AP: Sentul rounds 9, 10 race report

Ali scores pair of perfect home wins. Citeureup Bogor, Indonesia -- Indonesian racer Zahir Ali (19/Team TARADTM) scored two perfect lights-to-flag wins from pole today in Rounds 9 and 10 of Formula BMW Asia. The driver didn't put a wheel ...

Ali scores pair of perfect home wins.

Citeureup Bogor, Indonesia -- Indonesian racer Zahir Ali (19/Team TARADTM) scored two perfect lights-to-flag wins from pole today in Rounds 9 and 10 of Formula BMW Asia. The driver didn't put a wheel wrong in either of the 15-lap races on Indonesia's 3.965km Sentul Circuit.

Second in Round 9 was Thailand's James Grunwell (18/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus), followed by Rookie Sean McDonagh (18/Team E-Rain) taking his maiden podium finish and a long overdue result for the promising Korean-based American. BMW Junior David Zhu (16/CHN/Team Meritus) crossed the line in 4th, but was later disqualified, along with Dennis Vollmair (17/GER/Engstler Motorsport), for dangerous driving. That promoted BMW Junior Akhil Khushlani (17/IND/Eurasia Motorsport) to 4th.

Round 10 saw Ali dominate once again, although Grunwell put up a spirited fight until a mistake saw him spin off at turn one. He recovered to finish 2nd, ahead of Kyle Mitchell (16/RSA/Eurasia Motorsport) who drove a phenomenal race having started from 11th on the grid. Over the closing laps of the race, Mitchell had a nail-biting battle with Khushlani, but the determined South African took the final podium place.

Despite a difficult day, Jazeman still tops the Driver Classification after 10 rounds, but his lead over 2nd placed Grunwell has been whittled down to just five points. Hong Kong's Ross Jamison (17/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) remains 3rd while Ali's two victories today promote him to 4th.

In the hotly-contested Rookie Cup, Jamison has a 13 point lead over Khushlani, while Mitchell drops to 3rd from 2nd.

The drama began even before the 2007 field took Indonesia's 3.965km fast and sweeping Sentul Circuit for the first time in Round 9. Championship leader Jazeman had set the provisional 3rd fastest time in the session, but that was subsequently taken away from when it was discovered it had been clocked under a red flag. That put him back from 3rd to 6th on the starting grid. Off the line, Ali made a good start and never looked back, despite the 5-lap Safety Car period closing up the field. The pace car was called out after a coming together between Jazeman and Mitchell, which ended both their races.

Ali, who has been on the pace all season so far but has suffered ill luck with the exception of his victory in Malaysia in May, was overjoyed to have turned his fortunes in front of a home crowd: "It feels fantastic to be on pole and to take the win in the first race! Practice was a bit of a worry to be honest, but qualifying and our race pace were good. I hope my luck is changing as I need to get some championship points back, but there is still a long way to go and a lot of work ahead of us this weekend."

McDonagh was delighted to be on the podium at last, having just missed out last month in Malaysia, and having showed real progress in his debut season. "It feels great, just awesome! I had a good start and just made sure I finished." Grunwell, who found himself sandwiched between the two, concentrated in keeping sight of Ali ahead and ensuring he didn't give McDonagh the advantage of a tow.

Round 10 saw a continuation of the on-track action, although the race had a lower rate of attrition with 13 drivers crossing the line. It was another unlucky outing for championship leader Jazeman. Starting from the back of the grid after his altercation with Mitchell, the Malaysian teenager was up to 5th when another driver collided with him. That dropped him back down the field, and he eventually crossed the line in 11th.

Rounds 11 and 12 of the 2007 Formula BMW Asia series follow tomorrow, with a cautiously optimistic Ali hoping to make it a perfect four wins out of four races.

-credit: fbmw.asia

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Zahir Ali , Ross Jamison , Kyle Mitchell , Akhil Khushlani , Sean McDonagh , James Grunwell , David Zhu