Marchy Lee won the second round of the 2004 Formula BMW Asia Series at Sakhir,
a day after he triumphed in the first race of the year. The double success gives the Hong Kong driver a commanding points lead, and marks him as a favourite to win this year’s title.
“I feel very, very happy, and the race was quite good,” said a delighted Lee after an exciting race. “It’s been a perfect weekend. It was raining a little bit at the beginning of the race. The set-up of the car was quite hard in the front, so it was quite difficult to turn in at a couple of corners. I had to calm down and drive safely and not make any mistakes. Also the wind was quite disturbing. Tyson did a very good race. I hope I can do this again in Sepang for the next round.”
Against expectations the weather proved to be poor on Sunday. Cloudy skies meant that the track temperature was a lot lower than it was in qualifying, and windy conditions made life difficult for the drivers. However, the real test was a light shower just before the start which made the track very slippery. All the drivers raced on dry weather tyres, and struggled to stay on the road in the opening laps. However, most coped extremely well, and were able to adapt to this unusual challenge.
Moreno Soeprapto started the race from pole, but the Indonesian struggled to find traction off the line. His Minardi Team Asia team mate Tyson Sy led into the first corner, but from fourth on the grid Marchy Lee got away well. As the field scrabbled around the first corners the Team Meritus driver moved up to second and took the lead from Sy at Turn 3.
The first few laps saw frantic action as the cars in the leading group slid around and frequently swapped places. Hanss Lin got away well from sixth place, and passed Lee for the lead on lap 3 at the last corner. Marchy was put off line and briefly dropped to fourth. However, Lin overdid it and spun at the next corner.
Lee was soon back in the lead. Sy then passed him at Turn 3 on lap 7, and the two cars made brief contact. However, Lee regained top spot on the next lap. Despite strong pressure from Sy he stayed ahead to the flag. You Kyong-Ouk of Korea was a third, having run as high as second at one point.
Sy was very pleased to finish second, having retired early in the first race when an oil leak caused a spectacular fire.
“It was a really exciting race,” said Sy. “Yesterday I had a problem with my car, and I did only one lap. The mechanics did a very good job on the car, and today I got second. It was really fun to fight for first place with Marchy Lee.
You was satisfied with a second podium finish for BMW Korea E-Rain.
“I was trying to push very hard through the race,” he said, “but it was really tough. The other two are really good, but next time I hope I can win!”
There was a lot of action behind the top three. Dado Pena finished fourth for Minardi Team Asia, despite an off-track moment. Mehdi Bennani took fifth for Belgravia Motorsport, while the top six was completed by Lin, who recovered well after his spin. Pole man Soeprapto retired on the sixth lap.
The podium prizes were presented by BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, who said he enjoyed the race immensely.
“The second race was a big step forward compared to the first one,” he noted. “You can see the progress these guys are making from race to race. This race was really close up to the last corner, and I think we’re looking forward to a really exciting season.”