Team Meritus driver, Ho-Pin Tung of China, continued his domination of the new Formula BMW Asia Series today, winning the second round in convincing style and once again leading the field of talented Asian youngsters from pole to chequered flag in the 10-lap race.
In almost identical fashion to his stunning performance in round one, Tung was on top throughout and started pulling away midway through the race. He opened up a massive lead of over 23 seconds by the final lap to take victory.
Said a delighted Tung, "I'm extremely pleased with my performance throughout this weekend and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. It is still too early to talk about the championship with many races to go and a lot of talented drivers to compete with, but I will do my best."
Talented Japanese driver Keiko Ihara, one of two female competitors in the series, finished second, with Three Crowns Racing's Nattapong Horthongkum of Thailand clinching third place to complete a good weekend with two podium finishes.
Malaysian youngster James Veerapan who went out in the first lap of round one, made amends with an excellent performance finishing fourth. Veerapan, who was stuck behind Japanese Tohru Jitsukawa in the opening laps, made up four places on lap five and held firm in fourth until the end. "It was a good race for me as I managed to overcome yesterday's setback. I overtook a few drivers early in the race and maintained my position until the end," he said.
Another driver who had a much better outing was Indian movie star Ajit Kumar. Starting from 15th on the grid, he picked up the pace and drove a controlled race to eventually finish in the top ten. Commented Ajit, "I'm feeling very happy today as it was a much better performance compared to yesterday. The problem was, when we tested at the Johor Circuit we were just marginally slower than the fastest car. This led to overconfidence and complacency going into this weekend. After yesterday, the team met and we decided that the most important thing for round two was to drive a good race and finish it, and that's exactly what we did. Now we can build on this performance for the rest of the season".
Ajit's India Racing team mate and fellow countyman Rajvirdhan Vijayakumar also put in a good performance to finish eighth.
Chin Tzer Jin from Malaysia and Ryo Nakano of Japan had a less successful weekend. Chin faced electrical problems right at the start and did not get beyond the first lap, while Ryo, who did not finish round one, didn't even make it to the starting grid as a result of mechanical failures. Korean Kyong-Ouk You who finished an impressive fourth in round one was out of the race in lap four after making contact with a car that spun ahead of him. He was forced out of the race due to damaged suspension.
Tung tops the Formula BMW Asia Driver Championship table after the first two rounds on 40 points, followed by Nattapong Horthongkum on 27. Team Meritus leads the Team Trophy table with an impressive 40 points.
The Formula BMW Asia action continues next month with the next two rounds at Johor's Pasir Gudang Race Circuit on April 20.
Among the talented field of Asian drivers are the Formula BMW Scholarship winners. The Scholarship programme was designed by BMW Motorsport to provide year-long training plus a US$35,000 financial contribution to the season's budget.
Formula One technology has been incorporated in many areas of the new Formula BMW, with particular focus on safety, such as the FORS (Formula Rescue Seat) developed by BMW. The car tips the scales dry (empty) at 455 kilograms. A 140 bhp BMW four-cylinder engine, based on the famous motorcycle unit, propels the car to speeds of up to 230km/h (143mph).
The Formula BMW Asia Series is part of the Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS) organised by Malaysian-based Motorsport Asia Limited, which also includes the Asian Touring Car Series, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and the Asian Formula 3 Series. In addition to Malaysia, AFOS will visit Thailand, Korea, Japan and China throughout the season.
Results - Round 2 Formula BMW Asia Series
1. 58 Ho-Pin TUNG (CHN) Team Meritus
2. 14 Keiko IHARA (JPN) Yellow Hat
3. 11 N. HORTHORTHONGKUM (THA) Three Crowns Racing
4. 28 James VEERAPAN (MAL) Team Meritus
5. 27 Tohru JITSUKAWA (JPN) Autosport Racing
6. 18 Don PASTOR (PHI) Team TEC
7. 3 Tyson SY (PHI) Goddard-QHR
8. 83 Rajvirdhan VIJAYAKUMAR Team India Racing
9. 9 LEE Doo-Young (KOR) E-Rain Racing
10. 6 Ajit KUMAR (IND) Team India Racing
11. 2 D. DADO (PHI) Goddard-QHR
DNF 55 Akiko KOBAYASHI (JPN) Autobac with Racing On
DNF 16 Gary SHAM (CHN) Three Crowns Racing
DNF 88 Hanse LIN (TPE) Team Meritus
DNF 61 YOU Kyong-Ouk (KOR) BMW Korea E-Rain
DNF 8 TJ CHIN (MAL) Team Meritus
DNF 41 Ryo NAKANO (JPN) Team Forty-One
* Fastest Lap: Ho-Pin TUNG/Meritus Racing 2:13.376 on lap 7/149.613kp