Lee Takes Second in Formula BMW Nightcap at San Jose Grand Prix SAN JOSE, Calif., July 30 - Matt Lee started and finished second in Round 10 of the Formula BMW USA championship Sunday on the San Jose street circuit as a support event for the ...
Lee Takes Second in Formula BMW Nightcap at San Jose Grand Prix
SAN JOSE, Calif., July 30 - Matt Lee started and finished second in Round 10 of the Formula BMW USA championship Sunday on the San Jose street circuit as a support event for the Champ Car World Series.
The 16-year-old Team Autotecnica driver from Syosset, N.Y. came from 25th place in the 26-car field to finish 11th in a similar race on the 1.443-mile, seven-turn temporary road course Saturday.
His teammate, top rookie contender Robert Thorne of Sherman, Conn., was one of nine drivers who did not finish Saturday's race due to accidents. Thorne's occurred on lap 13 of the 23-lap event and he ended up 21st. He posted his best qualifying effort of the season to date by qualifying sixth for Sunday's race, but his car developed transmission problems and he ended up 25th in that event.
Lee's qualifying time for Sunday's race was only 0.010 of a second off pole winner Robert Wickens' new track record. Lee beat Wickens into turn one at the start to take the lead and he led most of the way, but Wickens got the advantage on a late-race restart to post the overall victory.
Lee was just 0.125 of a second behind Wickens at the checkered. Reed Stevens took the final podium spot on Sunday.
"The car was awesome today," Lee said after Sunday's race. "I got the lead coming out of turn one at the start and took off, and I was able to build up a pretty big gap on Wickens. Then there was an accident, and he beat me to the first turn on the restart. I was chasing him down but I didn't have enough time to catch him. They cut the race short by two laps due to the crash.
"I got out front, but the restart killed me today," he summarized.
Both Lee and Thorne had to start at the rear for Saturday's race due to a problem in the post-qualifying technical inspection. Lee, who had originally qualified third, ended up starting 25th, so his plan was to concentrate on bringing the car home in one piece rather than make any daring moves that could have backfired. He stuck to his plan and gained valuable points by finishing 11th.
"I started 25th and finished 11th; it was pretty uneventful for me," Lee said of Saturday's race. "I watched people crash and I moved up and just did my thing."
Stevens won Saturday's race over Tom Sutherland and David Garza.
Thorne, who had set the eighth-fastest time originally in qualifying for that race, had to start 26th Saturday. He was also running well until the accident occurred at the midway point.
"On Saturday I made a mistake going into turn six which caused the car to rotate into the tire wall on the exit," Thorne explained. "Today [Sunday] I started sixth. I maintained that position for three laps, and then the transmission quit shifting."
Lee is second in the point standings after the San Jose doubleheader. Thorne is 22nd in the overall standings and seventh in the Rookie of the Year points.
Two more doubleheaders remain: Aug. 11-13 as part of the Grand Prix of Denver, and Sept. 1-3 at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario.
Both Lee and Thorne's Autotecnica cars are sponsored in part by Bumper to Bumper, Autoparts Warehouse, the Francis A. Lee Company, Matt-Con Services Corp. and Integrated Structures. Both drivers are also looking for additional marketing partners to join their program.
Both drivers recently participated in a series test at the largest road course in North America, Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Lee topped the time charts after two days of testing. His best time over the course of the two days was a 1:28.634.
More information is available on the Internet at twintooth.com, autotecnicagroup.com and formulabmwusa.com.