Gabby Chaves Goes Wire-To-Wire Gabby Chaves (EuroInternational) led from start to finish to win the opening round of the 2009 Formula BMW Americas Championship in Puebla, Mexico, but Saturday afternoon’s race was nowhere near as easy as the opening sentence makes it sound.
Polesitter Chaves paced all 14 trips around the 2.09-mile Miguel E. Abed road course, but he had to go hard the entire way as his EuroInternational teammate Giancarlo Vilarinho filled his mirrors on every lap. The two stayed within three car lengths of each other for the whole event, but Chaves was able to hold off his stablemate to score his first win of the year.
“The race was very hard and I had to battle the whole way to get the win,” Chaves said. “It was a great way to start the season and I am happy to get a victory for EuroInternational, but we have more work to do tomorrow.”
Vilarinho started second and made life difficult for Chaves as the two EuroInternational drivers pulled out to a bit of a gap over a hard-charging James Kovacic (Team Apex) who had moved to third after starting sixth. Vilarinho kept the pressure on, but could not get close enough to challenge Chaves and settled for the second spot.
“I kept working really hard, but couldn’t quite get there,” Vilarinho lamented. “The track was tricky and it was tough to get a run anywhere but we are happy with such a strong start to the championship. I think I learned a couple of things that we can work on at the start of the race and try to get a better result!”
Kovacic made a strong move from the third row on the grid to vault into third place on the second lap of the race as the Australian poured past the inside of Michael Lewis (EuroInternational) into Turn One. Lewis fought back valiantly in his pursuit of the Team Apex machine, coming agonizingly close on a number of occasions, but Kovacic was equal to the task to earn his first podium finish.
“This is a great result for our team and for me coming to Formula BMW Americas and I am very happy,” Kovacic reported. “I really like these cars. They are very challenging and demanding to drive and Michael was really pushing me. I’m tired, but glad we were able to get on the podium.”
Lewis held on for fourth while his EuroInternational teammate Daniel Vela used a strong move in Turn One on the eighth lap to secure the fifth spot. Joao Horto and Martin Sala teamed up to make a late run in the waning laps, securing sixth and seventh places in the final order for Team Apex.
The second round of the championship will take place tomorrow at Puebla, with Chaves starting from pole again by virtue of his qualifying effort on Saturday morning. Vilarinho will start second while Alex Ellis (Autotecnica) and Freddy Zebede (Jensen Motorsport) will make up the second row.
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