PAC: Series Okayama qualifying report

Regalia on pole in Japan. Okayama, Japan -- Facu Regalia (ESP/17/Eurointernational) took pole position for both Rounds 13 and 14 of Formula BMW Pacific being held this weekend in support of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the 3.703 km...

Regalia on pole in Japan.

Okayama, Japan -- Facu Regalia (ESP/17/Eurointernational) took pole position for both Rounds 13 and 14 of Formula BMW Pacific being held this weekend in support of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at the 3.703 km Okayama International Circuit.

Formula BMW Pacific Junior Axcil Jefferies (ZIM/15/Eurasia Motorsport) was just a tenth of a second behind the pole man, and will join Regalia on the front row of the grid for the start of the first race. Drivers Classification points leader Rio Haryanto (INA/16/Questnet Team Qi-Meritus) clocked the third fastest time of the session, while current Rookie Cup leader Gary Thompson (IRL/17/E-Rain Racing) qualified fourth.

The drivers' second-fastest times of the 30-minute session determine the starting order for Sunday's Round 14, and Regalia will once again start from pole position, with Haryanto joining him on the front row. Thompson and Jefferies will start from third and fourth position respectively.

Formula BMW Pacific Junior Steel Guiliana (AUS/17/Atlantic Racing Team) matched his best qualifying performance of the season in seventh for both races, while compatriot and fellow Junior Chris Wootton (20/Eurasia Motorsport) qualified fifth fastest, setting his quickest lap the closing seconds of the session. He will start from the same position in Round 14.

With the top four qualifying within four-tenths of a second of each other, and just three races remaining in the 2009 Formula BMW Pacific season, Rounds 13 and14 are expected to be full of on-track excitement. Haryanto, Thompson and Jefferies are all on the hunt for the 2009 Formula BMW Pacific Drivers Classification title, and each point is therefore crucial.

Friday's qualifying session began with Regalia, who finished 8th in Formula BMW Europe, immediately setting the pace. However, Jefferies, Thompson and Haryanto stayed close and an exciting session ensued.

Ten minutes into the session, Calvin Wong (MAS/17/Team Holzer PFX) went wide and spun into the barriers, bringing out the red flag for five minutes. The track cleared, the drivers emerged -- the majority of them with fresh tyres -- and the lap times began to fall away.

Regalia continued to stay in front, with Thompson, Jefferies and Haryanto each trying to better this provisional pole time. With five minutes remaining, Jefferies came the closest and secured second position, just 0.130 seconds behind Regalia.

Formula BMW Pacific is making its debut at the Okayama track this weekend, and is returning to Japan for the first time since 2005. Formula BMW Pacific is joined by members of the BMW Motorsport family, including the drivers and teams in the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the Asian Le Mans series.

Round 13 will take place Saturday, with Round 14 following on Sunday.

Round 13 Qualifying Drivers' Quotes:

1st Facu Regalia: "I'm very happy and pleased to be on pole. It's my first time in Asia and the target is to take two podiums and I hope two wins. It was quite close between myself and Axcil, although I think I could have done better as I overtook another car on my fastest lap. Still it will be quite a close race and it will be important to take a good place at the beginning."

2nd Axcil Jefferies: "I think I messed up a little bit at the beginning, but I think second is good for the championship as Facu is not competing in the championship. At this point, my first priority is to win the Rookie Cup and if I'm lucky, I think I will have a chance to win the Drivers Classification. I still believe it's possible. The circuit is great here, very challenging and the scenery is good as well!"

3rd Rio Haryanto: "I pushed really hard in qualifying, although had some problems in the last corner. P3 for tomorrow is okay and I hope to reach the podium and earn as many points as possible to build the lead between myself and Gary. While I'm not thinking too much about the championship, I know that I will not take big risks unless the car is really fast."

Top Rookie, Gary Thompson: "I would say today was average, not as good as we had hoped. I think we have a good race pace but for putting together one fast lap, it wasn't as great. With the championship the way it is right now, I'm going for race wins and not thinking about winning the championship. Obviously winning the overall Drivers Classification was the goal, but it's not gone exactly how I expected so we're just concentrating on winning one race at a time."

-credit: fbmw pac

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Facu Regalia , Chris Wootton , Axcil Jefferies , Calvin Wong , Rio Haryanto , Gary Thompson , Steel Guiliana