Lee Finishes Seventh Thursday In First Formula BMW Race at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 29 - Although Matt Lee isn't in contention for the Formula BMW USA championship this year, there was only one driver between him and the two drivers...
Lee Finishes Seventh Thursday In First Formula BMW Race at Road Atlanta
BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 29 - Although Matt Lee isn't in contention for the Formula BMW USA championship this year, there was only one driver between him and the two drivers who are now tied for the point lead when the checkered dropped Thursday afternoon after the first half of a doubleheader here at Road Atlanta.
Lee, 15, of Syosset, N.Y., a rookie this year in the Formula BMW series, finished seventh in his first race here. The point leaders finished fourth and fifth.
The title will be decided tomorrow when the second half of the doubleheader is staged at 12:45 p.m. on the demanding 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course.
Lee qualified eighth for Thursday's 13-lap/30-minute race with a speed of 1:29.366 (102.321 mph) on Wednesday afternoon with Twin tooth/BRM Motorsports' No. 44 sponsored by the international financial services group Credit Suisse. His qualifying time was just five-tenths of a second off Kevin Lacroix's automatic track record of 1:28.842 (102.924 mph).
When the green dropped Lee got off to a good start, maintaining his position despite several changes in the standings ahead of him. He moved into seventh on lap three when Rob Bunker got off course for a minute, and he took sixth when Daniel Herrington fell back on the next circuit.
Lee held sixth from lap four until the very end, when he dropped a Michelin tire off a curb in Turn Seven to open the door for Justin Moon to slip by. Lee ran extremely consistent laps throughout the race, staying about five-tenths of a second behind the fifth-place driver. For most of the race that was title-contender and polesitter Lacroix.
"Our car was understeering, and I got blocked a lot," Lee said afterwards. "But I wasn't close to any incidents, and our Michelin tires were good.
"We missed the set-up in qualifying for the second race, so I have to start in the back," he added. "We'll change the set-up for tomorrow and see what we can do."
Lee, a junior at Syosset High School, will start tomorrow's 18-car race from 16th position due to his qualifying time of 1:30.206 (101.368 mph) Thursday morning.
Lee was eighth in the first practice session Wednesday morning with a 1:28.877 (101.739 mph). He topped the entire field in the second practice session earlier Wednesday afternoon before quals with a 1:31.181 (100.284 mph).
Thursday's race was held under hot and sunny weather conditions.
The 30-minute Formula BMW doubleheaders are companion events to Saturday's Petit Le Mans American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race.
Italian Edoardo Piscopo won Thursday race over Reed Stevens, Australia's James Davison, Canada's Lacroix, France's Richard Philippe, Moon, Lee, Canada's Robert Wickens, Belgium driver Maxime Soulet and Canadian Doug Boyer.
Lee's team is based in Amityville, N.Y.
For more information, see twintoothracing.com and formulabmwusa.com.