AMER: Series Road America rounds 10, 11, 12 preview

Formula BMW Americas Points Chase Heats Up At Road America Tripleheader Consistency paid big dividends for the Formula BMW Americas drivers and teams on their July trip to Lime Rock Park, as solid weekends by Gabby Chaves and rookie...

Formula BMW Americas Points Chase Heats Up At Road America Tripleheader

Consistency paid big dividends for the Formula BMW Americas drivers and teams on their July trip to Lime Rock Park, as solid weekends by Gabby Chaves and rookie James Kovacic vaulted them to the top of their respective point standings.

Victories by both drivers in the weekend's two events propelled Eurointernational's Chaves back into the points lead, while Team Apex's Kovacic stormed to the lead in the chase for the rookie cup with a pair of podium finishes. But this weekend's tripleheader at Elkhart Lake's interminable 4.048-mile Road America layout gives every driver in the field the chance to move to the top of the standings.

With just five races left on the Formula BMW Americas calendar, Chaves leads teammate Giancarlo Vilarinho by 20 points in the championship battle, while Kovacic has a 21-point edge on Eurointernational's Michael Lewis and has a lead of 24 markers over Autotecnica's Alex Ellis in the rookie battle.

Chaves has been the picture of consistency over the previous nine races of the season, scoring three victories and finishing on the podium in every single event. He ended Vilarinho's five-race win streak with a one carlength victory over Autotecnica's Gianmarco Raimondo at Lime Rock as Vilarinho yielded the series lead after failing to make the podium in either of the two weekend races.

Kovacic became the first driver this season to win a Formula BMW Americas event from somewhere other than the pole position as the young Australian came from the third row to score his first series victory. His weekend allowed him to leapfrog both Lewis and Ellis in the rookie chase, but the former karting star knows that his work is far from complete.

"The win at Lime Rock was a fantastic result for the team and myself. However the season is still a long way from over and there is a lot of hard work ahead of the team and myself," Kovacic said. "I've been told that Road America is a very tough track and the team has told me that slipstreaming will play a big part in the race. It will be a very tough weekend for all the team and myself, however, we will give it our best shot. My main aim is to focus on my driving and keep learning. If I do everything well, I believe that I can challenge for wins. Lime Rock proved this."

While Chaves and Vilarinho are battling atop the championship standings, they are pulling on the same rope in relation to the team championship as they look to propel Eurointernational to the title. American rookie contender Lewis also hopes to aid Eurointernational's cause while the Canadian duo of Ellis and Raimondo will fight to close the 31-point gulf that Autotecnica faces with five races to run.

Ellis is looking to build off of the momentum of scoring his first career pole position in Lime Rock, and is looking forward to the challenge that Road America poses, and perhaps in joining fellow Canadians Jacques Villeneuve, Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani in the Elkhart Lake winner's circle.

"I'm really feeling positive heading into Road America as both Team Autotecnica and myself really showed our potential speed at Lime Rock last month, and we have a lot of momentum heading into Wisconsin," reports Ellis. "Road America is said to be a very good "racing" track, so I'm really looking forward to some exciting racing and hopefully my first career win."

The Formula BMW Americas drivers will have three practice sessions on Thursday in preparation for the three race days. The cars will have another practice session Friday with qualifying for Rounds 10 and 12 on Friday afternoon. Saturday will see qualifying for Round 11, followed by the series' first race of the weekend at 4:10 p.m. The final two rounds of the weekend will each take place Sunday, prior to the American Le Mans Series race.

-credit: bmw

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Michael Lewis , Giancarlo Vilarinho , Gabby Chaves