17-year old BMW Junior and Rookie driver Gianmarco Raimondo (Autotecnica), of St. Catherines, Ontario, won Round 2 of the 2008 Formula BMW Americas today at Laguna Seca Raceway. Raimondo finished 2.703 seconds ahead of American Alexander Rossi ...
17-year old BMW Junior and Rookie driver Gianmarco Raimondo (Autotecnica), of St. Catherines, Ontario, won Round 2 of the 2008 Formula BMW Americas today at Laguna Seca Raceway. Raimondo finished 2.703 seconds ahead of American Alexander Rossi (Eurointernational), 16, in the 17-lap contest to become the first Rookie driver in series history to win the opening two Rounds of the series.
Rossi, bouncing back from the disappointment of a blown engine while leading yesterday's Round 1 race, set a new race record of 1:27.668 minutes around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit on lap 16. Canadian Maxime Pelletier (Apex-HBR Racing Team), 17, drove a very strong race to finish on the third step of the podium after starting eighth. He made the move of the race with a daring inside pass of teammate Alexandre Ruiz to secure third on lap 11. Ruiz finished fourth and Giancarlo Vilarinho (Eurointernational) rounded out the top five.
Polesitter Ricardo Favoretto (Eurointernational) was unable to back up his career- best second place finish in Round 1. He went off on the first lap of race and was unable to continue.
The key to Raimondo's second victory was his ability to get away cleanly from his front row starting spot and lay down very quick times on cold tires on the race's restarts following today's two caution periods. The first yellow flag waved for Favoretto's off on the first lap and the second caution period came on lap six following David Ostella's (Eurointernational) off course in turn three. Ostella was able to continue following a stop in the pits, finishing ninth, three laps down to the field.
Overall and Rookie points leader Raimondo said, "I was a bit nervous during the caution periods, but I was able to get away from Alexander on the restarts and maintain the gap. My home race (the Canadian Grand Prix) is coming up next and I'm really looking forward to being a part of a Formula One weekend."
Rossi said, "The team stayed up most of last night to fix the car after yesterday's failure so I am pleased to get a podium finish for them. Overall, I was hoping for better results this weekend, but I'm happy to set a new race record and score some real points toward the championship."
Pelletier said, "In this morning's qualifying session something broke on the car so I had to reset my mind to focus on the race and move up from eighth. I was not expecting to pass anyone in turn nine, but it seemed that I was much faster than Ruiz through the corkscrew. It was very exciting as I was right on his gearbox. I thought about the outside, but then made the pass work on the inside."
This morning's qualifying session saw a refocused Favoretto take his first career Formula BMW pole with a new qualifying record of 1:26.987 minutes. Round 1 winner Raimondo was .300 seconds behind at a 1:27.287 minute lap. Rossi, breaking in a new engine, qualified third with a lap of 1:27.308. As in Round 1 qualifying, the top-six qualifiers were within one second of the pole time.
Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2008 Formula BMW Americas Championship will be held at the Canadian Grand Prix on June 6 - 9.