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Formula BMW Asia - Round 1 - Bahrain - Race

Sakhir (BRN). Hong Kong's Marchy Lee scored a dominant victory after overcoming an early challenge from Taipei's Hanss Lin, which saw the pair battling hard for the lead in the opening laps.

Formula BMW Asia

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Marchy Lee wins Formula BMW Asia Series opener

Sakhir (BRN). The 2004 Formula BMW Asia Series kicked off on Saturday with the
first of two races at the brand new Bahrain International Circuit. Seventeen
drivers contested the first event, representing 11 different countries within
the Asian region.

Hong Kong's Marchy Lee scored a dominant victory after overcoming an early
challenge from Taipei's Hanss Lin, which saw the pair battling hard for the
lead in the opening laps. Second place went to Korean Kyong-Ouk You, while Lin
eventually had to settle for third. The three drivers received their trophies
from BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver Ralf Schumacher and BMW Motorsport Director
Mario Theissen.

"We have witnessed an interesting start of the 2004 Formula BMW Asia Series
today," said Theissen. "I think we can look forward to an exciting season and
we are keen to see how it develops."

Lee started his Team Meritus entry from pole position, and at the start pulled
to the right in an attempt to claim the line on he run to the first corner.
However, Lin had made a better getaway in his Belgravia Motorsport car, and was
able to slot inside and take the lead.

Lee stayed on Lin's tail, and as the pair began the second lap he dived down
the inside into Turn One to reclaim the lead. Lin fought back through the next
few corners, but ran wide, and allowed You through to second. Another moment on
the third lap dropped Lin to fifth. With Lin out of the picture Lee drove a
faultless race, extending his lead every lap to an eventual margin of 6.8
seconds.

"He got me at the start," said Lee. "I thought I did quite well, but he got a
super start! I was patient and just tried to stay close, because this track is
very dusty, and I got him at the end of the straight. He almost got me back at
turn 3 but I managed to stay ahead. It's a great start, and hopefully I can do
it again. It was an honour to meet Ralf Schumacher."

You had a relatively lonely race to second in the BMW Korea E-Rain car, while
Lin had to work hard and re-pass Dado Pena and Mehdi Bennani to claim third.
After making a bad start Moreno Soeprapto climbed to fourth, ahead of Bennani
and Pena. The latter survived a spin.

You damaged his front wing when he touched Lee on the second lap. That affected
the handling and also disrupted the airflow to the radiator, and despite
concerns about high temperatures, he drove a sensible race to the flag.

"I'm quite happy with second," said You. "The car was damaged on lap two, and I
thought that the water temperature was too high, so I controlled the pace to
cool down the engine. It's a good start."

"I had a very good start," said Lin, "but I chose the wrong sixth gear ratio so
I was on the rev limiter for 300-400m. So I think I could have won this race.
It was easy for people to pass me, so I had to push very hard in the corners to
hold on to my position. I'm sure I can have a good year. I want to be champion!"

There was plenty of action down the field. Tyson Sy was an early casualty after
his car trailed fire from its undertray on the opening lap, while Hamed Al
Fardan had to stop on the last lap after also suffering a fire.

Sunday's second round starts at 12.20pm local time, just before the Bahrain
Grand Prix. Because the race is over four hours earlier than the Saturday event
the track temperature is likely to be hotter, so the drivers will have to cope
with very different conditions. Soeprapto starts from pole, ahead of Minardi
team mate Sy. You, Lee, Pena and Lin complete the top six qualifiers.

The Formula BMW Asia Series will be run over 14 rounds at seven venues in
Bahrain, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, China and Japan. It will culminate in a
second Grand Prix support race at Shanghai in September.

Results: Round 1 (Saturday Race) - 10 laps

1. Marchy Lee (HKG) Team Meritus 22m03.048s
2. Kyong-Ouk You (KOR) BMW Korea E-Rain 22m09.983s
3. Hanss Lin (TPE) Belgravia Motorsport 22m12.934s
4. Moreno Soeprapto (INA) Minardi Team Asia 22m20.098s
5. Mehdi Bennani (MAR) Belgravia Motorsport 22m20.846s
6. Dado Pena (PHI) Minardi Team Asia 22m27.383s
7. Han Han (CHN) Team E-Rain 22m41.187s
8. Maekkasit Weraposal (THA) Autosport with Arto 22m43.564s
9. Sheik Salmin Bin Rashid Al Khalifa (BAR) Belgravia Motorsport 22m47.304s
10. Robert T Boughey (THA) Minardi Team Asia 22m56.518s
11. Nik Iruwan Nik Izani (MAS) Team Meritus 23m29.192s
12. Mohammed Al Baharna (BRN) Belgravia Motorsport 23m32.039s
13. Gaby Dela Merced (PHI) Team T.E.C Pilipinas 23m33.688s
14. Tohru Jitsukawa (JPN) Autosport with Arto 23m56.215s
15. Karshana Sanja Thivanka Dissanayake (MAS) Team E-Rain 9 laps
Ret. Hamed Al Fardan (BRN) Belgravia Motorsport 9 laps
Ret. Tyson Sy (PHI) Minardi Team Asia 1 lap

Fastest lap: Lee, 2m10.784s, 149.109km/h
Winner's Average Speed: 146.726km/h

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