Tim Munday – On That GT2 Win At Le Mans
And Wider Issues

It’s taken a little while to pin BAM!’s Tim Munday down to look back at the AJR/BAM! win at Le Mans, but Gary Horrocks finally completed the task at Portland’s ALMS race.

“I can retire on that!” That is Tim Munday’s view of Le Mans 2005, where his BAM! Team joined forces with Alex Job Racing to win the GT2 class. “I guess I can call it quits and bask in the glory now!”

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Tim was a part of the Dick Babour effort that won the same class five years ago, but the car was then disqualified when post race inspection found the fuel tank to be too large. “In many ways, our race in 2005 was very reminiscent of that race. We led every lap and had no problems. It was fuel and tires and nothing else. Every stop was that way. It’s just that this year it turned out OK. There was no repeat of that so-called fuel tank problem.”

The surprising factor in this win is that BAM! was not supposed to be there at all, as they were not on the invited list, or even the list of alternatives. Why was BAM! not on the initial list?

dailysportscar.com“I don’t really know. We, as in BAM!, met all of the criteria to be accepted. Last year we did the race as a team, but instead of being under the BAM! name we did it in conjunction with Orbit, as the invite was under the Orbit name. Even though we were clear that it was a BAM! effort, it was recognized by the ACO as an Orbit entry.

“Thankfully for us, Alex Job had an invite that he was not able to take up owing to some funding issues. So we got together and with the help of Porsche, we got it all to work out, but in the end, it was classified as an AJR effort, because that is who the entry is for. So, the credit and the automatic entry for 2006 will still be for AJR.” Thus, even though they have had success under the Orbit banner and also with AJR, BAM!, is in essence a team that does not exist in the eyes of the ACO.

But, in many ways, BAM! almost did not exist this season. “It was January and we still didn’t have a deal secured for the 2005 season. I remember sitting down one Friday, saying that if we didn’t have a signed deal by the end of that day, that would be it. I’d have to lock the doors. Thankfully the deal came through that afternoon, and here we are.”

Here, is what became an exclusive deal to run and develop the Yokahama ADVAN tires for the GT2 class Porsches in the ALMS. The goal is to have a tire developed and ready for customers by the end of the season. So far in ALMS competition, wins have not yet happened, but as indicated by the results at Infineon and Portland, considerable progress is being made. Nevertheless, the Yokahama tires were ideal for Le Mans. “It appeared under the conditions that we were running, the Yokahama tires were actually quicker than the Michelins. At Le Mans, even though it was hot, the nature of the track allowed the tires to sufficiently cool on the long straights and to hold up very well.”

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In what at first may have been viewed on the surface as a disadvantage, the Yokahama tires actually became an advantage in the end.

Unfortunately for Tim, this deal came about just as the ALMS introduced limits on test dates for teams. “We as a team were allowed six dates and we have nearly used those up. Additional dates are allowed for the tire manufacturers and also the car constructors, so maybe we can still get a few in, but time is getting to be tight.”

But despite the testing limitations, Tim feels that the tires are getting better suited for the American tracks. The progress has been slowed by race accidents and the logistics of having tires produced in Japan, but progress is being made, especially towards the heat issues.

While earlier indications were that the traditional black/red ADVAN markings were a one off at Infineon, it is now possible that this color scheme may continue for a good part of the remainder of the year. You can be sure that Yokahama is proud of its success at Le Mans and is anxious to let the public know about that success.

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Leo Hindery was instrumental in getting your team where it is now, but he is becoming a rare breed, being a gentleman driver, isn’t he?

dailysportscar.com“Leo went into Le Mans, knowing that it would be his last race, so winning it for and with him was pretty special. It is unfortunate that it appears that there is just no space for gentleman drivers such as him anymore. The ALMS has become too competitive and too expensive for a driver such as himself. But it isn’t just the ALMS. Grand Am, which was supposed to be a more affordable formula, is becoming too expensive and competitive for gentleman drivers.

“Here in the States, 80% of the possible funding goes into NASCAR, 10% into the open wheel series (IRL and Champ Car) and we in the ALMS are left to fight over the last 10%, with Grand Am and other series such as SPEED GT. This is a difficult country to develop a series such as the ALMS. The desired demographics are the Target and Wall Mart crowd. The crowd that is into NASCAR. Sportscar racing has always had a higher and more limited demographic, that is more difficult to sell.”

dailysportscar.comWhat may not be as noticeable is also the absence of the European teams that had been running in the ALMS (Tim having some fun at Sebring, left). Yes, there is the LMES, but Tim also believes one of the problems facing the European teams is the conditions of the tracks, which are notoriously rougher here.

“Bring a car over from Europe and you will be hopeless here. The tracks are so rough, but that is an advantage for the US teams when they head over there. They’ve had to deal with the worst. Driving on a smoother European track all of a sudden becomes easier. Look at the success that the US (ALMS) based teams have had over there. But it must be remembered, the competition here is tougher than anywhere in the world.”

Making a car faster can be an expensive proposition, but another way of making a car faster is the driver, and with the addition of Wolf Henzler to the driver line-up, BAM! has been granted the use of one of the brighter “unknown” up and coming stars in the sportscar world.

“He was brought to us by Porsche, with the understanding that he would drive for us this year. So far he has shown some impressive speed, and it is my understanding that if things go well for him, there is a good chance that he might be considered for a position with the factory in the future.”

As to the future, Tim is unsure. He has doubts and concerns about the sport, but unlike fans, this is his livelihood, not a distraction. He feels that sportscar racing, in particular, is very cyclical, and “good series last 10 years or so and the lesser series generally last less.” It is not that the good series go away, but they have to go through some changes. So, what would Tim do if he was the king of sportscar racing?

“I’d take the money and retire to a warm island somewhere! Really, it is not an easy place to be in. It appears that the production-based classes are where the future is. I don’t know, but maybe scrapping the prototypes and going production-based, like the FIA series, is the way to go. But then again, you have Porsche jumping into the prototypes now. How many are they going to sell? Do they expect the customers to come out of the GT2 class or are they expecting them to come from other places? I just don’t know.”

We’d have to question that comment regarding the prototypes – but Tim Munday is a GT man. Obviously there are many questions to be answered about the future, but for now, Tim can be content with owning the team that was a part of the GT2 class win at Le Mans in 2005, even if the ACO doesn’t quite recognize that.

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