AP: Round three Sepang race notes

Marchy Lee Takes Third Win in a Row Perfect track conditions with mid to high temperatures set the stage for Round 3 of Formula BMW Asia at Sepang International Circuit today, which saw current championship leader, Marchy Lee of Hong Kong take...

Marchy Lee Takes Third Win in a Row

Perfect track conditions with mid to high temperatures set the stage for Round 3 of Formula BMW Asia at Sepang International Circuit today, which saw current championship leader, Marchy Lee of Hong Kong take victory having qualified below expectations and starting from 5th on the grid. Behind him off the start was Meritus teammate, Mehdi Benani from Morocco who was to prove instrumental in Lee's win.

Starting from pole, Hanss Lin Po-Heng (Belgravia Motorsports) led the way in to the first corner. Over the next few corners Benani and Lee worked their way up to 3rd and 4th place respectively while promising Korean You Kyong-Ouk (BMW Korea E-Rain) maintained his 2nd position.

However, on just the second lap the action began in earnest. Through some aggressive driving, Benani overtook You for 2nd and proceeded to put pressure on leader Lin. Lee took You on the inside of the sharp right- hander at turn 4, and it was obvious that You was experiencing a problem.

Meanwhile, the tail end of the field held some interesting battles with Robert Boughey, Moreno Soeprapto and Tyson Sy of Minardi Team Asia charging through to midfield.

Malaysian hopeful Nik Iruwan in his first season of car racing, maintained a steady pace without incident throughout.

Into the third lap, Benani pressured Lin going in to Turn One, and a heroic overtaking attempt on the outside left Lin with little room to manoeuvre. The two came together with the loss of Benani's front nose cone, while a dejected Lin retired with a broken suspension.

That gave Lee the lead, which he held all the way to the chequered flag. "That was definitely a very exciting race," he said. "This has not been a good week for me, as I was not feeling well today. I'm very happy with the win. After Lin and Benani collided, I managed to distance myself from the next car. When I had gained a 9 second gap, I just maintained my pace till the end of the race."

The real action, however, were the battles for 3rd and 4th, and 5th and 6th. On lap 7, Tyson Sy caught up to Moreno Soeprapto in 3rd. It became a battle of wits between the teammates, with Sy trying every manoeuvre in the book to get the better of Soeprapto. Soeprapto defended his position superbly, and held his ground. "I didn't expect to be in 3rd place. It was a very tough fight throughout but I managed to pull it off and keep my position," said Soeprapto. Credit must also be given to Sy who kept the intense battle fair and clean.

Behind these two, Robert Boughey and Dado Pena slogged it out for the last 3 laps. At the end Pena came out tops with Boughey dropping down a few more places after being overtaken and spinning on the final lap.

Malaysian Nik Iruwan, understandably disappointed with his 12th place, gained more experience in the car and is confident of a better showing next time out.

The ultra-modern Formula BMW which allows 15-year-olds to enter the world of motor racing has been lining up on the grid since the 2002 season. It sets standards above all on the safety technology front. The single-seater, driven by a 140 bhp BMW motorcycle engine that takes it up to 230 km/h, features a carbon-fibre chassis, fulfils the safety requirements of the much higher-performance Formula 3 cars, and even matches certain Formula One standards.

Formula BMW Asia, now in its second season, runs as part of the Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS) organised by Motorsport Asia Limited. This year the series is run over 14 rounds at seven venues in Bahrain, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, China and Japan. It will culminate in a second Formula One Grand Prix support race at Shanghai in September.

In 2004, Formula BMW will be staged in four different series held in Germany, the UK, Asia and the USA. Formula BMW events will be part of the Formula One support programme on five occasions around the world. All the series go hand-in-hand with a comprehensive education and coaching programme, as well as substantial financial backing for promising young talent. The most distinguished graduate of this "talent hothouse" is Ralf Schumacher. The star of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team made his racing debut in the junior class in 1992.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "Our junior talent promotion scheme is an intensive basic education for successful kart drivers who want to move up into Formula racing. Our priorities are to create a level playing field through technically identical vehicles and scrupulously defined regulations, and to ensure maximum safety."

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Mario Theissen , Moreno Soeprapto , Tyson Sy , Marchy Lee , Lin Po-Heng
Teams Williams