IMSA Wire: Team TGM ‘Confronting Adversity’ During Challenging 2017 Season

Team TGM ‘Confronting Adversity’ During Challenging 2017 Season

Aug. 23, 2017

Staff Report

IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s hard to argue that any other team in the Grand Sport (GS) class of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge has had worse luck this season than Team TGM.

Team TGM, which stands for T. Giovanis Motorsports, entered this season with two full-time drivers in team owner Ted Giovanis and co-driver Guy Cosmo, with the addition of Hugh Plumb to assist with the two four-hour races at Daytona International Speedway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Giovanis eventually made the decision early in the year to bring Plumb on board full-time, and all three drivers would pilot two cars, the No. 4 and No. 46 Porsche Cayman GT4 MRs.

But a string of unfortunate events has seen that plan turn into only Plumb and Cosmo driving the No. 4, after Giovanis suffered a torn Achilles tendon as a result of a practice incident at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in early July.

Both cars withdrew from that event due to incidents, did not compete at the following race at Lime Rock Park, and the one car brought to Road America earlier this month was also forced to withdraw due to a practice incident.

“When I fell by the wayside, a lot of people basically said ‘Well, we’re probably not going to do anything from now on,’” said Giovanis, who underwent surgery five weeks ago. “Well, all I did was plug Hugh into the car with Cosmo and this is where we are.

“The testament of a team is not necessarily how well they do but how well they confront adversity. That’s sort of what you’re seeing. We’re confronting adversity. We look for reasons, we look for answers and fix them and go on. There’s a vision followed by plans and the plans didn’t work out, but the vision never changed.”

Giovanis’ recovery is going well, but as he pointed out, full recovery can’t come soon enough for a racecar driver.

“I have two jobs,” Giovanis said. “My jobs are running the (JKTG) Foundation [a primary sponsor of the car that focuses on health policy and cancer research] and being a racecar driver. So, I look at my rehab as doing my job and I think the guys, Hugh and Cosmo, they understand that I’m trying to get back.

“(The doctors) all say I’m doing really well, ahead of other patients they’ve had who have had similar surgeries, but yet it’s not fast enough for me. I’m ready to get on the gas and I can’t do it yet. What do I have to do to get back to walking again? What do I have to do to get in a car again? And what do I have to do to get in a racecar again? Those are sort of my milestones.”

Giovanis is also making sure his injury doesn’t limit the support he is able to give his team. He made the trip to Road America and plans to travel to each of the remaining three races this year, with the next stop being VIRginia International Raceway for the Biscuitville Grand Prix this weekend.

And if there’s one track that could turn the team’s luck around, it’s VIR. Cosmo won there in the Street Tuner (ST) class in 2003 and Plumb has three wins of his own at the circuit (ST in 2006, and GS in 2008 and 2015).

“Some tracks you just seem to have good showings at,” said Plumb. “I like the racetrack a lot and I think it’s got a lot of different things to offer. The word luck or whatever it is outside of hard work, talent, it’s just one of those things that that’s where the stars have aligned.

“When you have lots of bad luck, you start to wonder what is going on? I think it would be easier to rationalize if somebody made a mistake. I’m hoping going into VIR that we’ve had all of our bad luck because we just need to let the talent of the team, the hard work, commitment, all of the above, of Ted and the team really shine.”

And there’s one competitor in particular that Plumb especially has his eye on – younger brother, Matt Plumb, who co-drives the No. 76 C360R McLaren GT4.

“The funny thing is (my three wins) all have been with my brother, Matt, so that’s been great. This weekend, I hope to do the same thing, but beat my brother. He can be second this time.”

BimmerWorld Hoping Home Track Brings Good Luck

As the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge heads into its eighth of ten races on the 2017 schedule, there’s one team in the Street Tuner (ST) paddock hoping that VIRginia International Raceway grants a little magic to one of its own.

With its team shop located in Dublin, Virginia, BimmerWorld Racing, comprised of the Nos. 81 and 84 BMW 328i racecars, is more than familiar with the 3.27-mile circuit located less than three hours away.

“I think we’re looking good for the weekend,” said BimmerWorld President and No. 84 co-driver James Clay. “VIR is our home track and certainly the one we test at the most, so I think we come there knowing certainly the track, but all the nuances of the track, the pavement as it currently exists and how to optimize our cars on the track.”

In what the team hopes to be another good luck charm, this upcoming weekend marks a celebration of sorts for Clay and his co-driver Tyler Cooke, who both celebrated birthdays within the last week. Putting the car on the podium for the second time this year would be the best present.

Clay, who has played a large part in the development and success of the BMW 328i, is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up BimmerWorld’s unique driver lineup. He pilots the No. 84 with Cooke, the youngest of the bunch at 23 years old. In the No. 81 are Ari Balogh, who brings an extensive business and technical background to the team, with Greg Liefooghe, who has the most Continental Tire Challenge starts of the group at 76.

“I like our team and I’m sure as most teams would say, I feel like we’re a tight-knit family,” said Clay. “When running the team, I like a little bit of diversity and I think we’ve certainly got that. I think we all learn certain things from each other and I think the spread of drivers that we have under our awning is really a benefit to us as a team and as a racing team business in creating a well-rounded package.”

While the 2017 season has dealt a wave of challenges to the four drivers throughout the year, including a withdrawal at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park by the No. 81 after an incident in practice, the No. 84 sits sixth in the point standings after recording six top-ten finishes in the seven races this year.

Regardless of the outcome of the last three races of the season, though, the offseason won’t be one of rest and relaxation for the BimmerWorld camp. The team’s 2018 plans include a move up to the Grand Sport class in the Continental Tire Challenge, which is set to feature only those racecars with global GT4 technical specifications and which a wealth of manufacturers have already committed to for the upcoming year.

“As a GT4 car, it’s not a car that we spend time developing,” Clay said, which allows the team’s focus to remain on the final three races of the current season. “That’s really on the factory to deliver the car. At some point in the near future, we’ll have two cars on our doorstep and we’ll start testing and wrapping our heads around the cars. But really there’s not a lot of pregaming and planning for us to do, other than putting the team together and making sure we have the driver lineup set, which is what I’m currently working on.”

The Biscuitville Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway is set for Saturday, August 26 at 2:10 p.m. ET and can be watched live on IMSA.com.

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