Thorne Finishes Ninth; Lee Has a Rough Trip In Formula BMW Action Sunday at Mid-Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 21 - Twin tooth Racing's Robert Thorne of Sherman, Conn. brought his Team Autotecnica Formula BMW race car home ninth Sunday at...
Thorne Finishes Ninth; Lee Has a Rough Trip In Formula BMW Action Sunday at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio, May 21 - Twin tooth Racing's Robert Thorne of Sherman, Conn. brought his Team Autotecnica Formula BMW race car home ninth Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
His teammate, Matt Lee of Syosset, N.Y., ended up in the grass off the last turn on lap 14 of the 15-lap race after he had just passed the fifth-place driver and was going for fourth. Lee's official finishing position was 20th.
Lee started third and was as high as second right after the green. Thorne started seventh and got as high as sixth in the race, which was held on a track that had wet spots at the start but dried as the event progressed.
Daniel Morad won the race over John Zartarian and Adrian Herberts. Although there were only two leaders it was a topsy-turvy event, as Morad started way back in 12th, Zartarian started sixth and Herberts took the green in 15th place in the 25-car field.
Lee got a great start and got into second right away by passing Simona de Silvestro, but a little later on lap one he got off course during a crash that also involved the fourth-place starter, Reed Stevens, and the second-place starter, de Silvestro.
Lee was able to rejoin the field and he was in 12th when the green waved again on lap four, while Thorne had advanced to sixth.
Zartarian got by Thorne on lap five to push him to seventh while Lee moved up to 11th on that lap when Steven Guerrero fell back.
Lee advanced rapidly on the pack of cars that Thorne was running with, but unfortunately the two teammates made contact on lap six. Thorne dropped from seventh to 11th, while Lee fell back to 14th.
Thorne stayed in 11th from lap seven until lap 12, moving up to tenth when the third-place driver, Doug Boyer, ran into trouble. He got ninth when his teammate got off course on lap 14, and brought his No. 1 home in that position.
The ever-improving Thorne was the fourth-highest-finishing rookie in the race and he ended his first weekend of Formula BMW USA competition with solid 12th and ninth-place finishes.
The premature end to Lee's day came after a thrilling late-race charge back up through the field after the contact on lap six. He got 13th on lap seven and moved into tenth on the next lap. He passed both the polesitter, David Garza, and Race Johnson on lap 10 to advance to eighth. He advanced two more spots on lap 12 when he passed Scott Schroeder and Boyer fell back. He was all over Sebastian Saavedra as he completed lap 13 in sixth place. He had just passed Saavedra and he was in fifth place and attempting to pass Ryan Campbell for fourth when he got off course and slid in the grass off the last turn on lap 14 of the 15-lap race. If the move would have worked Lee would have gotten at least fourth and perhaps even been on the podium.
Thorne and Lee's cars are sponsored in part by Bumper to Bumper, Autoparts Warehouse, the Francis A. Lee Company, Matt-Con Services Corp. and Integrated Structures.
After the Mid-Ohio races this weekend the Formula BMW USA circuit travels to Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. for another doubleheader May 26-28.
More information is available on the Internet at twintooth.com, autotecnicagroup.com, formulabmwusa.com and midohio.com.
Post-race quotes follow:
Robert Thorne: "I would have liked to have finished one spot better.
"The crash in Turn Two on the first lap was huge. I came into it and gained two positions. Matt was in that too.
"Matt started to come up behind me and he was catching up. Then just going into the Carousel I looked behind me and I didn't see him anywhere. He was in my blind spot, outside in the Carousel. We hit each other, and Matt spun out again. I kept going, but I got passed by a lot of people there.
"Then everything went pretty smoothly. Towards the end I caught up to the guy who finished right in front of me. I tried to make a few passes on him, but couldn't.
"Then at the end Matt tried to pass on the outside in the Carousel and crashed.
"We were on rain tires, and it was kind of horrible when the track started to dry out. My car had an oversteer when it was really wet but it held together in the dry."
Matt Lee: "The Autotecnica team worked day and night to get the car ready for the 8 a.m. practice session today; I have to thank them for their hard work [after yesterday's accident].
"Unfortunately I was spun out twice in the race by other people. Then I did a risky move at the end and got off.
"Considering the crash yesterday, the car was quite amazing today."