AP: Michael Patrizi season finale preview

PATRIZI READY FOR CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWDOWN - Final two rounds of Formula BMW Asia this weekend - Late season charge gives Patrizi chance at title - Event supporting Chinese F1 Grand Prix at Shanghai - Young Aussie holds strong lead in coveted...

PATRIZI READY FOR CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWDOWN

- Final two rounds of Formula BMW Asia this weekend

- Late season charge gives Patrizi chance at title

- Event supporting Chinese F1 Grand Prix at Shanghai

- Young Aussie holds strong lead in coveted Rookie title

Young Australian Formula BMW driver Michael Patrizi faces the biggest race of his life this weekend at the final event of the 2005 Formula BMW Asia Championship at the Shanghai International Circuit, supporting the Chinese F1 Grand Prix.

Patrizi is 29 points behind Championship leader Salman Al Khalifa, but has been in fine form in the second half of the season. After an unlucky opening to the year, Patrizi's first in cutthroat Formula BMW competition, Bahrain's Al Khalifa opened up a huge series lead.

Patrizi however, has soared back into series contention with a string of podium results, including a win at the Goldenport Circuit in Beijing. Consistently at the front throughout the latter half of the year, the West Australian now has his eyes set on the two goals he set out to achieve this year, after he was awarded a prestigious BMW Motorsport Scholarship to compete in Formula BMW Asia.

"My season has gone a lot better in the second half of the year," said Patrizi. "I feel a lot more comfortable in the Formula BMW cars now. This is only my second year of car racing and my first in wings and slicks cars.

"Many of my rivals at the front of the field are in their second year of Formula BMW, so they had an advantage to start with, but now I feel I am right on top of things and am as fast as anyone. Coming into the last event I am focused on two goals the Overall Championship and the Rookie title. I am happy to be in this position."

The title showdown will be held as the main support act to the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix. Patrizi has been doing his best to learn the challenging and technical layout.

"I have been doing laps on the new PlayStation Portable of the Shanghai International Circuit, so I definitely know which way all the corners go," said Patrizi. "This year I have been quick at every circuit we have gone to and each one has been new to me, so Shanghai will be yet another challenge, but I am used to that this year.

"I have learnt to treat each new circuit as just another track, in another place, in another country. It prevents you from getting overwhelmed, as the spectacle of such a huge venue on a Formula 1 weekend is no small thing to a young driver. But I enjoy the challenge it is a great showcase to have the championship decider. I can't wait."

With a points deficit to haul in for the Championship, but a nine-point buffer up his sleeve for the Rookie crown, one could think Patrizi is in two minds on how to approach this weekend.

Patrizi is unfazed, however, and will treat Shanghai like any other race he enters, and race for the win. Patrizi is focused on being quick as soon as the cars hit the track at Shanghai, to put the pressure on his rivals right from the start.

"I want to follow on from the last few events, where I have qualified in the top three for each race. It would be awesome to be the Champion, but to be the top Rookie would be great as well.

"The Rookie Championship is something that BMW view very highly, so I really want to secure that this weekend, while chasing the overall Championship at the same time. In one way I will have to be aggressive to bridge the gap to Salman for the Championship, but I have to conserve my Rookie Championship lead.

"So I will drive my best and not be too concerned and just do my normal thing. In the last few rounds I have had great car speed and the results have come. I am confident I can make Shanghai my best round yet and cap the season off in fine style. The points will look after themselves."

BMW Motorsport award significant prizes and support to the winner of both the Formula BMW Asia Outright Championship and Rookie Championship, making both coveted titles. Race 1 for Formula BMW Asia is at 2:30pm Shanghai time, with the second race on Sunday at 10:00am Shanghai time.

-cj-

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Michael Patrizi