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Blomqvist flies to maiden Macau podium on Formula BMW debut

16-year-old Tom Blomqvist delivered another stellar performance by charging to a podium finish in a one-off appearance in the Macau round of the Formula BMW Pacific Championship on 21 November 2010. Despite being compromised in qualifying and starting 10th, the teenager followed up his 2010 championship success in Formula Renault UK by putting in a mature drive around the treacherous Guia Circuit. The result was capped off with a fastest lap which underlined Tom’s raw speed and ability to adapt, having never previously raced in Formula BMW or around the streets of Macau.

“Honestly, after qualifying I was quite upset as I really felt we should have been on pole. The number of crashes and yellow flags here in Macau is like nowhere else. It really messed up our quali,” said Blomqvist. “That said, it is has been a really good learning curve and on Sunday we showed what we were capable of by coming through the pack. The circuit is really amazing and I cannot wait to come back! I want to say another big thank you to HiQ who have made this experience possible.”

Having spent the Thursday free practise session steadily improving as he learnt both the Guia Circuit and his Eurointernational Formula BMW car, Tom went into qualifying confident of a strong result.  That hope was scuppered as the entire session was effectively run under yellow flags due a series of incidents. The first yellow was thrown on the out-lap as Natasha Seatter failed to complete even half a lap. Due to the number of accidents, a mid-session red-flag was thrown in order to clear the circuit, however it was not long before another yellow flag was thrown. Tom who was obeying rules in order to avoid the penalties which had been handed out in Formula 3, refrained from improving his middle sector time as his rivals continued to push. Ironically race officials took a lenient view, handing out no penalties, which meant Tom’s cautious ‘banker’ lap was only good enough for 10th.

Having composed himself for the race, Tom made a solid start and made a position before the pack reached the high-speed Mandarin corner. From there a number of first lap collisions which included front-runners Richard Bradley and Oscar Tunjo allowed Tom to make his way up to fourth by the end of lap one. A safety car was deployed to clear the stranded cars and debris, which led the field around for two laps and reduced the race distance. When the race restarted Tom set about trying to chase down Kotaro Sakurai and team-mate Tomoki Nojiri, who lay in second and third positions respectively. As Nojiri passed Sakurai at Lisboa, Tom waited for his turn to make a pass. On lap seven Tom engineered an opportunity by getting a good exit from the final corner and drafting Sakurai to the Lisboa corner, where he outbraked the Philippine driver in a text-book manoeuvre. By this time the leaders had pulled out quite a considerable gap, meaning a string of new fastest laps from Tom were not enough for him to catch second place Nojiri.

Tom will now focus on an F3 testing programme in preparation for the 2011 season. The Saffron Walden based driver is also waiting to see if he has been successful in the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. Should he win, he would become the youngest ever winner and collect not only £100,000 but also a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 test.