AP: Meritus Racing Bahrain race two summary

Lee wins second race at Bahrain in thrilling style Chinese race ace Marchy LEE Yin-Kin of Team Meritus brought the F1 crowd to their feet during his epic battle in race 2 of Formula BMW Asia, in support of the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix. Young...

Lee wins second race at Bahrain in thrilling style

Chinese race ace Marchy LEE Yin-Kin of Team Meritus brought the F1 crowd to their feet during his epic battle in race 2 of Formula BMW Asia, in support of the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix. Young Tyson SY (Philipines) gave Lee a good clean fight, but had to settle for second, followed by Kyong-Ouk YOU (Korea).

After taking victory yesterday in the first ever race held at the beautiful Bahrain International Circuit, Lee had more of a challenge on his hands when a nail puncture on Friday meant he only qualified forth for the race. To add even more fuel to the fire, overcast skies released scattered showers once in a while, which was surprising for a desert circuit. Furthermore, the wind had picked up considerably, blowing a virtual sandstorm and rendering a slippery track surface.

At the start Lee kept up with the lead group, and moved into second place after turn 1. Continued jostling between the top 6 cars allowed Hanss LIN (Taipei) to leapfrog into the lead, only to spin off soon after by out-braking himself on a slippery corner. This left a trio of Lee, Sy and You to fight it out for the lead, and they certainly did not disappoint. Sy and Lee exchanged the lead no less than 3 times, as they soon learned that the lead car is severely punished by the strong wind, giving any following cars a huge slipstream advantage along the long straight.

The on track excitement had the Bahraini crowd screaming and gasping, and the battle even had the F1 paddock stopped and staring at the TV screens, allowing both Lee and Sy an exceptional opportunity to show their stuff to the best in the sport. Lee did not put a foot wrong throughout the race, defending his position perfectly, while both drivers gave each other just the right amount of space.

"It was a great race. The fighting with Tyson (Sy) was really good, very clean. He has really improved a lot since last year," said Lee.

"The wind really made the difference. When I was leading, I really had to use my head, and put my car in exactly the right place at each corner. I'm so happy with the result because the race was so challenging, and also it was watched by the F1 guys," Lee added.

Meritus' other driver, Malaysian Rookie Nik IRUWAN had another strong race, finishing 14th. This is an exceptional result considering he managed to finish both of his first ever races in cars, after much success in karts. This will give him the confidence to push more next time, as he gains more confidence with the gear changes and stronger brakes, which he did not have in karts.

"The result wasn't great, but I'm really happy about finishing both races. This was my team's objective, and it is a big deal for someone who has never raced cars before. Now I can begin to push harder, as I feel a lot more comfortable driving the car. BMW and Meritus have both given me great support over the weekend, and I can't wait to do much better in front of my home crowd in Sepang at the next race," said Iruwan.

Meritus' Malaysian managing director Firhat Mokhzani was delighted with Nik's performance. "Nik has really impressed us all this weekend. He was a great driver in karts, but stepping up to cars is a totally different story. He has a good racing foundation, but now he has proved that he can keep his head while dealing with everything going on around him; other cars, gear changes, braking, overtaking. He will definitely move up the grid over the season, but we also want to make sure he takes things one step at a time, and not try to rush to the top before gaining the right experience," said Mokhzani.

Marchy's 2 wins this weekend gives Team Meritus the perfect start to the season, and extends their Formula BMW Asia winning streak to 16, after winning all 14 races in 2003. "This is a great way to start the season. We knew Marchy was good when he raced with us before. But Nik was just as impressive, and I'm really looking forward to seeing him progress this year," said Meritus founder and president Peter Thompson.

-www.MeritusRacing.com

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Series Formula BMW