AP: Shanghai round 16 summary

Abay triumphs in Shanghai. Shanghai, China -- Sam Abay (AUS/Team E-Rain) made up for his birthday disappointment yesterday by taking a dominant win in Round 16 of Formula BMW Asia today, an official support race for the 2006 Formula 1 ...

Abay triumphs in Shanghai.

Shanghai, China -- Sam Abay (AUS/Team E-Rain) made up for his birthday disappointment yesterday by taking a dominant win in Round 16 of Formula BMW Asia today, an official support race for the 2006 Formula 1 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix, with a lights-to-flag victory. Arch rival and winner of Round 15, Earl Bamber (NZL/Team E-Rain), crossed the line in second, while BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport) notched up his 9th podium finish.

Abay's win gives him a 16 point lead over Bamber in the Driver Classification, with three more rounds to go. Ricciardo, in third, is still in with a mathematical chance for the overall title. Bamber retains his place at the top of the Rookie Cup Classification, but just 45 points separate the Kiwi and BMW Juniors Ricciardo, James Grunwell (THA/Team Meritus) and Dominic Storey (NZL/Eurasia Motorsport).

Abay got away well at the start but Ricciardo, starting from the second row, was flying and was up to second in the opening lap, with Storey in third. Bamber, 5th on the grid, got by Lim and began piling the pressure on Storey. Despite putting up a valiant defence, Bamber eventually made the move on his fellow Kiwi and took the chase to Ricciardo. Behind the leaders, Mohammed Al Barhana (BRN/Team E-Rain), Grunwell and Formula BMW USA Rookie driver, Maxime Pelletier (CAN/Gelles Racing), were engaged in a furious battle, at times three-abreast.

Back at the front of the field, it wasn't long until Ricciardo saw the red Mertius car looming large as Bamber closed the gap and made his move on the penultimate lap, his eyes firmly on Abay and the win. However, Ricciardo fought back and reclaimed second place, enduring intense pressure from an infuriated Bamber. It wasn't to last, and Bamber pipped him to the post at the flag. At the front, Abay had built up a comfortable gap of more than three seconds by the end of the 10 lap race, also setting the fastest lap for good measure.

Abay is now full of confidence for the title chase: "I'm positive about winning the title. I've got the best team and lots of support form them and family and friends," he said, adding: "Plus my team boss will break my legs if I don't win the title!"

Ricciardo enjoyed his race enormously: "I had a great battle with Earl and it was a good, clean fight. The podium finish is a great result, especially given the wet conditions."

Pelletier, making his Formula BMW Asia debut this weekend, finished 9th, behind Al Bahaharna and Grunwell, in just his second race with the series.

To the delight of the Formula BMW Asia youngsters, Dr. Mario Theissen was on hand to present the trophies on the podium.

The final three rounds of the 2006 season will be held at Southern China's Zhuhai International Circuit on October 21 and 22.

-credit: bmw.asia

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Maxime Pelletier , Mario Theissen , Daniel Ricciardo , James Grunwell , Sam Abay , Earl Bamber , Dominic Storey