Rob Bunker is a quick study. His coaches say the 16-year-old has an uncanny ability to grab a concept and speed it to reality. He did just that at le Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal on June 11 and 12, capping the double-race weekend with a...
Rob Bunker is a quick study. His coaches say the 16-year-old has an uncanny ability to grab a concept and speed it to reality. He did just that at le Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal on June 11 and 12, capping the double-race weekend with a fifth-place finish, after moving up nine positions in the 12-lap race.
Bunker, of Bridgewater, N.J., posted solid rookie results in his first four Formula BMW USA races, but he wasn't satisfied. Bolstered by the AIM Autosport team and Speed Secrets coaches, he went to work with charts and graphs, plotting the minute changes that would give him an edge. He started 16th and finished 12th in the June 11 series race on the 4.361-kilometre (2.709-mile) Montreal road course, but he wanted more.
"We didn't capitalize on all the opportunities that came our way," he noted. "So that's what we really focussed on [Saturday] night -- we need to make aggressive passes, we need to stay aggressive, we need to be fast on the start and run the entire race as hard as we can. We came into this race knowing we had to focus on pushing the car too hard and then backing off from there. We went to the go-kart track last week and tried to work on that, and it directly translated over to this weekend."
The go-kart race -- which he won -- proved the perfect tune-up for the June 12 race. Bunker started 14th and passed five cars on the first corner. He continued to power through the field in the No. 18 AIM Autosport Formula BMW FB2 car, and finished fifth.
"The race was fantastic. We charged hard from the very beginning," he said. "On the first turn, we made up a few positions and were up in ninth, then dropped back a little bit. We had two full-course yellows [caution periods], so we made the best of those. I let people make mistakes and capitalized on those, and ended up fifth."
The races were Bunker's first on the Montreal grand-prix circuit, running in conjunction with the Formula One World Championship, but he was prepared:
"We spent a lot of time looking at video and really making sure we got as many references as possible. I knew it was going to be long, but I didn't know it would be so long. We went around it in a golf kart and it took 12 minutes! It's a huge track, and it's so fast. It's technical but it's high speed at the same time, so it's a true F1 track, very fun to drive."
Bunker's next two races will be part of the Formula One United States Grand Prix race weekend in Indianapolis, Ind., June 18 and 19.