AP: Meritus Racing rounds 13, 14 preview

Lee finally receives title while Malaysian Iruwan aims for another podium Chinese racing champion Marchy LEE Yin-Kin (HKG) will finally officially receive the 2004 Formula BMW Asia Driver Champion title this weekend in Korea, despite having won...

Lee finally receives title while Malaysian Iruwan aims for another podium

Chinese racing champion Marchy LEE Yin-Kin (HKG) will finally officially receive the 2004 Formula BMW Asia Driver Champion title this weekend in Korea, despite having won the title 3 races ago. The Monarch Lubricants Red Bull Team Meritus driver will be awarded the trophy after the final rounds on Sunday (17 October), at the Taebaek Everland circuit. Meanwhile Lee's Meritus team mate Nik Iruwan will be looking to repeat his stunning performance at the recent Chinese Grand Prix to top off his impressive first year of car racing.

Although the title is confirmed, Lee will still be pushing hard in Korea, as he tries to break the record of most wins in a season of Formula BMW Asia. Last year's champion, Tung Ho-Pin also of Team Meritus, won 10 out of 14 races. Lee is on 10 wins from 12 races, and is determined to take at least one more victory.

"I clinched the title in Japan, but I've still been pushing since then, because the last race was the Chinese Grand Prix, and this Korea race is for the most wins in a season. I am confident the team and I can reach our goal, and it would be the perfect way to end a great season. I have never been to this track before, but with help from the team we should find a good setup quickly which will help me with finding the best racing line," said Lee.

Lee won the first ever race at the Chinese GP, with a thrilling victory in the Saturday Formula BMW Asia support race. Although a race incident took Lee out of the second support race at the GP, his young team mate Nik Iruwan stepped in to claim the top points finish, maintaining Meritus' perfect podium record this year. Iruwan actually finished second in the race, but the winner Moreno Soeprapto is not registered for the whole series and so does not receive any points. This was Iruwan's first podium finish, and is an incredible achievement considering this is his first year in car racing.

"I still smile every time I think about my last race in Shanghai. It was such an incredible feeling to go up onto the podium, especially at that amazing circuit. We have already surpassed our goal for my first season in cars, but I will be doing everything I can to get back onto the podium this time in Korea. Now I know I can do it, and I can't wait for my next one!" said a grinning Iruwan.

Meritus' other driver also has a lot to go for this weekend. Moroccan Mehdi Bennani has already clinched the Rookie class title, but he is only 8 points adrift of second in the overall standings, behind Korean Kyong-Ouk You. Bennani had bad luck at the Chinese GP support races, and this has spurred him on to try even harder at these two final races to complete a Meritus 1-2 in the drivers' championship, repeating the teams achievement in the 2003 season.

"I have thought a lot about my races in Shanghai, but I have to put those behind me now and focus on my next races. This is another circuit I have never been to, but I have proved this year that I can adapt to new tracks quickly, and I hope to be on the pace before qualifying on Saturday. I want to end my season on a high, and second place in the drivers' championship would be a perfect compliment to my Rookie championship," said Bennani.

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 , Moreno Soeprapto , Marchy Lee