Sebastian Saavedra Takes Round 7; Round 8 to Daniel Morad Lakeville, Conn. - July 7, 2007-- In two previous years, Lime Rock Park has pointed to the season's champion as three of the four past rounds were captured by the Overall winner. This...
Sebastian Saavedra Takes Round 7; Round 8 to Daniel Morad
Lakeville, Conn. - July 7, 2007-- In two previous years, Lime Rock Park has pointed to the season's champion as three of the four past rounds were captured by the Overall winner.
This weekend Sebastian Saavedra earned his first Formula BMW USA win in Round 7, but perhaps it was the Round 8 victory of Daniel Morad - the fifth of the season for last year's Rookie champion - that, with six Rounds remaining, made the crystal ball a little clearer.
Round 7: Saavedra Breaks Through for First Win
17-year old Sebastian Saavedra (Eurointernational), of Bogata, Colombia, came from the second starting position to take his first-ever Formula BMW USA victory today at Lime Rock Park. It was all second-year Formula BMW USA drivers on the podium, as Saavedra finished .215 seconds in front of Canadian Maxime Pelletier (HBR Motorsport Team USA) in the 25 lap race around the 1.53-mile circuit. Steven Guerrero (HBR Motorsport Team USA), also from Bogata, finished third.
Jeffrey Petriello (Team KMA) was fourth, the 18-year old Junior driver the top- finishing Rookie in the race. Jordan Dick (JD Racing) finished fifth, the best finish this season for the sophomore Formula BMW USA driver.
The race started under sunny skies and any chance for a fifth win by polesitter Daniel Morad (Eurointernational) ended quickly after he jumped the start and had to serve a drive-through penalty. He finished seventh, the first time this season the Overall point leader has not finished on the podium. He was credited with the fastest lap of the race (51.589, L9).
Pelletier inherited the lead and behind him Esteban Gutierrez (Autotecnica) and Alexander Rossi (Team Apex Racing USA) battled until a collision between the two on lap 11 brought out the yellow flag. Gutierrez slid off the track, out of the race and Rossi came to the pits to have his damaged rear wing removed. Rossi would continue to finish 16th, one lap down to the leaders, and Gutierrez was credited with 17th.
On the restart Saavedra began to challenge Pelletier and as they approached Rossi, slowed by the loss of his wing, on lap 19 Saavedra took the lead with a well- executed pass in turn 1. He held off Pelletier for the remaining six laps to take his first career Formula BMW USA win.
Saaverda said, "From the very beginning of the race I knew I had a good car. After the restart I closed the gap to Maxime and was able to get by him with a good pass. I struggled a bit in qualifying so I am starting fifth in Round 8. If I maintain focus and get my passes done I am confident for another good finish."
Pelletier said, "I had an awesome start and everything was going well for the win. As we came up on Rossi I braked as late as I could and went wide, but Sebastian had a great run and made the pass. I start eighth in the next race, but if my car is as good as it was in Round 7, I'll have a good race."
Guerrero said, "It was a difficult start, but I was able to hold my position. All my thanks to my team for giving me an excellent car. I will need to be more aggressive and focused in the next race."
The top-finishing Rookie drivers were Petriello (P4), Favoretto (P10), Eric Morrow (P13), Timothy Hollowell (P14) and Gutierrez (P17).
Round 8: Morad Bounces Back to Record His Fifth Victory
Only hours after recording his poorest finish of the season (seventh) in Round 7 Daniel Morad (Eurointernational) recovered to take the Round 8 victory this afternoon at Lime Rock Park. In taking his fifth win of the season, Morad led from standing start to checkered flag, finishing .165 seconds ahead of Eurointernational teammate Sebastian Saavedra in the 25 lap race. Morad was credited with the fastest lap of the race (51.792, L12). Alexander Rossi (Team Apex Racing USA) finished third for his second podium of the season. Robert Thorne (Team Apex racing USA) finished fourth and Maxime Pelletier (HBR Motorsport Team USA) finished fifth.
Morad got a clean start and was able to open up a significant gap on the field after second place starter Mike Hill (Team KMA) dropped a tire off at the bottom of the downhill and spun across the track. He narrowly missed all of the other cars before hitting the inside tire wall and bending his rear wing. He continued to finish 13th.
Saavedra gave chase as the balance of the top-10 battled for position. Thorne and Rossi broke away to finish in a virtual tie, with Rossi just edging Thorne for the final podium position. Ricardo Favoretto (HBR Motorsport Team USA) and Esteban Gutierrez (Autotecnica) had contact in the final laps with Favoretto finishing 12th and Gutierrez ending the weekend with a second 17th place finish.
With this victory today, Morad becomes the all time leader in Formula BMW USA victories passing 2006 Champion Robert Wickens who had five wins in his career with six rounds to go.
Morad said, "I was a little too ready in Round 7 and jumped the start. This afternoon I got away perfectly and had a 10 second lead after the first lap. I could see Sebastian was on a mission and he brought the gap down to one second. There was traffic at the end of the race and it was frustrating, but everything worked out okay."
Saavedra said, "When Mike spun at the beginning of the race I was able to move into second. I was able to close on Daniel during the race, but that was the best I could do. A win and a second this weekend - I am very happy."
Rossi said, "It came down to my teammate Robert and me for third and fourth. I was behind him on the last lap, but I got a great run in the downhill. I went inside and was just able to pull off the pass. This is my first weekend with Team Apex and it feels great to podium."
The top-finishing Rookie drivers were Eric Morrow (P10), Ricardo Favoretto (P12), Timothy Hollowell (P14), Jeffrey Petriello (P15), and Esteban Gutierrez (P17).
The Formula BMW USA Championship next travels across the country to the San Jose Grand Prix on July 27-29 for Rounds 9 and 10.