End of Formula BMW Season in Macau -- A Spectacular Non Plus Ultra Atlantic Racing Team had a grand ol' time at the 55th Macau Grand Prix in China. The team arrived on the Monday before the race weekend and was greeted with unusually warm...
End of Formula BMW Season in Macau -- A Spectacular Non Plus Ultra
Atlantic Racing Team had a grand ol' time at the 55th Macau Grand Prix in China. The team arrived on the Monday before the race weekend and was greeted with unusually warm weather that lasted until the weekend was over. The team went right away to work on the rented car (as one of their team cars was still in transfer from the Sao Paulo GP) for their second driver, Hong Wei Cao, the 15 year young Chinese National, who was racing in addition to their regular driver Gabby Chaves.
"The idea of having two 15-yr old drivers was absolutely appealing for the team, especially as it was the first ever Macau GP event with Formula BMW. We did our outmost to get the rental car to our high mechanical standards; the crew, with Mark Elliott as their leader, worked relentlessly on it and finally after 2 days of hard work it seemed that all equipment on the car was ready to be going onto this demanding road course," says Ingo Strackerjan, Team Manager. "But as it would show later on all efforts were failing and we basically looked like as we did not know anything about the FBMW's. A real sad affair and a great disappointment to the team and HongWei. A very expensive lesson to say the least!"
The practice went as follows: HongWei left the pits and creeped to the next run-off with mechanical problems, but not giving up he re-started and went 3 more corners at low speed -- then ended his practice with half a lap done. It went much better for Gabby Chaves -- he left the pits and learned the track ASAP -- putting some impressive lap times together.
After virtually replacing all electrical wiring, computers and whatever might have caused the unknown problems, the team and the extremely helpful FBMW technical staff were satisfied that the car would now perform like a regular FB2 car. But....
Here comes Saturday -- qualifying; Oh yes, HongWei went out of the pits and again the gremlins (to be polite to the people renting the team this "race car") hacked into something which made the engine sputter, backfire and not run at all. This total failure of the car meant disaster for HongWei as he missed the practice and now the so-important qualifying session. The FIA Stewards, within their rights and regulations, determined that he had missed the 110% lap time mark (by 2 seconds -- on a 2:40 track) and he was disqualified from the race. A great disappointment for the family, crew, driver and the Chinese Press.
"We, as a team, felt really bad having let him down in his quest to be one of the youngest drivers in Macau," continued Ingo. "Naturally we were to blame and we took it not lightly for sure as it was our responsibility."
Again -- Gabby rescued the team's spirit. He performed in his usual stellar driving style until some minutes before the end of the qualifying, then in P4. One corner came into his way and he crashed quite heavily. The Atlantic Team's paddock was an attraction to onlookers -- one car quite demolished, the other not running. Emotions went quite high!
When the dust settled the crew went to work on repairing Gabby's #53 FBMW -- an all-nighter until the early Sunday morning solved all issues and Gabby's car looked like it should look, with a nice shiny gearbox and four wheels properly attached again!
The race: anybody knows Macau? Two words -- spectacularly lunatic! Gabby's start was one of the best he ever had, minimum of wheelspin and right away going to work, catching up from P7 to P4 just before the Lisboe Turn One. What a sight! Others scrambled, he's trying to catch the three foreign guest drivers, not running for points. Fighting at times the P5 driver, who seemed to have lost interest in this after the third lap, Gabby just walked away and put on times under the '30's marks. The end of the race, which was marked by a red flag situation, after some blue, yellow, double yellow and safety car, saw Gabby finish a solid 4th place overall and 1st among the FBMW Pacific Championship drivers. This was the highlight of our season with Gabby -- the only real crash and the placing he so deserves. Congratulations to Gabby Chaves!
"As a team owner/manager I would also like to congratulate all of the Organizers, FBMW Staff and Officials for having ran this FBMW Pacific Series in a true Motorsport style, in fairness, openness and with tremendous dedication. There is always room to make things better but when one has been in Macau -- what else can be procured as a climax and end of a terrific race season. Macau, with it's tourist sites, good food and fantastic race weekend is a place not to be missed. We will be back next year, for sure!"