AP: Shanghai rounds 15, 16 preview

All-China battle ground for Formula BMW Asia 2006 title. Shanghai, China -- The final five rounds of the 2006 Formula BMW Asia season will be held on Chinese race tracks, beginning with Rounds 15 and 16 run as official support races to the ...

All-China battle ground for Formula BMW Asia 2006 title.

Shanghai, China -- The final five rounds of the 2006 Formula BMW Asia season will be held on Chinese race tracks, beginning with Rounds 15 and 16 run as official support races to the Formula 1 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix this month.

Sam Abay (AUS/Team E-Rain) leads the Driver Classification after 14 races, but with five rounds to go in the 2006 season, four other drivers are still very much in contention.

Abay, who will celebrate his 19th birthday in Shanghai on September 30, was disappointed to see his 33 point lead in the title chase whittled down to just 14 after the Thailand rounds held earlier this month. The driver, who had been on the podium 10 times in 11 races, was less than comfortable on the Bira Circuit a fact which reflected in his performance.

The weekend did however confirm three of the BMW Juniors as serious Driver Title contenders. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport) scored his maiden series victory, also the first win of the season for his team and for a Junior. On stunning form, the 17-year-old followed that up with a second win in the same weekend, before Kiwi Earl Bamber (16/Team Meritus) grabbed the top spot back in Round 14, to notch up his sixth victory so far this year.

Aaron Lim (MAS/Eurasia Motorsport) put his run of ill-luck behind him to display his undoubted talent with two runner-up finishes while, although James Grunwell (THA/Team Meritus) didn't fare well on his "home" circuit, he is still in contention for the title and is 4th on the leaderboard.

BMW Junior Dominic Storey (NZL/Eurasia Motorsport) bounced back from a DNF in Round 13 to end the weekend on the podium.

The points situation is even closer in the Rookie Cup Classification, with Bamber holding a 19 point lead over Ricciardo, with Grunwell just six points adrift of his fellow BMW Junior.

All the Formula BMW Asia drivers will be looking forward to a second opportunity to impress the Formula One fraternity after the opening rounds at the start of the season, which were support races to the Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.

Abay for one will be glad to move from the tight, 2.4km Thailand track to the state-of-the-art, 5.5km sweeping Shanghai International Circuit, following which the series moves to Southern China for the final three rounds at Zhuhai International Circuit in October.

-credit: bmw.asia

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Daniel Ricciardo , Aaron Lim , James Grunwell , Sam Abay , Earl Bamber , Dominic Storey