AP: Meritus Racing Beijing race notes

Marchy Lee aims to continue domination of Formula BMW Asia Chinese racing sensation Marchy Lee Yin Kin (Team Meritus) from Hong Kong has completely dominated the 2004 AFOS Formula BMW Asia series, winning all 6 rounds so far, and he is...

Marchy Lee aims to continue domination of Formula BMW Asia

Chinese racing sensation Marchy Lee Yin Kin (Team Meritus) from Hong Kong has completely dominated the 2004 AFOS Formula BMW Asia series, winning all 6 rounds so far, and he is determined to continue his streak at what he considers his home race. Rounds 7 and 8 sees the best young racers in Asia move to the Goldenport International Circuit, in Beijing, China (14-15 August, 2004) - the first of two events to be held in the mainland. The Asian young-guns return to China at the end of September to support the inaugural China F1 Grand Prix.

After clinching rounds 5 and 6 at the Bira circuit in Thailand last month (July), Lee is feeling confident that he can maintain his perfect record in Beijing, especially as he will get a boost from racing in front of his home crowd. "I consider the Beijing and Shanghai races to be my home races, and I will be totally focussed on getting a good result. I hope that the spectators will also give me a hand by supporting me over the weekend!" said Lee.

This is not Lee's first visit to the Beijing circuit - he raced here in October last year, where he made his Formula BMW Asia debut also with Team Meritus. Racing against a field with a whole season in the car, Lee won one race and was runner-up in the other, demonstrating his ability to learn a new circuit and a new car in very little time. This time Lee will be more prepared, so he will be able to focus more on his racing.

"My race here last year was very special for me. I had no idea about the level of competitiveness nor about the car itself, but I still managed some great results. I hope that this year's race will bring even more joy!" said Lee.

Lee currently has a perfect score of 120 points in the championship, and his closest rival is Korean racer Kyong-Ouk You (BMW Korea E-Rain) on 79 points. Behind You is Lee's Meritus team mate Mehdi Bennani, from Morocco, on 57 points. Full championship standings can be found at www.MeritusRacing.com . This will be Bennani's first visit to the Beijing circuit, but he is confident this will not prevent him from fighting for the lead.

"I don't know this circuit, but I also didn't know the other 3 circuits we have raced so far, and my results have been quite good. I am confident in my ability to learn the circuit, especially with Meritus' success here last year, which should help me find the right setup sooner," said Bennani.

The young Moroccan is the best of a new breed of racers from Arab countries, where interest in motor racing was stirred by the first ever F1 race in Bahrain back in April, which was also host to the opening rounds of Formula BMW Asia. "I am very proud to be representing Morocco and the other Arabic countries, and I hope that I can lead the way for a new wave of Arabic racers. This series [Formula BMW Asia] is the perfect way for young racers like us to improve our race craft in preparation for the higher formulae. The competition is tough, the cars are very safe, and teams like Meritus provide top level services that help us develop all our skills, from racing line to car setup to fitness to PR skills. It's really a full-package formula that helps us advance as quickly as possible," said Bennani.

Meritus' third driver, young Malaysian rookie Nik Iruwan, has also greatly benefited from coaching from Meritus and BMW Motorsports. The 19 year old came into the series with 10 years of karting experience, but zero experience in cars. Since the first race in Bahrain, Iruwan has finished every single race, and has made great progress in his driving skills and fitness.

"My results haven't looked great on paper so far, but I have already surpassed mine and my team's expectations to-date. Thanks to BMW Motorsports and Meritus, I have learned to change gears without thinking, I understand about car setup and aero effects, and I'm learning to use my head to control my performance throughout an entire race weekend," said Iruwan.

Iruwan was one of 4 drivers to win a BMW scholarship before the season started, which gives him financial support as well as exclusive training sessions with BMW specialists. "BMW have been very supportive and I have learned a lot from them. Having 2 good drivers as team mates is great too, because we can talk about our problems on the track and we help each other out. I'm confident that I will continue to improve this season, and hope to start scoring some real results very soon," said Iruwan.

Meritus have been in Asia since 1996, and have helped countless young Asian drivers step up into international racing, including 3 drivers that have tested or raced in F1, the most famous being Takuma Sato (BAR Honda). As motorsports continues to develop in the region, Meritus sees even greater talent emerging in the future.

"Year after year we discover incredible talent in Asia, and it is very rewarding to nurture that talent and help it develop into a world-class racing driver. With motorsports booming in China and the Middle East, we're expecting a massive influx in eager youngsters into the sport, and we are putting programs into place to give these youngsters the best possible opportunities," said Peter Thompson, Founder and President of Meritus Racing.

The team is in the process of setting up driver training programs with partners in China and the Middle East, where novices can be introduced to motor racing in a safe, controlled environment, under the expert supervision of Meritus personnel. This allows the beginners and instructors to discover any natural talent, and then help them prepare for the step up into a racing series such as Formula BMW Asia.


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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Takuma Sato , Mehdi Bennani , Marchy Lee