Chris Wootton has shown some true Aussie determination this afternoon in Round 1 of Formula BMW Pacific, overcoming an aerodynamic deficiency to finish second at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia.
After yesterday qualifying second – missing pole position by an agonising six one-hundredths of a second (0.06), Chris was determined to make amends today, however, being swamped off the line, he dropped to sixth at the first turn.
Fighting his way back through the field, the Australian Formula BMW Junior was touched from behind at turn four on the opening lap, which pushed the 20-year old Brisbane-based driver’s car into the competitor directly in front of him, damaging the left front wing endplate.
From there, he battled valiantly – the long straightaways of the Sepang International Circuit were hurting him, although he continued to show strong pace. All weekend he has been fastest in Sectors 1 and 3 and during the race, this trend continued.
Despite the aero problems he was experiencing, his Eurasia Motorsport Formula BMW FB02 proved superb in most sections of the racetrack.
Although an eventful race – which saw plenty action both in front and behind him – Chris was able to come home in second placing – behind pole-sitter, Irishman, Gary Thompson.
Tomorrow’s Round 2 of Formula BMW Pacific will see Chris start alongside Thompson on the front row of the grid. He’s hoping to get a better start and be on racing terms with the younger driver for the entire 10 lap distance.
BEHIND THE HELMET: CHRIS WOOTTON
“We’re very happy with the result, considering the fact I had major front end downforce issues from basically the start.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything more all things considered. Championship wise, it’s a fantastic result. After getting an ordinary start and being bottled up on the first lap, to come through and finish second is very pleasing.
“As for qualifying, to miss pole by six-one-hundredths yesterday was so frustrating! The team thought the effort was awesome, but I wasn’t so thrilled!
“Reflecting on today’s race, there was plenty happening out there. Aside from the opening lap, we were lucky to get through much of the trouble and could run our own race.
“To consistently set the fastest times in Sectors 1 and 3 as we have done throughout the weekend is credit to Greg Wheeler and the Eurasia Motorsport team. It shows they have my Formula BMW FB02 dialled in well. As for Sector 2…I’ll work on that tomorrow!
“On tomorrow’s race, I’ll be on the front row alongside Gary once again. I know what I did off the start and will rectify it. I’m aiming to be right with him from the beginning so I don’t get caught in the mess as I was today.
“We have a few of our Asian supporters here over the weekend and it’s great they can see us doing well. We’re so appreciative of their support and I really hope we can go one better tomorrow for them!”
Tomorrow’s Formula BMW Pacific Round2 will take place at 2:45pm local time in Kuala Lumpur, 5:45pm AEDST.
Attached is a photograph of the front-wing damage that affected Chris Wootton in his charge to second today at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia.
WHAT IS FORMULA BMW?
Formula BMW is the world’s leading entry level open-wheel Formula racing category.
The Formula BMW FB02 weighs 465kg excluding driver. It is powered by a 1.2 litre four cylinder engine which accelerates to 100kph in less than four seconds and will hit a top speed of 230kph.
All cars are identical and innovations such as the FORS (Formula Rescue Seat) were developed by BMW Motorsport specifically for Formula BMW.
Formula BMW is conducted in three territories – the United States (Formula BMW Americas), with Formula 1 Grands Prix in Europe (Formula BMW Europe) and Formula BMW Pacific in pan-Asia.
WHO IS CHRIS WOOTTON?
Chris is a 20-year-old race driver from the Brisbane suburb of Birkdale. He started karting competition in 2005 and quickly showed potential – taking out Rookie of the Year honours in two classes.
At the end of 2007, Chris underwent the Formula BMW Scholarship program. He impressed the judges with not only his ability behind the wheel, but approach to the sport and fitness. He was then offered a scholarship for the 2008 Formula BMW Pacific Series.
Finishing as the second highest Rookie in the Series and seventh overall, being offered a scholarship for the second year in succession is testament to his dedication.
Aside from motorsport, Chris takes a strong interest in a majority of sports. Taking cues from his mentor – Mark Webber – he concentrates on being one of the fittest drivers around, becoming a regular in the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge. In the two Challenges he has completed, he finished in front of many well-known sportsmen and adventure racers.
Chris will chase the 2009 Formula BMW Pacific Series victory with Eurasia Motorsport.
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