AP: Meritus Racing rounds 13, 14 report

26/10/2003 Spectacular finish for AFOS Formula BMW Asia Championship Rounds 13 and 14 of the AFOS Formula BMW Asia Championship may have been the last of this season, but they certainly did not disappoint. Red Golden Dragon Team Meritus ...

26/10/2003

Spectacular finish for AFOS Formula BMW Asia Championship

Rounds 13 and 14 of the AFOS Formula BMW Asia Championship may have been the last of this season, but they certainly did not disappoint. Red Golden Dragon Team Meritus continued their championship winning form, but not with the usual suspect, Tung Ho-Pin.

After a close fought qualifying on Saturday, the stage was set for a thriller. In the morning race, F-BMW Asia champion Tung started from the back after missing qualifying due to a broken gear box cable. His Meritus team mates Marchy Lee and Hanss Lin Po-Heng were first and second on the grid respectively. At the start the Lee pulled away but Lin did not see the 5 red lights go out and so was swallowed by the drivers behind him. He fought hard to re-gain his second place, then began to reel Lee in. Although he caught him, both their cars were too similar in speed to allow any over-taking.

"I had a nice gap at the beginning, so I took it easy to save the car for the next race. Then Hanss suddenly appeared in my mirrors so I picked up the pace to keep him behind me," said Lee.

"I tried many times to get past Marchy, but our cars were too similar and he was very good at defending," added Lin.

From 17th Tung made a rocket start and was in 7th after just 4 laps. He continued to battle his way through the field and finished 4th in his toughest race this year. Aside from his car problems, Tung also suffered food poisoning the night before the race, losing him sleep and vital strength for the big day.

In the afternoon race Meritus occupied the top 3 places, having qualified within 0.05seconds of each other. This time Lin was on pole, with Lee next to him and Tung right behind. At the start Lin made his customary launch start, and Tung found his way past Lee before the first corner.

The Meritus trio began pulling away from the rest, and the fighting really began. Tung was in Lin's gearbox for the first half of the 20 lap race, making several attempts to get past. Then Tung made a small mistake and Lee capitalized on it to pull up behind Tung. This allowed Lin to pull away as Tung and Lee battled for second spot. The two Chinese racers went through the hairpins side by side on several occasions, until they made contact and both went off into the gravel.

Lee was able to rejoin the track, but Tung was in too deep and was beached. Lee didn't lose any places, and eventually crossed the line in second.

"I am so happy with that race," said an ecstatic Lin afterwards. "Many of my potential sponsors were watching, which really helped me focus. They wanted me to win before they would sponsor me for next year, so I hope they are happy!"

"I had a bad start, but I still managed to keep up with Hanss and Ho-Pin," said Lee. "I had some great moves with Ho-Pin, but unfortunately the last one put us both in the sand. I was lucky to get back on track and finish second."

"I've had a tough weekend, but I tried my hardest to overcome the problems," said Tung. "The incident with Marchy was the last straw. I wish I could have won in front of my home crowd, but this is motor racing. I've had a great season, so I can't really complain."

Meritus' young Malaysian Rookie driver TJ Chin had an unfortunate week, suffering a big shunt on Thursday which put his car out of action until Sunday. He missed out on testing and qualifying, so his preparation for the race was far from ideal. "This was probably the most relaxing race this year because I hardly did any driving! But I would have much rather have had the chance to get competitive for the last race of the season," said a disappointed Chin.

Meritus Founder and President Peter Thompson was delighted with the racing. "We've had a strong focus on China all year, so this race was very important for us. The whole team did a great job, and I hope that we lived up to everybody's expectations. I also hope this event has shown Chinese corporations the unlimited benefits of motor racing, even outside of F1. With their support Meritus will continue to train Chinese drivers and engineers to turn China into a major force in international motor sports."

The success of Team Meritus would not be possible without the kind support of our sponsors Red Golden Dragon, Oris watches, Holiday Inn Lido, Pacific Regency Hotel Apartments, Pan Global Insurance, Holiday Inn Lido Place, Honeywell and Taiwan - Touch Your Heart.

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Ho-Pin Tung , Marchy Lee , Lin Po-Heng