Picariello Perfect in FMCS Season Finale

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(Shanghai, China – 18 October 2015) – Absolute Racing driver Alessio Picariello (22) of Belgium made a perfect weekend in Shanghai at the Formula Masters China Series (FMCS) 2015 season finale with two lights-to-flag victories in Races 17 and 18 at the Shanghai International Circuit. Picariello closed out the season with five straight victories, finishing fourth in the Drivers Classification, despite only joining FMCS mid-season.
The final two races of the 2015 season showcased the competitiveness of China and the region’s leading international junior single-seater championship. While Picariello stood atop the podium in both races, the fledging talents piled on the pressure for two exciting final races. Teammate Oliver Askew (18) of the United States was second in Race 17 with Australian Nicholas Rowe (17) of Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG rounding out the podium. In Race 18, FMCS 2015 Champion Martin Rump (19) of Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG finished second, with Australian Jake Parsons of Meritus.GP (20) returning to the podium after a tough weekend.
While Estonian Rump sealed the championship title in Zhuhai last month, Parsons wrapped up second place in the overall Drivers Classification in the final race of the season, with fellow Australian Rowe finishing third in his debut FMCS season. Picariello is fourth overall, with Australian Aidan Read (16) of Eurasia Motorsport rounding out the top five. Star Racing Academy (SRA) and Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG driver Yuan Bo won the FMCS Best Chinese Driver Trophy for the second time, with his strong performance this weekend in Shanghai allowing him to overtake rival and fellow SRA driver Jeffrey Ye in the trophy standings. With Rump and Rowe’s strong seasons, Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG was the top FMCS team for the second straight year.
Drama stared early in the morning’s Race 17, which started behind the Safety Car due to part of the track surface on the grid having deteriorated. When racing began, Picariello led from teammate Askew, with Rump and Rowe following close behind. Rowe began to close in on Rump and got past his team mate on Lap 3, before setting his sights on Askew. While Rowe would get close, Askew was able to stay in front, with the Absolute Racing pair then pulling away from the rest of the field.
Mid-way through the field, SRA drivers Sean Zheng (17), Ye and Yuan were locked in a close battle. Yuan would get past Ye on Lap 3, with Ye spinning a lap later and falling to the back of the grid. Zheng would finish sixth, just behind Read in fifth place, for his best finish of the weekend. Meritus.GP team mates Daniel Woodroof (19) and Parsons were also battling for positions, although Parsons was not able to get past the Malaysian driver.
In Race 18, Picariello lined up on the front row with rival Rump alongside, both determined to take the final race win of the 2015 season. Behind them was Parsons, who was also eager for redemption, and Askew. A confident Picariello led the field from pole, with Rump and Parsons close behind. However, the Safety Car was soon called out, bringing the field together and forcing Picariello to again fend off a hard-charging Rump. When racing resumed on Lap 4, Picariello did just that and held the lead. However on that same lap, Rowe spun, bringing out the Safety Car for a second time.
Picariello was forced to again be wheel-perfect when racing resumed on Lap 7, successfully holding off Rump and Parsons. Rump, however, continued to pile on the pressure, while Parsons was forced to defend against a fast-approaching Read. In the closing stages of the race, Picariello and Rump began to pull away from the rest of the field, with Picariello ultimately taking the chequered flag to conclude a perfect weekend in Shanghai. With Ye having spun early in the race, Yuan’s seventh-place finish allowed him to take first place in the FMCS Best Chinese Driver Trophy standings.
“Congratulations to all of our drivers for a fantastic weekend of racing to close out what has been an intensely competitive season,” said Dominic Lyncker, Head of Group Sports Car, Motorsport and Car Culture, Volkswagen Group (China). “With young talents from across China, Asia, Europe, Australia, South Africa and the United States, the championship has, in just its third season, proven its efficacy and has established itself as a credible international benchmark. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our drivers, teams and partners for a great season.”

Driver Quotes
Alessio Picariello/ Absolute Racing/ 1st Races 17 and 18
“Race 18 was the hardest race of the weekend for me as having the Safety Car wasn’t easy – I had to start each time again from zero. Martin was very strong in this race. I spent the whole time on the straight looking in my mirrors to see if he was coming! We were really close from the lap times and it was a great race.
“The goal this weekend was to win three races and I’m very happy to have achieved that. When I came to KL for my first FMCS race, we didn’t have so much experience – the team was new to FMCS and I hadn’t been in a car for a long time. What’s nice is from there, we kept improving and to finish fourth in the championship after three weekends is great.”

Oliver Askew/ Absolute Racing/ 2nd Race 17
“[In Race 17] I got a good start – I was about half a second behind Alessio after the first lap, but he was very quick. He began to pull away and I also pulled away from the other cars. Absolute Racing has done a great job and we seem to be quite quick on used tires.”

Martin Rump/ Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG/ 2nd Race 18
“[In Race 18] Alessio and I had pretty much the same pace and it was impressive to see how much effort the team put in to catch up to Absolute Racing for the third race. I put some pressure on Alessio, but couldn’t quite get close enough to overtake.
“The whole season has just been marvelous. FMCS has really developed me as a driver and given me confidence for the next years to come. I think this year has improved my skills a lot.”

Nicholas Rowe/ Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG /3rd Race 17
“I had a good start and I was able to stay behind Martin and catch up to him. After I got past him I was able to pull away and I started closing in on Oliver, who had made a bit of a mistake and I was able to get a bit closer. But at the end of the day, he was a little bit quicker than me and hopefully in the last race we can chase some of that gap down.”

Jake Parsons/ Meritus.GP/ 3rd Race 18
“It’s nice to finish the weekend on a high note. It was a bit of a testing weekend as we carried our gearbox issue from Zhuhai over to Shanghai and so a big thanks to the team for their hard work. [Race 18] was a bit tough as I had some pressure from Aidan [Read], but I just kept focused and did my best to manage the gap.
“I’m very happy to finish on the high note and to finish in second position – it looked like it was a risk this morning when Nick was on the podium. We came back with a nice finish and all in all I’m happy with the year.”
Yuan Bo/ Cebu Pacific Air by KCMG/ 2015 FMCS Best Chinese Driver Trophy Winner
“For me, the weekend was quite difficult as I was racing in both FMCS and in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia. I tried to push a lot over the weekend and felt I improved throughout the weekend. There was some good fighting over the weekend and I’m really happy to come away with a second FMCS Best Chinese Driver Trophy. All season, racing in FMCS has been good training for GT racing and I want to thank my team as well as SRA for a great year.”