FORMULA BMW UK ROUNDS 1-2 REPORT: VICTORIOUS HOWSON LEADS CHAMPIONSHIP Matt Howson got his bid for the 2005 Formula BMW UK Championship title off to a near-perfect start by winning round one at Donington Park. Coupled with his competitive fourth...
FORMULA BMW UK ROUNDS 1-2 REPORT: VICTORIOUS HOWSON LEADS CHAMPIONSHIP
Matt Howson got his bid for the 2005 Formula BMW UK Championship title off to a near-perfect start by winning round one at Donington Park. Coupled with his competitive fourth place in race two, this result gives Matt a seven-point championship lead even at this early stage of the season.
This year sees Howson leading the brand new Filsell Motorsport team, who chased his services specifically because they believed he had the ideal blend of strong talent, experience and level temperament to help them develop in their first year of competition. The Howson/Filsell combination has been near the top of the timesheets throughout winter testing, and Matt duly qualified third for both the Donington races.
He signalled his intentions early in race one by spending the opening laps side-by-side with Ross Curnow. The duo swapped second place a number of times before Howson claimed the position for good into the Old Hairpin on lap two, allowing him to pull away and chase down race leader Nathan Antunes.
By half-distance Howson was really putting Antunes under pressure, and as the race leader tried to respond he slid wide at the Old Hairpin, spun back across the track and handed Matt a clear lead.
"Initially I was wondering how he was going to spin and which side of him I should go," said Howson. "Then when I sailed past him I had a brief feeling of relief then had to go straight back to concentrating because even when you've got the lead you've still got to drive at 90 per cent at least to maintain the gap."
He kept his concentration, eased away from Curnow and won by 2.3s in the end.
"I knew I had to get a big score here and I particularly wanted to get a good result for Filsell Motorsport in their first race," said Howson afterwards. "I don't want to get involved in any accidents this year, and there were a few moments with Stian Sorlie and Curnow when we were very close but they all raced really well and very cleanly."
Race two was mildly less successful, as an early slip dropped Matt to fifth place. A mid-race stoppage and restart gave him less time than usual to recover, and Howson had to be content with fourth place -- still a good enough result to maintain his championship lead.
"The track was very different, really dirty," he said. "I braked late and slightly off-line when I was being pressured into the chicane, and because of that I came out of the corner slowly and was passed by several cars. Then I lost another place trying to repass one of them.
"After that I had to be careful and bring home some points, and as my car came on strong late in the race I managed to pass Curnow for fourth.
"It's not ideal -- two poles and two wins would have been ideal -- but we are leading the championship and that's always good. We've just got to work on our set-up a little bit, try to race cleverly all year and keep getting points."
Howson's championship quest continues at Thruxton on 1st May.