ROUND ONE REPORT: SWR KICKS OFF 2005 WITH DOUBLE TOP TEN Team SWR had plenty to smile about in the first round of the 2005 Formula BMW UK Championship at Donington Park -- with three drivers running competitively in the top ten and recent...
ROUND ONE REPORT: SWR KICKS OFF 2005 WITH DOUBLE TOP TEN
Team SWR had plenty to smile about in the first round of the 2005 Formula BMW UK Championship at Donington Park -- with three drivers running competitively in the top ten and recent addition Richard Keen taking fifth place.
Keen signed for SWR just a week before the opening round, joining Lars Viljoen, Matt Harris and Paul Rees in the team's expanded Formula BMW line-up. It was the newcomer who led the way in first qualifying, Keen taking eighth on the grid. Harris was close behind in 12th, while the less experienced Viljoen and Rees lined-up 16th and 18th.
"I'm actually a little disappointed for them," said SWR Team Principal Trevor Powell. "They were all setting top ten times in the pre-race test and I know they have the ability to qualify higher. But it's only the first session of the season, so I know they will all learn from this morning and be in much better shape in the race because they are all more than quick enough."
Powell's prediction was absolutely right, as the SWR quartet immediately began charging forward in the race. Keen leapt to sixth at the start, while Harris lost ground initially but hacked his through the traffic and broke into the top ten within three laps, only for his race to come to an early end as he spun while battling Simon Walker-Hansell and was struck by his rival.
"I'd love to say it wasn't, but it was completely my fault," Matt admitted. "The race started off really well -- I was passing people and suddenly realised I was much further forward than I expected. Then I was next to Walker-Hansell coming into the chicane, trying to brake a bit later than him and I just lost the rear end and went round, unfortunately."
Viljoen and Rees were providing plenty of action as they forged up the order, with Lars impressing greatly as he moved from 16th to ninth within just five laps. He held the place to the end, taking a points finish in his first car race.
"To start 16th and finish ninth in my first proper race is brilliant, really fantastic," said Viljoen. "Ry Leon caught me towards the end and we were just tussling and constantly overtaking each other, it was really good racing. I'm really chuffed."
His team-mate Rees was less fortunate -- finding his early progress negated when he had to take to the gravel at Redgate to avoid a spinner.Paul finished 16th, but had been in line for at least 12th place.JClearly quicker than the cars around him, Rees belied his inexperience to set the ninth fastest race lap.
"I'm a bit disappointed because I could have been a lot higher up, but when someone spins right in front of you, what can you do?" he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed it though, it was close racing out there."
A little way ahead of all this drama, Keen got his SWR career and his 2005 title challenge off to an impressive start by eventually coming home fifth.
"It was pretty good from the start," he said. "Eighth on the grid wasn't ideal, but I made the best of it, made up some places and just kept it solid."
"I'm absolutely delighted with Richard's performance," said Powell. "The whole team moved forward during the race. Matt was going well before his incident, and it's great for Lars to score points considering his grid position and the fact that it's his first real race. You have to be impressed with Paul -- he probably has about 2,000 laps less experience than most of his rivals and he's fast enough to be in the top ten."