Buller on pole in Macau. Macau, China -- In the closing stages of the 30-minute qualifying session, Will Buller (GBR/17/Eurointernational) snatched pole position for season-closing Round 15 of Formula BMW Pacific in support of the 56th Macau...
Buller on pole in Macau.
Macau, China -- In the closing stages of the 30-minute qualifying session, Will Buller (GBR/17/Eurointernational) snatched pole position for season-closing Round 15 of Formula BMW Pacific in support of the 56th Macau Grand Prix.
Buller, one of several drivers racing on the iconic Guia Circuit for the first time, drove a 2:28.198 to secure pole position for Sunday's race, edging out his teammate Felipe Nasr (BRA/17) by four-tenths of a second. Newly crowned Formula BMW Pacific Drivers Classification winner Rio Haryanto (INA/16/Questnet Team Qi-Meritus) was a further five-hundredths of a second behind and will start from third on the grid.
Jim Pla (FRA/17/Eurointernational) was fourth quickest, while 2007 Formula BMW Asia winner Jazeman Jaafar (MAS/17/Raikkonen Robertson Racing) rounded out the top five. Formula BMW Pacific Junior Chris Wootton (AUS/20/Eurasia Motorsport) qualified sixth, with fellow Juniors Axcil Jefferies (ZIM/15/Eurasia Motorsport) and Steel Guiliana (AUS/17/Atlantic Racing Team) in eighth and twelfth, respectively.
With the Drivers Classification, Rookie Cup and Team titles having been decided during the penultimate rounds in Japan, the series regulars and guest drivers all have nothing to lose as they compete in Macau. After a successful debut in 2008, Formula BMW Pacific returns for its season finale in 2009, this time with a record 23-strong field.
Lap times began to fall dramatically during the session, with front-runners Buller, Pla and Nasr, the reigning Formula BMW Europe winner, each trying to outdo the other. With only a few minutes remaining, many of the drivers gave it their all and set their best times, including Haryanto, who said he was happy to have been able to set his best time as the clock ran out.
For some, however, the qualifying session was a cruel reminder of the driving precision required on the Guia Circuit. While some admitted they needed to find better pace for Saturday's race, others were disappointed by their qualifying efforts. Facu Regalia (ESP/17/Eurointernational), the winner of Rounds 13 and 14 in Okayama, had his session end early as he hit the barrier at Matsuya, while a few minutes later, Fahmi Ilyas (MAS/17/E-Rain Racing) hit the barrier at Maternity Bend.
With the top five drivers within a second of each other, Sunday's race is expected to be an exciting one, and the perfect ending to the 2009 Formula BMW Pacific season.
Formula BMW Pacific Drivers' Quotes:
1st Will Buller: "At the start we were fast, but then it became difficult to get a clear lap because of traffic. The team came on the radio and said there was one more lap to go and I really didn't think I would get it in, but I go the extra lap and gave it my all. I'm really pleased to be here and it's a really nice circuit to drive."
2nd Felipe Nasr: "It's okay to be second. It's a shame, because I know I could do the pole position and yet there was always so much traffic that it was difficult to get the rhythm to get the laps. I think in Macau you need to also be a little bit lucky. For me, this circuit is amazing, fun and I've never seen something before like this. It will be difficult -- for sure, from the start and then at Lisboa, it will be big trouble so you must have a good position."
3rd Rio Haryanto: "The guys ahead of me race in Europe and have more experience, but then again I'm experienced in having raced here last year. But last year I didn't do well and was far off the pace. I think P3 is a good position to start because after the start there's a long straight and I hope to be able to take advantage there. We'll see how tomorrow goes. I don't have to worry about anything, the championship has been won and now I really want to be on the podium."
Top Formula BMW Junior Chris Wootton: "Today wasn't too bad, even though I think I was expecting more for myself. I thought I could have done better, but it is a good result and I should probably be more thankful. I'm definitely enjoying Macau more this time around and though I could have done better, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race."