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Lime Rock Coverage:
Day Two, Part One
Ballsy Move Gives Chaves FBMW Victory

Lime Rock, Conn., July 18 It's a situation every race car driver recognizes. You have an opportunity to make a move that will give you victory or crash you out of the race. You know there is no choice. Not if you want to call yourself a race car driver. Thus, you seize the moment to become hero or goat.

Gabby Chaves on the Podium Image Gabby Chaves celebrates his win in the first FBMW race which allowed him take over the points lead.

Gabby Chaves (7th in the American Driver Ranking) found himself in that situation on the last restart of the first Formula BMW Americas race at Lime Rock Park. Chaves moved to the inside as the green flag flew. Gianmarco Raimondo moved left to block. However, he left just enough room to fit a car, and fit a car in is just what Chaves did.

"Before the last restart, I was running the fastest laps," Chaves said. "I tried to stay close on the restart. There was a bit of a gap on the inside, and I took it."

They both left their braking as late as possible heading into Big Bend with mere inches separating their cars. Behind them, there were similar moves taking place. As tire smoke spewed from the cars, Chaves hung onto his racer, and Raimondo was forced to slot in behind him.

"He got inside me," Raimondo said. "Then, I had to play it safe with two laps to go."

The next time around for the last lap, Chaves ran down the inside of the main straightaway, forcing Raimondo to attempt a pass on the outside going into Big Bend. The outside move rarely works, and this was no exception. As they came down the hill for the final run to the checkered flag, Raimondo tucked himself under Chaves' gearbox. He popped out as they drag raced to the stripe. Chaves hung on by a nose.

Field Runs Through Stream of Water Image At the start of the race, cars splash through the stream running across the track thanks to an overnight deluge.

Chaves, a dual American, Columbian citizen, started from the pole, but lost the lead at the start. With the track still wet from an overnight deluge (which also left a stream of water running across the backstraight), Chaves starting spot on the inside, which is offline, was still damp.

"At the beginning, my part of the racetrack was a little damp, so he [Raimondo] had the advantage," Chaves said.

Raimondo started second because the original second starter, Alex Ellis, had his qualifying times disallowed due to a mechanical infraction. Raimondo was able to open a bit of a gap and maintain it through the first two restarts.

Michael Lewis' Damaged Car Image Michael Lewis' day ended early with a trip into the wall after colliding with Giancarlo Vilarinho, damaging his right rear.

The first full course yellow was caused when American Michael Lewis, who started fourth, came together with points leader Giancarlo Vilarinho. Vilarinho's left front and Lewis' right rear made contact going into the uphill, causing Lewis to spin and slide into the wall, ending his day. It got worse after the race when Lewis was excluded from the results due to outside mechanical assistance.

After the second restart, Raimondo could no longer pull away from Chaves, and eventually Chaves started turning quick laps. This led to Chaves being primed and ready after the third restart to pull the ambitious move, giving him the victory and the points lead.

For the other Americans, Barrett Mertins finished ninth, the last running car, while also being penalized 30 seconds for avoidable contact, and Robert Garcia dropped out two laps short causing the final full course yellow. He was credited with 10th.

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Copyright © 2009 by Russell Jaslow and American Driver Ranking. All Rights Reserved.

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