AP: Meritus Racing Beijing qualifying notes

All Meritus front row for Formula BMW Asia race in Beijing Team Meritus scored a double 1-2 in qualifying for rounds 7 and 8 of the AFOS Formula BMW Asia series at the Goldenport International Circuit in Beijing, China. Series leader Marchy LEE...

All Meritus front row for Formula BMW Asia race in Beijing

Team Meritus scored a double 1-2 in qualifying for rounds 7 and 8 of the AFOS Formula BMW Asia series at the Goldenport International Circuit in Beijing, China. Series leader Marchy LEE Yin Kin will start from pole position for Monarch Lubricants Redbull Team Meritus, after outpacing his Moroccan team mate Mehdi Bennani by 0.3 secs in both sessions.

Former Meritus driver Hanss Lin Po-Heng (Belgravia Motorsports) will start behind the Meritus duo in both races tomorrow (Sunday). Conditions were tricky at the 2.39km Goldenport Circuit, where the drivers soon learned they had to be gentle on their new tires to avoid rapid degradation further into the tire wear.

Meritus' third driver, young Malaysian rookie Nik Iruwan scored his best ever qualifying result, with sixth place in both sessions. This gives Meritus a clean sweep of fastest driver (Lee), fastest Rookie (Bennani) and fastest Junior Scholarship driver (Iruwan).

Although both sessions appeared trivial for Chinese racer Lee (HKG), who has won all 6 rounds of the championship so far, the reality was very different. "We made a setup change at the beginning of the first session, which was very effective, but then we made a second change near the end which made the car harder to drive, so I had to come in again to revert back. I still managed to get a few fast laps in before the session ended, so I'm happy with the car. The team did a great job to find the right balance, and all credit goes to them for my pole positions," said Lee.

Looking ahead to what he considers one of his home races, Lee is confident he can keep the lead, but his eyes will be on his mirrors for any chargers. "The circuit is quite tight for overtaking, and the grip is quite low, but I know that Mehdi [Bennani] and Hanss [Lin] will be pushing me from the start. I'm looking forward to some action in front of the Chinese crowd, and I hope their support will carry me to the chequered flag," added Lee.

Lee's Meritus team mate Bennani was quick to get to grips with the tight circuit, as this was his first visit to Beijing. In fact in the first session, Bennani and his team mate Iruwan were the only 2 drivers in the top six who had never driven this circuit - the others raced here in the final event of the 2003 championship.

"The car is feeling very good to me, and although I am behind Marchy [Lee], I think we can have a good battle in the races tomorrow. The track does not have very much grip, so the corners should be very interesting," said Bennani.

Youngster Iruwan (19) was delighted with his qualifying performance, but is holding his celebrations until after the race tomorrow. "It is a great feeling to see all our hard work paying off, but I'm a little disappointed with the second session because I missed fifth place by just 0.149 secs. I hope to capitalise on my third row start and prove I can race with the front-runners," said Iruwan. Iruwan has made great progress in this his first season in cars, after great success in karts since the age of 9, and is exceeding all expectations.

-www.MeritusRacing.com

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Mehdi Bennani , Lin Po-Heng