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Formula BMW Update
  • Double victory for Vilarinho at the VIR.
  • Thompson and Haryanto claim maiden Formula BMW Pacific victories.
  • New date for the second Formula BMW Pacific weekend.
  • Formula BMW Europe completes its preparation program.
  • Formula BMW careers: Tom Milner.
  • News in brief. 

Double victory for Vilarinho at the VIR.

Brazil’s Giancarlo Vilarinho dominated the second race weekend of the Formula BMW Americas season with two impressive start-finish victories. The Eurointernational driver won races three and four of the current season from pole position at the “Virginia International Raceway” in Danville (US). The two wins take him to within 15 points of the overall leader, team-mate Gabby Chaves (CO). Third place and sixth place were enough for Formula BMW Junior Alex Ellis (CA) to take over at the top of the Rookie Cup standings on 32 points. He follows James Kovacic (AU, Team Apex), who now ranks second on 28 points, still well within striking distance.

In the first race of the weekend, Vilarinho was initially forced to fend off numerous attacks from Chaves, but was eventually able to build up a six-second lead before the race had to be drawn to an early close following several incidents. The second race at the VIR painted a similar picture, as Vilarinho dominated proceedings from the start. However, the finish was closer than the previous day: Chaves would not give up the fight, and came home less than one second behind after eleven laps.

Formula BMW Americas travels to the “Miller Motorsports Park” from 15th to 17th May, competing in the support program of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) for the first time this year. Together with the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team, which is striving for victories and points with two BMW M3s in the GT2 class, Formula BMW Americas forms a joint motorsport appearance, which is rounded off nicely by the integration of production cars in the public fan area. At the same this event also marks the halfway point in this year’s Formula BMW Americas season.

Thompson and Haryanto claim maiden Formula BMW Pacific victories.

For the 15 Formula BMW Pacific drivers, the season kick-off represented a true highlight. After all, the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix was the spectacular setting for the first two rounds of the year. Gary Thompson (IR) and Rio Haryanto (ID) made good use of this unique opportunity to make a lasting impression on BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld as well as media representatives from all over the world.

In the first race, Thompson took the win ahead of Formula BMW Junior Chris Wootton (AU) and Haryanto, who finished second and third respectively. From pole position, the 16-year-old dropped back to third in the opening stages but subsequently benefited from an off-track moment of his E-Rain Racing team-mate Fahmi Ilyas (MY) and Calvin Wong (MY, Team Holzer PFX), thus regaining the lead and defending it until he took the checkered flag.

The length of race two was halved from ten to five laps as torrential rain began to hit the “Sepang International Circuit” prior to the start. However, the track dried again and consequently the young guns were able to contest the race on dry-weather tires.  As was the case in round one, Questnet Team Qi-Meritus driver Haryanto delivered in fine style and crossed the finish line with a 4.030-second lead over second-placed Wootton. By finishing third, Thompson secured his second podium finish and now holds the championship lead with 28 points to his tally. Wootton (22.5 points) follows in second, ahead of Haryanto (22).

New date for the second Formula BMW Pacific weekend.

The third to sixth Formula BMW Pacific rounds will also be held at the “Sepang International Circuit”, as part of the Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS). The AFOS curtain-raiser was postponed by a week and will now be held on 30th/31st May. The date was put back in order to avoid a clash with the A1GP calendar. In the meantime, the A1GP event has been cancelled, but the AFOS postponement remains in effect.

Formula BMW Europe completes its preparation program.

Formula BMW Europe has completed its pre-season tests. The first clashes of the young guns, which took place in Barcelona, Monza, Silverstone, the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps, ensure the promise of a thrilling 2009 season. 27 drivers from 14 countries gained a lot of valuable experience in the run-up to the season kick-off, scheduled to take place at Barcelona from 08th to 10th May. At Barcelona (2nd to 3rd March) and in the “Introductory Test” at Silverstone (17th to 19th March), Denmark’s Michael Christensen (DK) proved to be the quickest. In the second test at Monza, Ollie Millroy (GB, Motaworld Racing) secured the top position on the time sheets, and at the Nürburgring, Brazilian Luiz Felipe Nasr (Eurointernational) set the fastest lap time. In the final tests at Spa-Francorchamps, Christensen once more was quicker than anybody else.

One very interested spectator in Barcelona will be BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen who commented: “After a very successful first year for the series, I look forward to seeing this year’s line up of young drivers in action. Racing in front of the Formula One and GP2 teams, Formula BMW Europe provides an excellent opportunity for both drivers and teams to demonstrate their talents and skills. No less than five of the current Formula One drivers have started their careers in professional motorsport with Formula BMW, and some others are knocking on the door already. But, most importantly, Formula BMW Europe will be an invaluable learning experience for all the competitors.“

Formula BMW careers: Tom Milner.

When Tom Milner (US) contested the 2004 Formula BMW USA season, he stood out right from the start. With his height of 1.85 meters, the Formula BMW Junior was literally head and shoulders above most of his opponents – and out on the track, he also delivered in fine style. He experienced his personal season highlight at Cleveland where he secured the maiden pole position of his Formula BMW career. At the end of the season he had scored 50 points to finish eighth in the championship, thus coming fourth in the Rookie Cup.

Subsequently, Milner made a name for himself on the American sports car racing scene and today he is regarded as one of America’s biggest talents in this area. The son of PTG owner Tom Milner senior not only inherited his father’s height but also his talent at the wheel of a racing car. With the BMW M3 alone, PTG won 14 sports car championships. Today, Milner successfully competes for BMW Rahal Letterman Racing in the American Le Mans Series – again at the wheel of an impressive BMW M3. Together with Dirk Müller (DE), he has contested three races to date and secured two GT2 podium finishes

Milner has fond memories of his Formula BMW days. "Formula BMW is a unique program," he comments. "They offer young drivers the chance to get their training from top-professionals. The Education and Coaching Program was a very good experience, giving the whole racing picture. Even through I grew up around the sport, the program gave me a much clearer understanding of what a race car driver should be on and off the track."

News in brief.

- Appearance on a major stage: Within the scope of an event held by BMW China in the support program of the Chinese Grand Prix, local hero and Formula BMW Pacific driver Hong Wei Cao drove a Formula BMW FB02 vehicle. In the season kick-off at Malaysia, Cao finished tenth and fifth respectively.

- Fit for the season: The BMW Motorsport Education and Coaching Program participants have been working on their fitness for the 2009 season at Emberger Sports in Cologne. Instructed by experienced coaches and physiotherapists, the drivers not only used this fitness camp to work on their fitness, but were also given a personally-tailored dietary and fitness plan, as well as valuable tips on how to maintain their physical fitness and mental strengths over the course of the season. In accordance with the uniform and global Formula BMW concept, the drivers in the Formula BMW Americas series were not to be outdone by their colleagues in the European series. They have been preparing accordingly for the remaining races in their series at PitFit in Indianapolis (US).

- First joint appearance at WSK event: To continue inspiring the motor racing young guns of Formula BMW Europe in the future, BMW began an interesting cooperation with the “2009 WKS International Series” in 2008. The grid of the international kart series features important kart manufacturers and competitive young drivers. In cooperation with BMW, particularly skilled youngsters will be invited by WSK (Winning Series of Karting) to participate in the annual license course held at Valencia. The first joint appearance with a Formula BMW show car came at the WSK event in Castelletto (IT) from 2nd to 5th April.

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