AP: Team Meritus Fukuoka qualifying notes

Lee on pole again in Formula BMW Asia Monarch Lubricants Red Bull Team Meritus driver Marchy Lee Yin Kin (HKG) is back to normal with another 2 pole positions for rounds 9 & 10 of the 2004 AFOS Formula BMW Asia series, which is at the Autopolis...

Lee on pole again in Formula BMW Asia

Monarch Lubricants Red Bull Team Meritus driver Marchy Lee Yin Kin (HKG) is back to normal with another 2 pole positions for rounds 9 & 10 of the 2004 AFOS Formula BMW Asia series, which is at the Autopolis circuit in Fukuoka, Japan this weekend (Sept 4-5). Young Filipino racer Tyson Sy (Minardi Team Asia) lines up next to him for both races tomorrow, while Korean racer Kyoung-Ouk You (BMW Korea E-Rain) starts from third in the morning race (round 9). Lee's Meritus team mate Mehdi Bennani (MAR) is in third for the second race (round 10).

After his perfect winning streak was broken at the last event in Beijing (mechanical problem after contact with another driver), Lee was determined to re-stamp his authority on the series, which he did most convincingly with a double pole-position, and by a significant margin. Lee was 0.154secs ahead in round 9 qualifying, and a massive 0.461secs ahead in round 10 qualifying around this 4.7km circuit. The rest of the field was bunched up, with a second separating second from tenth. Lee set identical times in both sessions (1min 54.076), but was technically faster in the second session because everyone else went slower as the conditions changed.

"I wanted to give myself the best chance possible of winning this weekend, and starting from pole is the best way to do that! I had some minor mechanical problems, but I still managed to get to grips with this new track for me, and managed to put together a few good laps. I can still go faster though; I made a mistake in the second session which cost me about 2-tenths," said a delighted Lee.

Lee's engine compression appeared to be down when Meritus engineers looked at his car data, but it did not seem to affect his performance. The track was new for all three Meritus drivers, but they all managed to find the right lines before qualifying. Bennani was fifth in the first session but improved to third in the second as he uncovered some of this technical track's secrets, possibly after discussions with Lee.

"The track is very technical, but when you get it right it is so rewarding. The setting, the combination of corners, everything is so great here. I'm really looking forward to the races tomorrow, and I'm confident I'll be able to take back a few places," said Bennani.

Young Malaysian rookie Nik Iruwan continues his rapid progress, setting another best qualifying result with fifth in the second session, after qualifying sixth previously in Beijing. After some slight hiccups in the first session, Iruwan managed to string together the corners to record a very respectable time of 1min 54.818 in the second session.

"I just couldn't get a good lap together in the first session. I had a wrong approach. But for the second session I was more focussed, and I'm delighted with my fifth place. This is where I should have been for the first session too, but I am still learning so much every time I'm in the car. I will be doing my best to improve on my grid positions in the races tomorrow, and maybe even get onto the podium!" said Iruwan.

Iruwan has made meteoric progress in this his first year of car racing after a successful karting career. Having finished every single race in the season so far, Iruwan has moved from the bottom of the grid to barking at the heels of the leaders. In final practice yesterday he was third fastest of all the competitors. This proves that his natural ability is being developed very effectively thanks to the great Formula BMW Asia series, as well as his team Meritus.

"Nik continues to progress race-by-race, and he continues to exceed our expectations. The whole team is behind him as we are confident we have found one of the Malaysian racing stars of the future" said Firhat Mokhzani, Team Meritus Managing Director.

Once again Team Meritus sweeps all three categories for the start of round 10 tomorrow, with the fastest driver (Lee), fastest rookie (Bennani) and fastest BMW Scholarship driver (Iruwan), which proves that the team's expertise is beneficial to drivers at any level.

<pre> Qualifying Round 9 POS No Driver/Nat Team Time 1 38 Marchy LEE Ying-Kin (HKG) Monarch Lubricants Red Bull Team Meritus 1min 54.076 2 3 Tyson SY (PHI) Minardi Team Asia 1min 54.230 3 61 YOU Kyoung-Ouk (KOR) BMW Korea E-Rain 1min 54.430 4 2 Dado PENA (PHI) Minardi Team Asia 1min 54.577 5 24 Mehdi BENNANI (MAR) Team Meritus 1min 54.587 6 88 Hanss LIN Po-Heng (TPE) Belgravia Motorsport 1min 54.926

Qualifying Round 10 POS No Driver/Nat Team Time 1 38 Marchy LEE Ying-Kin (HKG) Monarch Lubricants Red Bull Team Meritus 1min 54.076 2 3 Tyson SY (PHI) Minardi Team Asia 1min 54.537 3 24 Mehdi BENNANI (MAR) Team Meritus 1min 54.664 4 2 Dado PENA (PHI) Minardi Team Asia 1min 54.670 5 11 Nik Iruwan NIK IZANI (MAS) Team Meritus 1min 54.818 6 61 YOU Kyoung-Ouk (KOR) BMW Korea E-Rain 1min 55.150

-www.MeritusRacing.com

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Mehdi Bennani , Tyson Sy , Marchy Lee