Hinchcliffe Podiums in First Formula BMW Event 17 year-old Canadian Rookie Impresses at Lime Rock TORONTO, ON. -- (June 1, 2004) 17-year old James Hinchcliffe competed in his first event in the Formula BMW (FBMW) USA Championship this past ...
Hinchcliffe Podiums in First Formula BMW Event
17 year-old Canadian Rookie Impresses at Lime Rock
TORONTO, ON. -- (June 1, 2004) 17-year old James Hinchcliffe competed in his first event in the Formula BMW (FBMW) USA Championship this past weekend at the 2.258 mile Lime Rock Park race course in Lakeville, CT. The talented Canadian steered his AIM Autosport / Franczak Enterprises #56 entry to two top five finishes on the demanding race course.
Hinchcliffe started the weekend Friday morning with the fourth quickest time in the opening practice round for event weekend #1 towards the championship. Competing under wet conditions and a malfunction with the gearbox, Hinchcliffe was still able to set some quick laps. Qualifying scheduled for Friday afternoon was postponed after the morning session as series officials opted to give the championship competitors a full practice session on a dry race course before putting them in the middle of official competition.
The Saturday morning qualifying session provided some trouble for Hinchcliffe as he was only able to turn the sixth quickest time among the 16 car grid. "We had a little trouble this morning," expressed the Oakville, ON resident. "The car was good but a lot of my fellow competitors picked up time over night. I am not worried though as we showed the speed yesterday and I will look to take the AIM Autosport BMW to the front."
Hinchcliffe was on a charge from the drop of the green flag as he sliced and diced his way towards the front of the field. Making some bold passes, Hinchcliffe was showing series officials, the media and fans that he is looking to be the first series champion and Canada's next open wheel star. Before the lap 11 caution, Hinchcliffe battled his way to P2 and slotted his car behind the leader. While following the pace car, the leader suddenly slowed and pulled off the race course handing the lead to the Rookie of the Year candidate. Hinchcliffe would assume the point until the restart when he was passed by eventual race winner Andreas Wirth.
"These Formula BMW machines are great to drive and AIM Autosport has done a great job in preparing my FB2. I had a clean race, kept my head down, and moved up one car at a time. I focused on getting a good run down the hill, popping out of line going into turn one, and getting my passes done under braking." Hinchcliffe also added, "I am very happy to be on the podium in the first ever event for the Formula BMW Series in North America. This is a day that I will remember for a very long time."
Hinchcliffe had very little time to enjoy his podium finish as the cars hit the track again Saturday afternoon for Monday afternoon's second round. Circuiting Lime Rock Park with confidence, the Oakville Trafalgar Secondary School student qualified his entry in P4 after sitting second for most of the session and was once again intent on battling for the win.
Hinchcliffe managed to move into third place at the start of round #2 as he was wheel to wheel with several veteran car racers. As the lead quintet began to pull away from the rest of the field, James had a big off at the bottom of the 'West Bend' hill. Onto the grass and sideways, James managed to saw on the wheel and get the car straight and back onto the track without losing a position. The duo behind the young Canadian saw the miscue and drafted by Hinchcliffe on the next straight away and into corner one. Just outside the top five, Hinchcliffe regained his composure and moved up one spot and came home 5th in the final standings.
"It was a great race" explained Hinchcliffe. "I had bad understeer on the downhill section and at 'West Bend' went off trying to keep up with second place but managed to keep the car away from the wall. I believe we had a top five car today and overall the whole AIM Autosport team is happy with finishing fifth but we will refocus and be ready for Montreal. I would like to thank Franczak Enterprises for their support and the guys at AIM Autosport for the hard work and great racecar that they gave me all weekend."
After the first weekend of competition, Hinchcliffe currently sits second in the series overall championship with 23 points. The talented rookie also leads the BMW Rookie Cup points by 13 with a total of 40 points. James' next on-track action will be in two weeks time for rounds number three and four in the Formula BMW USA Championship. Competing at the Montreal Grand Prix, Hinchcliffe will look to take home the victory on home soil. For more information on the Formula BMW USA Championship please visit www.bmw-motorsport.com.