AP: Sepang round two race notes

On-form Al Fardan makes it a double. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - An on-form Hamed Al Fardan (BRN/Team Meritus) made an emphatic one-off return to Formula BMW Asia this weekend, taking victory in Round 2 in front of the Formula One fraternity in ...

On-form Al Fardan makes it a double.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - An on-form Hamed Al Fardan (BRN/Team Meritus) made an emphatic one-off return to Formula BMW Asia this weekend, taking victory in Round 2 in front of the Formula One fraternity in Malaysia, and showing the young-guns he is at the top of his game. However, the new crop of talented youngsters gave the driver, who has two seasons' experience under his belt, a run for his money with Australia's Sam Abay (Team E-Rain) and Rookie Earl Bamber (NZL/Team Meritus) giving a glimpse of their enormous potential finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Al Fardan's second win in as many starts gives him a 12 point lead on the championship table from Sam Abay in 2nd on 28 points. BMW Junior James Grunwell (THA/Team Meritus), who finished 2nd in Round 1, lies third on 24 points. Top of the Rookie Cup standings is Bamber on 35, just three points ahead of Grunwell.

Top BMW Junior was Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport), 16, who finished an impressive 5th ahead of another seasoned Formula BWM Asia driver, You Kyoung-Ouk (Team E-Rain) of Korea. Ricciardo's result puts him third in the Rookie Cup standings and 5th overall in the driver championship. Other BMW Juniors Grunwell (17) and Dominic Storey (16/NZL/Eurasia Motorsport) 16, were 6th and 7th respectively in just their second Formula BMW Asia outing. Aaron Lim, the final BMW Junior and embarking on his second season this weekend, was 8th overall, but had struggled with set up all week.

Off the grid for the 10-lap race at the 5.6km Sepang International Circuit, it was Abay who roared away with pole man Grunwell left behind. However, it was Al Fardan, starting from 5th, who shot off the grid, dived down the inside and was up to 2nd at turn one. From there, he was on the charge to Abay, catching the youngster and grabbing the lead he was to keep to the chequered flag. Bamber and Ricciardo were dicing for 2nd and 3rd spot, with Grunwell in 5th, until Bamber, like Al Fardan and Abay in front of him, pulled out a gap from the chasing field and began to close in on Abay. With three laps to go, Bamber had his sights firmly set on 2nd, making a clean and decisive move on Abay which unfortunately he was unable to complete, dropping him back to third. Said Bamber: "That was a hairy moment when I passed Sam. It might work next time!"

Although Al Fardan had originally planned to only compete in the opening rounds of this year's season, he is now contemplating a full-time return: "It all went perfectly to plan today, just as it did yesterday. I pushed Sam until he made a mistake. I believe I'm driving better than I was last year - I have more confidence and myself and the team are working really well together."

Abay was understandably thrilled to be on the podium for a second time at the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix, but almost lost for words when BMW Sauber Formula 1 Team's Jacque Villeneuve appeared to present the trophies: "This is almost a dream come true for me. We're looking good for the year and I'm excited, although there's a lot more left in me. As a BMW Junior, I'm still developing and there's definitely more to come."

BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen: "Again, Formula BMW has proved to be the benchmark in motor sport's entry-level categories. We saw very strong and clean racing this weekend with stunning manoeuvres. Congratulations to the winner of the first two rounds, Hamed Al Fardan."

As part of the comprehensive, season-long Education & Coaching Programme in which each BMW Junior participates, the youngsters were yesterday given a tour of the BMW Sauber F1 Team garage, had the chance to meet and ask questions of Nick Heidfeld, and given a technical briefing on the state-of- the-art Formula One car.

Rounds 4, 3 & 5 of Formula BMW Asia will be held at Sepang International Circuit on May 13-14.

Formula BMW Asia Points Standings after Round 2.
1. Hamed Al Fardan (BRN/Team Meritus) 40 points; 2. Sam Abay (AUS/Team E- Rain) 28 points; 3. James Grunwell (THA/Team Meritus) 24 points; 4. Earl Bamber (NZL/Team Meritus) 22 points; 5. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport) 18 points; 6. Dominic Storey (NZL/Eurasia Motorsport) 12 points; 7. Aaron Lim (MAS/Eurasia Motorsport) 6 points; 8. Aditya Akkineni (IND/Team E-Rain) 5 points; 9. Mohammed Al Baharna (BRN/Team E-Rain) 4 points; 10. Zahir Ali (INA/Eurasia Motorsport) 4 points; 11. Rayomand Banajee (IND/Privateer) 1 point.

Rookie Cup Points Standings after Round 2.
1. Earl Bamber 35 points; 2. James Grunwell 32 points; 3. Daniel Ricciardo 27 points; 4. Dominic Storey 20 points; 5. Aditya Akkineni 16 points.

-fbmw-

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Mario Theissen , Daniel Ricciardo , Aaron Lim , Zahir Ali , James Grunwell , Sam Abay , Earl Bamber , Dominic Storey
Teams Sauber