GP2 » 24 November 2008
Grunwell takes V6 Asia crown for Meritus.
Team Qi-Meritus received another welcome confidence boost ahead of the second round of the GP2 Asia Series as James Grunwell clinched another title for the ultra-successful outfit.
Although still largely finding its feet in GP2 after only joining the series for its Asian arm last winter, Meritus has been a near unstoppable force in its home region, with Grunwell's success in the Formula V6 Asia series bringing the team its 32nd Asian championship in the past twelve years.
The Thailand-based Briton - who was actually born in Holland to a British father and Dutch mother - turned on the style to win the V6 title at China's Shanghai International Circuit, taking a step closer to overhauling absent team-mate - and current Meritus GP2 star - Earl Bamber when he won the first of the double-header weekend's sprint races on Saturday and then repeating the feat in Sunday's first 'Grand Race'. Another win in the afternoon's second sprint confirmed the crown, before a disappointing non-score - in an evening race held in treacherous conditions - rounded out the campaign.
"After winning the first three races of the weekend, James was guaranteed of winning the drivers' crown, and his three victories had also assured The Pizza Company Team Qi-Meritus of the team championship," team manager Firhat Mokhzani commented, "We would have liked to have made it four wins but the weather was treacherous and James spurn on the first lap and could not recover.
"There was fog and mist and he opted to play it safe instead of pushing, as both titles were already won. It was a pity as we were confident we could have won all four races, but it was not to be."
Team-mate Bamber finished as runner-up on the year despite not racing in China, having been required to race for Team New Zealand in the A1GP series at Sepang, and Grunwell now hopes that his success can help him emulate the Kiwi on a bigger stage.
"I have learnt so much at Meritus and will always be grateful to the team, especially Peter Thompson," he noted, "I have been with him since [the age of] 14 and he has taught me everything I need to know about racing, about life and about character building.
"But I need to move on and get as much experience as I can elsewhere. Motorsports in Asia is still growing and maybe, after five years elsewhere, I can still come back here, but, right now, I need to get a feel of racing in other parts of the world.
"The United States is a good option and the IndyCar series sounds exciting but, wherever I go in the next step of my racing career, I know I will be equipped with some sound knowledge of what it takes to succeed in this very competitive world."
Grunwell's success makes him the second Briton in as many years to win the V6 title with Meritus, following on from James Winslow, and provides the team with a welcome fillip before it tackles the second round of the GP2 Asia Series on the opening weekend of December. Bamber has already claimed one podium finish, at the season-opener in China, and will be looking to take that momentum further in Dubai.
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