AMER: Autotecnica VIR event notes

Autotecnica returns from VIR with two podium finishes and many more points! Team Autotecnica returned from this past weekend's Formula BMW races with two 3rd place finishes and many points to boost its standings, as well as its drivers', in the...

Autotecnica returns from VIR with two podium finishes and many more points!

Team Autotecnica returned from this past weekend's Formula BMW races with two 3rd place finishes and many points to boost its standings, as well as its drivers', in the overall Formula BMW Americas championship. Despite both Gianmarco Raimondo and Alex Ellis being new to Virginia International Raceway's full, 3.27 mile, road course around the rolling hills of Alton, VA, they scored valuable points that will help them and the team in their championship battle throughout 2009.

Alex Ellis (17, CAN) and Gianmarco Raimondo (18, CAN) each picked up a 3rd place finish in the Saturday and Sunday races, respectively. The good race results followed two qualifying sessions that left more to be desired by the young Canadians from St. Catharines, Ontario. In the first qualifying session, Ellis spun and got stuck off the track, thus ending the session early with the 7th fastest time while Raimondo pikced up 6th place. In the second qualifying session, Raimondo unfortunately went off track and ended his session early with an 8th place time while Ellis got stuck with 7th again.

The drivers made up for their qualifying results with great speed and craft in each of the weekend's two races. Race 1 on Saturday saw Raimondo off to his trademark blisteringly fast start where he picked up a position immediately and slotted into 4th place by the 3rd lap. Ellis followed Raimondo's lead and worked his way through to 5th place (from 7th), tight on Gianmarco's gearbox. The Formula BMW Junior duo from Autotecnica gained ground quickly on Michael Lewis in 3rd place. As Raimondo tried to manoeuvre his way around Lewis, he was forced to withdraw his pass as Lewis closed the door down the pit straight. Following closely behind, Ellis drove around both of them to quickly snag 3rd place while Raimondo soon got around Lewis to take 4th to the finish. The race winner was Brazil's Giancarlo Vilharinho, with Gabby Chaves in second.

Sunday's Race 2 saw Ellis make the lightning start to pick up 3 positions by the first turn. He tried to maintain this momentum a few laps later in passing James Kovacic but contact with the young Australian sent Ellis into the grass, forcing him to play catch-up to the rest of the field. This he did very well and finished in 6th place, thus picking up some good points for himself and Team Autotecnica. It was Raimondo's turn to make up for a lacklustre qualifying and he was quick to put that behind him by passing two cars on the start and by snatching in 5th place, after an 8th place start, by the second lap. Raimondo worked his way up to 4th place where he caught up to Kovacic who eventually spun off track on his own and handed off 3rd place to Raimondo just before the end of the race. Giancarlo Vilharinho again took the honours for this race with Chaves again in second.

With the second event complete, Raimondo moves from 4th in the overall standings to 3rd, behind Gabby Chaves and Giancarlo Vilharinho. Alex Ellis is close behind in 4th, thus moving up two spots. Ellis also now has picked up 1st place in the Rookie standings where he was initially 3rd. Team Autotecnica has now secured its 2nd place in the team standings with a small gap to the leader. Congratulations go to both Alex and Gianmarco for another great racing weekend!

Next up for Team Autotecnica and the Formula BMW Americas series are two official test days and three races at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, Utah, in support of the American LeMans Series (ALMS) weekend on May 15-17.

Team Autotecnica will also be hosting its first open house this weekend at its shop near Toronto on Saturday May 2nd from 10am until 2pm. Friends, family, partners and sponsors are welcome to stop by and meet the drivers and see the cars in person! Snacks, drinks, and Saeco espresso will be provided!

-credit: Autotecnica

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Michael Lewis , Gianmarco Raimondo , James Kovacic , Gabby Chaves