Raimondo wins Formula BMW Americas Rookie Championship November 3, 2008 - Sao Paulo, Brazil & ...
Raimondo wins Formula BMW Americas Rookie Championship
November 3, 2008 - Sao Paulo, Brazil – Taking it down to the wire, Gianmarco Raimondo secured the Formula BMW Americas Rookie Championship with a fifth-place finish in the final race of the season. The seventeen-year-old St. Catharines, Ontario native lead the championship from the first race back in May relinquishing the lead just once when his closest rival finished ahead of him in the penultimate round. Gianmarco, a Formula BMW Junior Driver, would go on to run his pace in the final round and bring his No. 50 Autotecnica FB02 across the checkers to also take third overall in the series championship.
Gianmarco is the third Canadian to win top rookie status since the Formula BMW series started in North America five years ago. He follows in the footsteps of James Hinchcliffe and Daniel Morad who won rookie honours in 2004 and 2006 respectively. Morad won the overall title in 2007 following Robert Wickens, another Canadian, who took the title in 2006. All four are graduates of the Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship.
"This is great" exclaimed Gianmarco over the phone from Brazil. "We worked very hard all year long and it was a tough battle right to the end. We are very thankful for all the support from team owner Enrico Diano, my engineer Simon and everyone at Team Autotecnica. We would have nothing to celebrate without all their hard work." Gianmarco continued, "I also have to thank everyone in the Formula BMW Junior program. I learned a lot this year and the experience has been invaluable. Now I have some big shoes to fill following previous Canadian champions Wickens and Morad and I will try my hardest. This series meant a lot to their future in racing, and they, along with Hinchcliffe have gone on to much higher levels of the sport. I hope to follow that path also."
The rookie championship brings with it a full Formula BMW Junior Scholarship for 2009. Gianmarco was selected as an FBMW Junior for this year based on his performance in a 2007 shootout against other racers from across North and South America. The Junior Scholarship provides partial funding for the drivers as well as enrollment in an education and coaching program.
"The scholarship certainly helps with costs," noted Gianmarco, "but it is only a fraction of what it takes to race a full season and be competitive. We are encouraged by getting the scholarship for the 2009 season but must now concentrate our efforts on securing funding to ensure we can make a run at the championship. That will start as soon as we return home from Brazil. For now though, we are going to celebrate."
Next up for Gianmarco is the Formula BMW World Final which features an international filed of drivers who compete in Formula BMW series in Europe and Asia. This event takes place in December 5-7, at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez race circuit in Mexico City, Mexico.