Raimondo sweeps first Formula BMW Americas meeting Record setting wins puts series' Junior Scholarship Driver in championship lead May 20, 2008 - St. Catharines, Ontario - Any racer would be happy with a win to start the racing season, so it is...
Raimondo sweeps first Formula BMW Americas meeting
Record setting wins puts series' Junior Scholarship Driver in championship lead
May 20, 2008 - St. Catharines, Ontario - Any racer would be happy with a win to start the racing season, so it is difficult to describe how seventeen-year-old Gianmarco Raimondo must be feeling after taking the win in both races of the Formula BMW Americas series opening round this past weekend at historic Laguna Seca Raceway. Add to that, the fact that Gianmarco is the first rookie ever to win both opening round contests and only the second driver to do so since the series started here in 2004.
Racing for series veterans Team Autotecnica, Gianmarco's races were described as "smooth, consistent and mature" as he would deal with the initial excitement of running during a major racing weekend at a famed circuit. The Formula BMW Junior would show his skills under challenging conditions in race one and prove to be the the one to watch in race two.
But first we deal with the excitement factor. "I have raced at some well-know circuits before like Sebring and Road Atlanta" noted Gianmarco, "but that was during during series-specific weekends with mostly family members as spectators. This weekend at Laguna, Formula BMW is a support race for a much bigger series with lots of fans in attendance and this is our first real taste of big-league events. It certainly brings up the tension level as you hope to put on a good show for the fans and the series."
The St. Catharines, Ontario teen would not disappoint as he would be quick through all practice sessions and then out the car P3 on the starting grid for race one. Utilizing Formula 1 style standing starts, the first race got underway and Gianmarco held position through the early laps and and engaged in battles for position. He would move to P2 when the leader went off with a problem and from there the battle began. Very quick through the final series of turns, he could close on the leader but not quite make the pass. Then, going into turn four Gianmarco would go wide and with all four wheels in the dirt, keep his foot to the floor and drive the corner as if it were an autocross putting the car back on track and still on the heels of the leader. Keeping contact with the lead car allowed him to drive cleanly past when the leader put himself off course two corners later. Gianmarco would come onto the front straight in the lead and take his first victory on the weekend.
On Sunday, Gianmarco would put the Team Autotecnica No. 50 FB02 on the front row in qualifying. Starting from P2, he would slot into place as the lights went out and by corner four was in the lead when the pole sitter went off course. From there, Gianmarco would control the race through a series of restarts following two full course caution periods. His ability to run quickly on cold tires made all the difference as he could pull away from the field on each restart and maintain a gap over second place. He would score his second win of the weekend with a margin of 2.703 seconds.
With the double win, Gianmarco leads both the overall and rookie championship standings.
"I am really very happy to get the win for Team Autotecnica and for the Formula BMW Junior programme" commented Gianmarco during post race interviews. "My expectations coming in were to just have a good result and work towards a win at some point in the season. This is more that I could have hoped for and I really have to thank everyone at Team Autotecnica for their support and encouragement and for giving me a great race car. I especially want to thank my parents for supporting my dreams of a career in motorsport. I am sure this weekend's results have made them feel good about our decision to move up to cars this year."
Gianmarco will next be on track at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal during the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix event, June 6-8. There will be one qualifying session and two races in front of an international audience and all of the F1 teams. Updates will be provided throughout the weekend on Gianmarco's web site www.gianmarcoraimondo.com
-credit: Level Ten Communications