AMER: Series Road America round ten qualifying notes

Giancarlo Vilarinho Scores Formula BMW Americas Pole at Road America The fight for the 2009 Formula BMW Americas series championship sees its top two contenders in the title fight separated by just 20 points, while the rookie battle has its ...

Giancarlo Vilarinho Scores Formula BMW Americas Pole at Road America

The fight for the 2009 Formula BMW Americas series championship sees its top two contenders in the title fight separated by just 20 points, while the rookie battle has its top three competitors within 23 points of each other with five races to run.

So with opportunities to make up ground becoming fewer and fewer, Eurointernational's Giancarlo Vilarinho took advantage of Friday's chance to earn a championship point, leading qualifying at Road America for Saturday's 10th round.

Vilarinho held off his teammate and championship leader Gabby Chaves to score his sixth pole of the season, posting a top lap of 2:18.465 around the 4.048-mile Elkhart Lake circuit. The pole position gave the Brazilian another point and brought him to within 19 markers of the front-running Chaves.

"It was very important for me to come out here and qualify well, especially this weekend as we are fighting hard for the championship," Vilarinho said. "I found out at Lime Rock that if you start in the middle of the pack, it is very hard to get up front where we need to be. So I pushed hard and got the result we wanted."

Chaves will have every opportunity to protect his points lead tomorrow as he starts alongside his antagonist. Chaves carded a best time of 2:18.767 late in the 30-minute session to score the front-row starting spot, moving him ahead of rookie James Kovacic. Chaves and Vilarinho have won eight of the year's nine races between them, and Chaves knows that protecting his lead won't be easy.

"The only thing that didn't go my way was in not getting the point for pole, because the way the season is going, it could come down to a single point for the championship and that is the ultimate goal," Chaves said. "I think it will be a crazy race tomorrow. Guys can get a draft off of each other and there are passing opportunities on nearly every corner, so it should be fun."

Kovacic, who scored his first win of the year in Round 9 at Lime Rock Park, took the third spot for tomorrow's event with a best time of 2:18.790 as the Australian driver looks to protect his lead in the rookie battle. Much like the scenario in the overall standings, the top two drivers in the rookie battle will start side-by-side as Kovacic will be flanked by American Michael Lewis who will grid fourth.

Autotecnica stablemates Gianmarco Raimondo and Alex Ellis will make up the third row, as the Canadian duo clocked in within .041 seconds of each other, with Raimondo taking the fifth spot ahead of his St. Catherines, Ontario neighbor. Brazilian Joao Horto put his Team Apex machine in the seventh position on the grid while his Team Apex teammate Colombian Martin Sala starts eighth.

The Formula BMW Americas series is running a tripleheader this weekend at Elkhart Lake, getting started early on Saturday with the qualifying session for Round 11 getting started at 11:45. The first race of the weekend will get the green flag at 4:10, with Rounds 11 and 12 slated for Sunday starts.

-credit: bmw

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Michael Lewis , Giancarlo Vilarinho , Gianmarco Raimondo , Martin Sala , Joao Horto , James Kovacic , Gabby Chaves