented in the GS field via Rob Ecklin in the Automatic Racing No. 99 Invisible Glass/ Rogue Engineering/BMW Melbourne/Red Glare Records Aston Martin Vantage.

Carbonell, Dwyer, Freedom Autosport Look To Continue Streaks At Mazda Raceway

Freedom Autosport has a five-race winning streak in the ST class at Mazda Raceway. Andrew Carbonell has a personal three-race winning streak and has won four of the last five in the No. 26 Mazda MX-5. Last year, Carbonell won on a last-lap pass to join co-driver Liam Dwyer atop the victory stand.

“There’s no clear key for success at Mazda Raceway,” Carbonell said. “It is a momentum-based track, and it’s really suited to our Mazda MX-5.”

Defending ST champions Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer joined Freedom Autosport for 2016, co-driving the No. 25 ModSpace Mazda MX-5. Additionally, the No. 27 Trumpf/Bravo Trailers Mazda MX-5 joins the field. Casey had the fastest race lap and finished second in last year’s event at Mazda Raceway.

Robin Liddell won last year’s Continental Tire Challenge event overall at Mazda Raceway, driving a Camaro for Stevenson Motorsports with Andrew Davis. In addition to driving for that team in the WeatherTech Championship for this year’s race, Liddell joins 2014 Mazda Raceway ST pole winner Elliott Skeer in the No. 8 Rebel Rock Racing Borla/Urban Grid Porsche Cayman.

Honda is coming off an ST victory in the recent race at Sebring, with Sarah Cattaneo and Owen Trinkler taking over the points lead in the No. 44 CRG-I Do Borrow Honda Civic Si. Chad Gilsinger and Michael Valiante – second at Sebring in the No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si – are also second in the standings, four points behind, 60-56.

Nick Galante – a Monterey resident and professional caddy at nearby Pebble Beach Golf Course – finished second at Daytona in the No. 17 Legistics/ Porsche Cayman co-driven by Spencer Pumpelly. The pair are among a trio of RS1 entries, and are third in the point standings.

The San Francisco Bay area is represented by two driver pairings. Ari Balogh (Menlo Park) and Greg Liefooghe (San Francisco) co-drive the No. 83 Next Level European/Red Line Oil Porsche Cayman, while Jim McGuire (Tiburon) and Nico Rondet (San Francisco) share the Compass360 Racing No. 74 AERO Advanced Paint Technology/Children’s Tumor Foundation/Audi Genuine Parts Audi S3. Christian Szymczak of Oakland co-drives the No. 34 Alara Racing Mazda MX-5 with Justin Piscitell.

Other contenders include Daytona winners Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman; BimmerWorld Racing’s James Clay and Tyler Cooke, coming off the TOTAL Pole Award and third-place finish at Sebring in the No. 84 OPTIMA Batteries BMW 328i; and the three-car MINI John Cooper Works team.

Continental Tire Challenge practice will be begin on Thursday at 11:05 a.m. PT, with qualifying Friday at 1:15 p.m. PT. The two-hour, 30-minute race will take the green flag on Saturday at 1:25 p.m. PT. The race will be streamed live on the FOX Sports GO app and, beginning at 4:25 p.m. ET.