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Formula BMW Asia - Round 9 - Autopolis - Race

Oita, Japan - Hong Kong's Marchy Lee (Team Meritus) could be just 10 laps away from clinching the 2004 Formula BMW Asia title after taking a no-nonsense victory in Round 9 at the 4.6km Autopolis Circuit in Japan.

Formula BMW Asia

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Lee just 10 laps from glory.
Oita, Japan - Hong Kong's Marchy Lee (Team Meritus) could be just 10 laps away
from clinching the 2004 Formula BMW Asia title after taking a no-nonsense
victory in Round 9 at the 4.6km Autopolis Circuit in Japan. One more win could
secure the title for the talented driver. Sixteen-year-old dynamo Tyson Sy
(Minardi Team Asia) of the Philippines continued his phenomenal form this
weekend with a second place finish, while Hanss Lin Po Heng (Belgravia
Motorsport) of Chinese Taipei took the final podium place after a sterling
performance from 6th on the grid.

The results give Lee, who has won all but one of the races so far this season,
a lead of 73 points over second-placed You Kyong-Ouk (BMW Korea E-Rain), in the
Driver Classification table, while Lin overtakes Mehdi Bennani (Team Meritus)
to claim 3rd place, seven points behind You. Bennani, however is just two
points adrift of Lin.

Lee was delighted with his win, having concentrated on the job in hand and not
letting the anticipation of a title win get in the way. He was full of praise
for the young Filipino Sy, saying: "He's a talented driver. He's still young
and has a great future. I think if he competes next year, he can be champion."

Lin was thrilled to be on the podium: "We've been trying to find the
appropriate set up for the car, and we're not quite there yet. I tried to make
up as many positions as I could in the first two laps and did a lot of late
braking to get there." He will have his work cut out in the second race where
he will start from the back of the grid after his qualifying times were
disallowed for a technical infringement.

At the start of the 10 lap race, Lee got away well as did Sy. Sy pushed to
close the gap to Lee, putting pressure on the championship leader, but Lee held
his position. You had a disastrous start from third on the grid, dropping to
6th, having made a big mistake resulting in too much wheel spin. An epic battle
ensued between the South Korean and Salman Al Khalifa (Belgravia Motorsport) of
Bahrain, with the latter finally getting past You on lap 8. Sy's Minardi Team
Asia team mate Dado Pena, 17, had qualified 4th and did well to hold his
position to the chequered flag.

Hamed Al Fardan (Belgravia Motorsport) of Bahrain came to grief while
attempting to overtake BMW Junior driver Robert T. Boughey (Minardi Team
Asia). The two came together with Al Fardan retiring. Boughey continued but
unluckily collected a one minute jump start penalty, which was a disappointment
after crossing the line in 9th.

Series newcomer Michael Ting Chi-Hwa (Team E-Rain) of Hong Kong showed real
promise in what was his first ever motor race and his maiden outing in the
Formula BMW car, at one point overtaking team mate Han Han of China who has
eight races already under his belt, and holding him off for six laps. It was a
trial by fire for the youngster, as the technical Autopolis Circuit is daunting
to even the most experienced pilot.

Top Rookie Cup finisher was Bennani who came in 5th, and continues to top the
championship leaderboard.

Round 9 Results
POS No Driver/Nat Entrant Time
1 38 Marchy LEE Ying-Kin (HKG) Team Meritus 19:19.967
2 3 Tyson SY (PHI) Minardi Team Asia 01.809
3 88 Hanss LIN Po-Heng (TPE) Belgravia Motorsport 05.882
4 2 Dado PENA (PHI) Minardi Team Asia 06.316
5 24 ?Mehdi BENNANI (MAR) Team Meritus 07.951
6 21 Salman AL KHALIFA (BRN) Belgravia Motorsport 12.600
7 61 *YOU Kyoung-Ouk (KOR) BMW Korea E-Rain 13.079
8 11 ?*Nik Iruwan NIK IZANI (MAS) Team Meritus 15.828
9 22 Mohammed AL BAHRANA (BRN) Belgravia Motorsport 29.016
10 6 ?*Han HAN (CHN) Team E-Rain 39.241
11 68 #Michael TING Chi-Hwa (HKG) Team E-Rain 48.677
12 4 ?*Robert T BOUGHEY (THA) Minardi Team Asia 1:20.451
DNF 27 #Mark GODDARD (GBR) Minardi Team Asia --
DNF 23 ?Hamed AL FARDAN (BRN) Belgravia Motorsport --
*Scholarship driver
? Rookie Cup
# Non-Series Registered

Fastest Lap: Marchy Lee (Team Meritus) 1:55.339
Pole Position: Marchy Lee (Team Meritus)


Championship Standings:
Drivers: 1.Marchy Lee (HKG/Team Meritus) 170 points, 2. You Kyong-Ouk (KOR/BMW
Korea E-Rain) 97 points, 3. Hanss Lin Po Heng (TPE/Belgravia Motorsport) 90
points, 4. Mehdi Bennani (MAR/Team Meritus) 88 points, 5. Tyson Sy (PHI/Minardi
Team Asia) 61 points, 6. Dado Pena (PHI/Minardi Team Asia) 59 points, 7. Salman
Al Khalifa (BRN/Belgravia Motorsport) 58 points, 8. Hamel Al Fardan
(BAR/Belgravia Motorsport) 24 points, 9. Robert T. Boughey (THA/Minardi Team
Asia) 18 points, 10. Mohammed Al Baharna (BRN/Belgravia Motorsport) 17 points,
11. Han Han (CHN/Team E-Rain) 17 points, 12. Nik Iruwan Nik Izani (MAL/Team
Meritus) 16 points, 13. Maekkasit Weraporasu (THA/Autosport with Arto) 9
points, 14. Tohru Jitsukawa (JPN/Autosport with Arto) 4 points, 15. Gaby Dela
Merced (PHI/Team E Rain) 1 point.

Rookie Cup Standings:
1. Mehdi Bennani 160 points, 2. Nik Iruwan Nik Izani 100 points, 3. Robert T.
Boughey 98 points, 4. Han Han 92 points, 5. Hamed Al Fardan 75 points, 6. Gaby
Dela Merced 60 points.

Background
The ultra-modern Formula BMW which allows 15-year-olds to enter the world of
motor racing has been lining up on the grid since the 2002 season. It sets
standards above all on the safety technology front. The single-seater, driven
by a 140 bhp BMW motorcycle engine that takes it up to 230 km/h, features a
carbon-fibre chassis, fulfils the safety requirements of the much
higher-performance Formula 3 cars, and even matches certain Formula One
standards.

Formula BMW Asia, now in its second season, runs as part of the Asian Festival
of Speed (AFOS) organised by Motorsport Asia Limited. This year the series is
run over 14 rounds at seven venues, including Bahrain, where it was a support
race to the Formula One Grand Prix, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Japan, with a
second Formula One Grand Prix support race in Shanghai.

In 2004, Formula BMW will be staged in four different series held in Germany,
the UK, Asia and the USA. Formula BMW events will be part of the Formula One
support programme on five occasions around the world. All the series go
hand-in-hand with a comprehensive education and coaching programme, as well as
substantial financial backing for promising young talent. The most
distinguished graduate of this "talent hothouse" is Ralf Schumacher. The star
of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team made his racing debut in the junior class in 1992.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "Our junior talent promotion scheme is
an intensive basic education for successful kart drivers who want to move up
into Formula racing. Our priorities are to create a level playing field through
technically identical vehicles and scrupulously defined regulations, and to
ensure maximum safety."

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