AP: Chengdu rounds 13-16 preview

Brand new China track brings fresh challenges. Chengdu, China -- All the Formula BMW Asia teams and drivers will be faced with a new set of challenges next week at the newly-completed Chengdu Goldenport Circuit for Rounds 13 to 16 on September...

Brand new China track brings fresh challenges.

Chengdu, China -- All the Formula BMW Asia teams and drivers will be faced with a new set of challenges next week at the newly-completed Chengdu Goldenport Circuit for Rounds 13 to 16 on September 15 and 16.

The Asian Festival of Speed weekend will be the first international motorsport meeting to be held at the new facility, located in China's Sichuan Province, and the race will be on for the teams to get to grips with the unfamiliar 3.7km track.

As the series moves to China for the final 10 rounds of the 2007 season, Thailand's James Grunwell (18/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) tops the Driver Classification after 12 races, but only inherited the lead from Malaysian team mate Jazeman Jaafar after the last event in Indonesia in July. Jazeman, who had led the points standings from the start of the season, will be desperate to reclaim the lead and trails Grunwell by just two points.

However, close on their heels and showing superb form in his second Formula BMW Asia season is Indonesian Zahir Ali (20/Team TARADTM). Ali has won four races so far this year, one more than Grunwell, but a couple of unlucky outings mean he is currently 22 points behind the Thai.

Next in the Driver Classification, and leading the Rookie Cup which is this year one of the most hard-fought the series has seen so far, are three BMW Juniors who have shown extraordinary talent on their racing debuts.

Hong Kong's Ross Jamison (17/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) leads the trio, and is keeping the more experienced drivers ahead of him firmly in his sights. His mature approach and skill on the track have been reflected in consistently good results.

Fellow Junior, Eurasia Motorsport's Kyle Mitchell (16) of South Africa has the most Rookie Cup wins so far, recording an impressive seven victories in 12 races. However, two DNFs mean he currently trails Jamison by 13 points. Team mate and Junior Akhil Khushlani of India (17) has also had a couple of unlucky outings, and was unable to start Round 12 due to extensive car damage after being the unfortunate victim of a racing incident in the earlier race.

As Formula BMW Asia arrives in China, one driver who has shown glimpses of his true talent, finishing on the podium twice so far in his debut season, and who will be looking to raise his game further is BMW Junior David Zhu. As his country continues to build a presence in motor racing, the search continues for likely future candidates for international stardom in the sport. The final three events of the 2007 season cover a broad area of China, from Chengdu in the West, Shanghai on the Eastern Seaboard where the series is an official support race to the 2007 Formula 1 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix, and Zhuhai in the South. This represents a golden opportunity for Zhu to bring his talent to the attention of the people of China.

In other news, former Formula BMW Asia drivers were making their mark during the pre-season A1GP test at Silverstone last week. Last year's Rookie Cup and BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo was in action with A1 Team Australia, fellow former Junior Aaron Lim tested with the Malaysian outfit, while both 2004 Champion Marchy Lee Ying-Kin and top Formula BMW Asia points-scorer Hanss Lin Po-Heng were both gunning for the second driver position with A1 Team China.

-credit: bmw.asia

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Daniel Ricciardo , Aaron Lim , Jazeman Jaafar , Zahir Ali , Ross Jamison , Kyle Mitchell , Akhil Khushlani , James Grunwell , David Zhu , Marchy Lee , Lin Po-Heng