Giancarlo Vilarinho (Eurointernational) lives in Miami as he pursues his racing career, but the 17-year-old Brazilian may be considering a move to Salt Lake City after he dominated the three-race Formula BMW Americas weekend at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, winning Rounds 5, 6 and 7.
Vilarinho completed a three-race sweep of the Formula BMW Americas events this weekend at the 2.2-mile MMP East Course as he again led wire-to-wire to win Sunday's event. The victory, which came by a scant .327 seconds over Gabby Chaves, was the fifth consecutive series win for Vilarinho and the seventh in as many outings for the series-leading Eurointernational squad.
"I tried to work really hard this week with the team and with the car and it paid off in good results," Vilarinho said. "I like this track a lot, it's really important to manage the tires here and it suits my style well. I am very happy to take the lead in the championship but there is a lot more to do this season."
Chaves (Eurointernational) and Formula BMW Junior Gianmarco Raimondo (Autotecnica) resumed their battle on Sunday after spending the weekend's previous two races battling fiercely throughout each lap. Chaves held off Raimondo to score the second spot, settling for second after nearly swiping the lead on a late restart.
The field circulated behind the safety car after contact between Robert Garcia and Barrett Mertins brought out the caution flag, with the cleanup leaving the field just one green-flag lap to settle the day's events. Chaves got a strong restart and slipped his nose to the rear of Vilarinho's car heading into the first turn, but wisely saw that further pressing the issue
could have caused contact that could have ruined his day.
"I thought I had him going into the first corner. I thought I had him outbraked, but I just wasn't close enough," said Chaves. "This was a tough weekend. We were fast in the test sessions, but couldn't seem to get it working during the race."
Raimondo held off Michael Lewis (Eurointernational) for the final step on the podium, marking Raimondo's second podium finish of the weekend. The Canadian was just one second behind the leader at the end of 15 laps, finishing a run that saw him maintain his third-place spot in the season standings.
"It was a very difficult race today, there was a lot of pressure through the whole race," Raimondo said. "Overall it was a decent weekend. We would have liked to have done better, but we showed that we can run with the Eurointernational cars, now we just need to move up a little bit and get some wins."
Lewis widened his lead in the Rookie standings with his fourth-place finish in Sunday's race, while James Kovacic (Team Apex) and Alex Ellis (Autotecnica) followed in sixth and seventh.
The Formula BMW Americas series will take the next month off, allowing teams and drivers to concentrate on training for the second half of the season. The series gets back to action July 17-18 with its annual sojourn to Lime Rock Park where Rounds 8 and 9 will be contested on the 1.53-mile Connecticut race course.
This weekend's races will not be the only time that the series spends at Miller Motorsports Park this year. On July 8-10 and August 17-19, Formula BMW Americas will host licensing courses at MMP, which qualifies entrants to apply for an official FIA International C License.