Gianmarco Raimondo won the first two Formula BMW Americas races that he ever
entered, but it wasn't until a cloudy Saturday nearly two full seasons later that he got to
share the victory celebration with his hometown fans.
The St. Catherines, Ontario native drove a picture-perfect race around his hometown
Mosport International Raceway layout Saturday to score his first win of the year, holding
off series champion Gabby Chaves to win by .855 seconds.
"Gabby battled me tough for sure," Raimondo said. "I tried to pull as hard as I could but he
was there the whole time. But I knew I could hold him off in most of the corners and we got
it done. It's great to get a win at Mosport!"
Chaves shadowed Raimondo for nearly every lap, never falling more than three carlengths
behind until the last lap. After trying passing opportunities in every corner, Chaves settled
on a move in the tight 5A and 5B turns and Raimondo was equal to the task, holding him
off and sprinting away to the checkered flag.
"I knew it would be hard to pass me coming out of Turn 8 because I was getting more
radius coming out of there and no matter what he did, I was going to be able to hold on to
the lead," Raimondo said. "The problem was, the track was a little damp and you were
never really sure where the grip was, so that made it hard as well."
American Michael Lewis vaulted into the rookie points lead with a fifth-place finish, taking
advantage of a second straight race where rookie points leader James Kovacic suffered a
race-ending accident. This one came on Lap 2 when Kovacic and Team Apex stablemate
Joao Horto touched wheels, sending Kovacic into the tire wall.
Canadian Alex Ellis was the highest-placed rookie, coming home in fourth, and is now tied
with Kovacic, just six points behind Lewis for the rookie title with Sunday's season finale
set to seal the deal on the 2009 championship.
The second place finish for Chaves enabled him to keep his remarkable podium streak alive
in 2009. The Colombian-American has finished on the podium in each of the year's 13
races and will look to make it 14 for 14 tomorrow.
"Having already clinched the championship did change the way I approached this race for
sure," Chaves said. "I didn't want to do anything stupid and cost someone else some points,
but once we got a few laps from the end and I saw I had a chance to win, I really went hard.
Gianmarco ran a great race and it was a good battle."
Brazilian Giancarlo Vilarinho ran third from start to finish to round out the podium,
marking a strong rebound from a heavy crash in Road America. Aforementioned rookie
contenders Ellis and Lewis rounded out the top five while Horto fought back to sixth after
being dropped all the way back to 10th after his incident with Kovacic earlier in the race.