AP: Team Meritus rounds 9, 10 summary

Lee wins again in Formula BMW Asia Monarch Lubricants Red Bull Team Meritus driver Marchy Lee (HKG) returned to his winning ways in Japan this weekend at the Autopolis circuit, Fukuoka, taking victory in rounds 9 and 10 of the AFOS Formula BMW...

Lee wins again in Formula BMW Asia

Monarch Lubricants Red Bull Team Meritus driver Marchy Lee (HKG) returned to his winning ways in Japan this weekend at the Autopolis circuit, Fukuoka, taking victory in rounds 9 and 10 of the AFOS Formula BMW Asia series. Filipino youngster Tyson Sy (Minardi Team Asia) had a stunning weekend, taking second in both races. Former Meritus driver Hanss Lin Po-Heng (Belgravia Motorsports) was third in round 9, while current Meritus driver Mehdi Bennani (MAR) claimed third in round 10.

Lee had two textbook races, starting from pole and leading until the chequered flag. In the morning race (round 9) he was pressured by Sy in the opening few laps, and was forced to defend himself before pulling out a slight lead and holding it till the end of the race. The afternoon race (round 10) was less troublesome, with Lee etching out a lead at the beginning, which he held for the whole 10 lap race. Although these two victories seemed straight forward, it was because of the extra focus that Lee put into this event after breaking his winning streak in Beijing last month.

"We worked really hard this weekend to ensure I had the best chance for victory. The engineers and I were very efficient in testing to come up with a very good setup before qualifying, which helped me to my pole positions. Then in the races I made sure I got a good start, and pushed hard enough to stretch out a lead without risking any silly mistakes. I am really satisfied with our performance this weekend, especially at this very technical circuit," said a delighted Lee.

Lee's team mate Bennani had a tougher time, with a poor qualifying giving him a fifth place finish in round 9, and a slight mistake on the last lap of round 10 costing him second place.

"I was going strong in second place in the afternoon race, but I tried too hard to keep Tyson [Sy] behind me and braked too late on my last lap, causing a flatspot on my tyre and letting Tyson past. It was a disappointing end to the weekend, but at least I was the top Rookie in both races, and I reclaimed third place in the championship," said Bennani.

Meritus youngster Nik Iruwan (MAL) saw his potentially best race weekend fall apart when he was given a one minute penalty for jumping the start in round 10. Iruwan was hampered by bad qualifying in round 9 to finish eighth, although still the top BMW Junior Scholarship driver and pushing championship runner-up You (BMW Korea E-Rain) very hard during the race. Round 10 saw him start from fifth, after his best qualifying ever, and he launched into fourth at the lights, fighting hard to keep Pena (Minardi Team Asia) behind him. Meanwhile Lin had rocketed from last to fifth by lap two, and put in an ambitious move on Iruwan, which ended in contact, putting Lin out of the race and damaging Iruwan's rear wing, which severely affected his car along the straights. All this fighting was to no avail when his 1 minute penalty dropped him down to eleventh in the official results.

"I was feeling really good in both races. I was pushing You hard in the morning race, but didn't want to risk a daring move in case it took me out of the second race. In the second race I was keeping pace in fourth, and defending well. Hanss [Lin] came up beside me and I left him space, knowing he could never get past me, but he began to understeer into me and we touched, which ended his race and bent my rear wing. Then after the race we were told about the penalty, and it wiped out all our hard work. It is very disappointing, but I still gained a huge amount of experience and confidence from both races, which will be invaluable to me as my racing career progresses" said a slightly disheartened Iruwan.

Looking ahead to the next event, which supports the inaugural Chinese F1 Grand Prix (September 25-26), Lee is relishing the opportunity to continue winning at what he considers one of his home races.

"I won 1 race and came fourth in the other in Beijing, but that's not good enough for me. I want to take both wins this time in Shanghai, especially because it will be in front of the F1 crowd and in front of the F1 teams. The Chinese are getting so excited about the event, and I want to give them a local hero to cheer for, especially after China's incredible performance at the Olympics," said Lee.

Meritus will be holding driver evaluation sessions in Malaysia and China towards the end of the year, where young up-and-coming racers can receive professional coaching, and where Meritus will make their 2005 driver selection. Interested parties should visit www.MeritusRacing.com

Meritus is the most successful formula racing team in Asia, with 13 titles in their 8 year history, and no less than 3 Asian drivers who have gone on to drive F1 cars. The team brings top level European racing services into the booming Asian motor racing market, which helps talented drivers maximise their potential, and gives sponsors unlimited exposure opportunities in the exciting world of motorsports.


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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Mehdi Bennani , Tyson Sy , Marchy Lee