Lee Garners Two Seconds In Formula BMW Doubleheader At Canadian Grand Prix To Move Into Tie for Points Lead MONTREAL, June 26 - Twin tooth Racing's Matt Lee finished second in both halves of the Formula BMW doubleheader Saturday and Sunday at...
Lee Garners Two Seconds In Formula BMW Doubleheader At Canadian Grand Prix To Move Into Tie for Points Lead
MONTREAL, June 26 - Twin tooth Racing's Matt Lee finished second in both halves of the Formula BMW doubleheader Saturday and Sunday at the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit here. Both events supported the Canadian Grand Prix, and showcased the talents of the 16-year-old driver from Syosset, N.Y. on racing's world stage.
The terrific showing also vaulted him into a tie for first place in the Formula BMW USA point standings with Robert Wickens heading into another doubleheader this coming weekend. That is another highlight of the 14-race season, since it's held at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway in support of the United States Grand Prix.
Stefano Coletti, a ringer from the Formula BMW Germany series, won both races over the weekend in Canada. Starting from the pole both days, he led Saturday's race from start to finish and led all but one lap on Sunday. Lee led that lap, but Coletti passed him back and went on to post the victory with Lee just 0.673 of a second behind him.
On Saturday the top five were Coletti, Lee, Wickens, Simona de Silvestro and Reed Stevens.
On Sunday the top five were Coletti, Lee, de Silvestro, Doug Boyer and Ryan Phinny.
Lee's teammate on Team Autotecnica, Robert Thorne of Sherman, Conn., encountered bad racing luck in Montreal. He hit the wall the first day of practice, and although luckily he escaped injury, there wasn't enough time to repair the significant damage to the car before the qualifying session so he had to start at the rear in both races. An incident during Saturday's race damaged the car's rear floorboard and caused the car not to pass the post-race inspection, so he didn't get a finishing position for that event. Things went better for him on Sunday, however, as he ended up 18th and was the fourth-highest-finishing rookie in that race.
Lee qualified third for Saturday morning's race. He lost two spots to David Garza and de Silvestro by turn one on the first lap due to a very hairy start when there was a problem with the course's starting lights. He quickly passed de Silvestro back and he moved back into third when Garza spun on lap two.
Wickens started second and Lee had to pass him twice, but before long Lee was in the runner-up spot. He was able to remain there until the finish of the 14-lap, 29-car race with his Team Autotecnica No. 44, but by that time Coletti was too far ahead.
"The race went pretty well for me," Lee was quoted as saying afterwards on Saturday. "After a bad start I managed to come up through the field and finish second. I am happy with that. My team worked hard and put together a great car for me. It was perfect, and couldn't have been better."
Lee started third on Sunday too, but he passed Wickens right away to move into second. On a restart on lap 10 Lee took the lead away from Coletti, but then Coletti passed him back. Lee kept the pressure up the rest of the way, but Coletti was not to be denied.
"He wasn't faster in any particular part of the course in the first race, but he seemed stronger in the chicane in the second race," Lee noted, but added quickly "My car handled very well all weekend though."
At the checkered Wickens and Reed Stevens tangled and spun in the last turn, allowing de Silvestro to move into third and pushing Wickens back to ninth. Stevens took the checkered backwards in 16th place.
"The race was definitely interesting," Lee said of Sunday's event. "At the beginning I had a fight with Wickens for second, and then I was fighting with Coletti. First we had a large gap but then I was able to close it. I was very disappointed when Coletti passed me after I led for a short time. I thought that I would pull away, but I couldn't.
"It was a pretty clean race for me though; I wasn't close to an incidents" he noted.
Lee said the two runner-up finishes definitely boosted his confidence. "I'm tied for the lead in the championship now; I have to make that right next weekend," he said with conviction. "I hope to repeat the two podium finishes this coming week at Indianapolis."
Both Lee and Thorne's Autotecnica cars are sponsored in part by Bumper to Bumper, Autoparts Warehouse, the Francis A. Lee Company, Matt-Con Services Corp. and Integrated Structures. Both drivers are also looking for additional marketing partners to join their program.