AP: Marchy Lee season finale notes

Marchy Lee ends record season with double-victory Chinese racing champion Marchy LEE Yin-Kin (HKG) closed out the 2004 Formula BMW Asia season in a style befitting his domination all year. Lee won both of the final two rounds -- held at the ...

Marchy Lee ends record season with double-victory

Chinese racing champion Marchy LEE Yin-Kin (HKG) closed out the 2004 Formula BMW Asia season in a style befitting his domination all year. Lee won both of the final two rounds -- held at the Taebaek circuit, Korea -- by a considerable margin and set a new record of 12 wins out of 14 races in a single season.

It was almost a textbook weekend for the Monarch Lubricants Red Bull Team Meritus driver, after starting from pole in both races, creating a gap and maintaining it until the chequered flag. His only potential pit-fall was the usual suspect Hanss Lin, who tried his signature late-braking move into the first corner of the second race. After being taken out of the round 12 race due to a similar move, Lee made sure his line was well defended, and kept his lead.

"This was a great weekend, the perfect way to end a great season. The team and I worked real hard to get these wins, and it paid off. Hanss tried his usual move in the second race, but I wasn't going to let him through or let him ruin my race. He tried to out-brake me on the outside, but I matched him and kept the inside line. After that I just put my head down and pushed to create a gap. Once I had a comfortable distance, I eased off a little to assure the win," said a delighted Lee.

Lee's final two wins gives him 12 wins out of 14 races, which breaks the record previously held by Tung Ho-Pin, who also raced with Team Meritus, of 10 wins from 14 races.

"My goal this weekend was to get at least one more win, to break the record, but a double win was just a dream result. I hope my new record will last for a long time! Meritus has been crucial to my results this year, and I must thank everyone in the team for their hard work and winning abilities," added Lee. Lee's 250 points is more than double that of second place in the championship.

Meritus had more than Marchy's achievements to celebrate, as Moroccan driver Mehdi Bennani clinched joint-second place in the driver's championship, after catching up with Korean Kyong Ouk You. Bennani had already won the Rookie category, and did enough to reach his second goal of first runner-up.

"Obviously I would have preferred being second on my own, but You and I have raced well this year, and it's amazing that we have exactly the same points, but this is what makes motorsports so exciting. I must thank the team for great work on changing my engine and getting the car so competitive," said Bennani.

Meritus' other success story, young Malaysian Nik Iruwan was not able to repeat his performance from the Chinese Grand Prix, where he took his maiden podium finish at the F1 support race in only his first year of racing cars. Difficult qualifying conditions and a tight field meant he finished tenth and seventh.

"I was really hoping for a better result, but I think my expectations where too high after the Shanghai race. I did everything I could, but on the day I wasn't consistent enough. This has still been a very educational weekend, and what I have learned today and all year will serve me well in my future career. I am already looking forward to next year, and I just hope that I can find the right support to give me a good chance to improve further," said Iruwan.

As the 2004 season draws to a close, Meritus Racing has once again stamped its domination on Asian Formula racing, clinching its 15th and 16th titles (Driver and Team champion) since setting up in Asia in 1996. Meritus has already begun looking to next year, and is searching for the next Marchy Lee, Tung Ho-Pin and Takuma Sato. The team will be holding driver evaluation sessions at Sepang Circuit, Malaysia, starting at the end of October, which gives young hopefuls the chance to try the Formula BMW racing car and develop their race craft. The 2005 driver line-up will be selected during these sessions, and interested parties should visit www.MeritusRacing.com or write to Driver@MeritusRacing.com

-www.MeritusRacing.com-

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Takuma Sato , Ho-Pin Tung , Mehdi Bennani , Marchy Lee