SEVENTH STRAIGHT TEAM CROWN FOR MERITUSGP, RIO TAKES DRIVERS' TITLE OKAYAMA, JAPAN (NOV 1, 2009): Questnet Team Qi-MeritusGP continued its stranglehold on the Formula BMW Pacific when it won the team title for the seventh straight year while its...
SEVENTH STRAIGHT TEAM CROWN FOR MERITUSGP, RIO TAKES DRIVERS' TITLE
OKAYAMA, JAPAN (NOV 1, 2009): Questnet Team Qi-MeritusGP continued its stranglehold on the Formula BMW Pacific when it won the team title for the seventh straight year while its driver Rio Haryanto won home the drivers' crown.
Rio finished second to guest driver Facu Regalia (Eurointernational) in Round 14 at the Okayama International Circuit, but collected full points for the ninth consecutive race as guest drivers are not eligible to collect points.
In a wet 12-lap race, Facu clocked 25:35.145 in a superior car while Rio cruised to the finishing line 21.681 second behind, safe in the knowledge that he had the championship sewn up.
"I'm very happy, it's been a very long and very tough season and to win is just fantastic," said the 16-year-old Rio, who is the sixth MeritusGP driver to win the title.
"Honestly, I didn't think I would earn maximum points for nine straight races, but after Sepang and winning four races in Indonesia, it just kept going. Macau is an interesting track and there will be some really good drivers there so I will try my best. Now I have nothing to lose, so I will go all-out and try to get onto the top of the podium."
Rio, who had won six of the 13 previous races, has an unassailable lead after collecting 229 points. E-Rain's Gary Thompson is assured of finishing second overall with 180 points while Axcil Jefferies (Eurasia Motorsport) is third with 148 points.
In the team championship, MeritusGP has accumulated 334 points with one final race in Macau to come on Nov 22. There is a close fight for second place as E-Rain and Eurasia have 280.63 points and 278.25 points respectively. Team Holzer PFX (173.5 points) is fourth, followed by Atlantic Racing Team (172.5 points), Ao's Racing Team (78 points) and Motaworld Racing and Asia Racing Team with six points each.
With heavy rain prior to and during the race, Round 14 began under the Safety Car for the opening two laps. After the Safety Car came in and racing got underway, Regalia pulled away and set about putting a distance between him and the chasing pack.
At the half-way point, he had an impressive margin of 14.465 seconds from Rio, in just the second wet race of his career. Rio started from second on the grid, and maintained his position throughout, despite making a braking error early in the race and spinning.
The inclement weather may have been of benefit to James Kovacic, who said that he knew he could do well in the rain, despite qualifying near the back of the field. An error early in the race put him at the back of the running, but the Australian steadily worked his way up through the field. On the final lap, he managed to edge past Calvin Wong (Team Holzer PFX) to grab the last podium spot.