Marinescu on pole for season finale race at Macau.

Marinescu on pole for season finale race at Macau.

15.11.2008: Marinescu on pole for season finale race at Macau.

Round 16 Qualifying.

Mihai Marinescu (ROM/19/Motaworld) took the first ever Formula BMW Pacific pole position at the Macau Grand Prix today. Michael Christensen (DEN/18/Motaworld) missed out on the top spot by less than four tenths of a second at the end of an eventful session.

With series newcomers Motaworld taking up the front row of the grid with two guest drivers, Meritus nabbed the second row, with guest driver Alex Sims (GBR/20) and 2008 Formula BMW Pacific Champion Ross Jamison (HKG/18). India’s Aditya Patel (20/Eurasia Motorsport) was the fastest rookie, and qualified ninth.

As the 2008 Drivers Classification and 2008 Rookie Cup were decided in Shanghai in October, the field of 22 series and guest drivers have each come to Macau with a clean slate, and an opportunity to become the first Formula BMW driver to win on the famed Guia Circuit. Just as important is the chance to gain the invaluable experience of racing at Macau before one day advancing to the annual headline Formula 3 race.

Macau’s Luis Jorge Sa Silva (18/Eurasia Motorsport) qualified 19th, while Hong Kong driver Jim Ka To (24/Aran Racing) will start from 12th on the grid.

With limited practice time on Thursday, the drivers set about trying to push to the limits. On the first lap, Marlon Stöckinger (PHI/17/Eurasia Motorsport) hit the barrier at Paiol and could not rejoin the session. Qualifying was halted early after Ollie Millroy (GBR/18/Motaworld) also crashed at Paiol. Millroy did not rejoin the session.

After the restart, the drivers continued to get a feel for the 6.2km street circuit, with Marinescu clocking his best time of 2:31.199, with Christensen 0.396 seconds behind him.

Having finished the 2008 Formula BMW Europe season sixth in the Drivers Classification and winning the Rookie Cup, Christensen said he was not totally pleased with his performance, and knew that he had the pace to be on pole: "The car is fast enough and I can win from this position, so for sure I’m not finished with this race," Christensen said. "This is a very good experience to come and race on this difficult track before one day coming here to race in Formula 3. I want to win here, no question about that but the main thing is to learn the circuit."

Meritus guest driver Sims said he believed the start was the key to the race. "I need to get as good a start as possible and hope to make up a couple of places on the first corner," Sims said. "I realize that everyone is going to want to do that and it’s going to be difficult, but basically I need to go out there, drive as fast as possible and put as many people under me as I can."

While some of the drivers were able to make their mark on the Guia Circuit, others quickly learned the circuit’s unforgiving character. Gabby Chaves (COL/15/Atlantic Racing Team) was one of those whose small error proved costly: "I was doing okay and getting used to the track , but then I made a small mistake on braking and hit the wall," said Chaves, who qualified seventh. "I think I was up to fourth at one point and I had good pace, and just as I was starting to push, I made the error. It’s a shame my session had to end so soon."

And though some drivers had better sessions than others, all had praise for the street circuit. Sims described it as "fantastic", while Chaves said it was a big challenge where precision was an absolute must. Said Jamison, who considers the Macau Grand Prix almost a home race because of its proximity to Hong Kong: "It’s an absolutely amazing circuit and so much fun. If you make one single mistake, you’re in the wall."

Round 16 Qualifying Provisional.

1 19 Mihai MARINESCU# (ROM) Motaworld 2:31.199

2 21 Michael CHRISTENSEN# (DEN) Motaworld 2:31.595

3 18 Alex SIMS# (GBR) Meritus 2:32.190

4 88 Ross JAMISON (HKG) Meritus 2:32.503

5 25 Yuji KUNIMOTO# (JPN) ART Motorsport 2:33.138

6 4 Kimiya SATO# (JPN) Eurasia Motorsport 2:33.336

7 53 Gabriel CHAVES (COL) Atlantic Racing Team 2:33.691

8 26 Alon DAY# (HUN) ART Motorsport 2:33.785

9 3 Aditya PATEL• (IND) Eurasia Motorsport 2:33.845

10 8 Melvin MOH (MAS) Team Holzer PFX 2:34.209

11 11 Rio HARYANTO# (IDN) Pacific Racing 2:34.498

12 29 JIM Ka To# (HKG) ARAN Racing 2:34.605

13 22 Sean MCDONAGH (KOR) Team E-Rain 2:34.677

14 7 Imran SHAHAROM (MAS) Team Holzer PFX 2:35.252

15 34 Ryuichi NARA (JPN) Team E-Rain 2:35.604

16 38 Simon MOSS# (RSA) Mahara 2:35.982

17 9 Dominic ANG• (MAS) Team Holzer PFX 2:36.124

18 68 Chris WOOTTON*• (AUS) Meritus 2:36.313

19 27 Luis Jorge SA SILVA# (MAC) Eurasia Motorsport 2:39.036

20 16 CAO Hong Wei# (CHN) Pacific Racing 2:49.028

21 20 Ollie MILLROY# (GBR) Motaworld 13:06.885

22 2 Marlon STÖCKINGER*• (PHI) Eurasia Motorsport --

*Scholarship driver
•Rookie Cup
#Non-Series Registered


Provisional Championship Points Tables after Round 15.

Drivers: 1.Ross Jamison (HKG/Meritus) 218 points; 2. Sean McDonagh (KOR/Team E-Rain) 161 points; 3. Simon Moss (RSA/Mahara) 132 points; 4. Gabriel Chaves (COL/Atlantic Racing Team) 110 points; 5. Ryuichi Nara (JPN/Team E-Rain) 102 points; 6. Melvin Moh (MAS/Team Holzer PFX) 102 points; 7. Chris Wootton (AUS/Meritus) 92 points; 8. Marlon Stöckinger (PHI/Eurasia Motorsport) 70 points; 9. Aditya Patel (IND/Eurasia Motorsport) 56 points; 10. Imran Shaharom (MAS/Team Holzer PFX) 56 points; 11. Dominic Ang (MAS/Team Holzer PFX) 50 points; 12. Arvin Roslan (MAS/Meritus) 40 points; 13. Tasmin Pepper (RSA/Meritus) 22 points; 14. Huzair Harun Rasip (MAS/Mahara) 7 points; 15. Omer Younas (PAK/Team E-Rain) 1 point.

Rookie Cup 1.Moss; 2. Wootton; 3. Stöckinger; 4. Patel; 5.Ang; 6.Roslan; 7. Younas.

Teams 1.Meritus, 367 points; 2. Team E-Rain, 257 points; 3. Team Holzer PFX, 207 points; 4. Maharah, 137 points; 5. Eurasia Motorsport, 126 points; 6. Atlantic Racing Team, 110 points



Winners 2008: Jamison (4); Moss (3); Nara (2); McDonagh (2); Moh (1); Sechelariu (2); Millroy (1)

Pole Positions: Moss (2); McDonagh (6); Nara (1); Moh (1); Jamison (3); Sechelariu (2)

Podiums: Jamison (11); Moss (6); Patel (1); McDonagh (7); Moh (4); Chaves (3); Nara (3); Manzur (1); Stöckinger (1); Wootton (4); Sechelariu (2); Millroy (2)

Rookie Cup Winners: Moss (7); Stöckinger (3); Roslan (1); Wootton (3); Ang (1)



Formula BMW is the world’s leading entry-level series in formula racing. In 2008 the three Formula BMW series – Formula BMW Europe, Formula BMW Pacific and Formula BMW Americas – will be held in the key motor sport markets of Europe, pan-Asia and North and South America. The end of the year will see the Formula BMW World Final staged for the fourth time, this time at Mexico City’s "Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez" from the 5th to the 7th December. The winner will be granted the opportunity of a test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Formula BMW will be held on the undercard of Formula One on 12 occasions. The series gives young racing talents the chance to enter professional motor sport in a safe racing car – the Formula BMW FB02.

The FB02 has been in use since season 2002. It is powered by a 140 hp BMW engine that takes it to a top speed of up to 230 km/h. It ranks among the safest vehicles in its category and exceeds the FIA safety regulations that govern this class of car. Innovations such as the FORS (Formula Rescue Seat) were developed by BMW Motorsport specifically for Formula BMW. Following Formula One, Formula BMW was the first single-seater series outside the US in which the HANS system was made mandatory.

Formula BMW drivers have the opportunity to take part in an Education and Coaching Programme that runs parallel with the racing season. The programme includes driver coaching at the races by professional race drivers, attending a Formula One test, fitness courses, tuition in driving technique and strategy, as well as seminars on sponsoring and sport management.

Among the 20 team drivers in this season’s Formula One, there are now four Formula BMW graduates: Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock. The test and reserve drivers add three more to the tally, namely Christian Klien, Sebastien Buemi and Nicolas Hülkenberg.

In the words of BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "With our worldwide Formula BMW concept, we offer drivers and teams a platform which, in this format, is unprecedented in a junior series and which allows them to benefit from our Formula One involvement. Through Formula BMW the drivers are equipped with the tools they need to assert themselves successfully in the world of professional motor racing."


- Nikki Kemp - also photo


15.11.2008 / MaP

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