AP: Zhuhai round 17 qualifying notes

Jubilant Ricciardo takes final pole of 2006 season. Zhuhai, China -- Formula BMW Asia Junior Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport) was unable to contain his excitement after setting the quickest lap in the final qualifying session of the...

Jubilant Ricciardo takes final pole of 2006 season.

Zhuhai, China -- Formula BMW Asia Junior Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport) was unable to contain his excitement after setting the quickest lap in the final qualifying session of the 2006 season. The 17-year-old is in contention to take the Drivers' title this weekend, and his pole position represents a tremendous boost to his confidence.

Lining up alongside Ricciardo this afternoon for Round 17 of the series will be Earl Bamber (NZL/Team Meritus), currently second in the Driver Classification and Rookie Cup points leader, while another Junior and fellow Kiwi Dominic Storey (17/Eurasia Motorsport) continued to show his improving form with the third fastest time.

Points leader going in to the last three rounds of the season this weekend, Sam Abay (AUS/Team E-Rain) had a miserable session. The 19-year-old is feeling the pressure and only managed 4th on the grid.

Abay topped the times at the start of the 30-minute session, but soon dropped down the sheets as the duel between Bamber and Ricciardo began. The pair were the only drivers to lap in less than 1 minute 42 seconds, with just 0.287 seconds between their best times at the flag.

Said Ricciardo, taking his first pole position as a result of a qualifying session and the 2nd of his Formula BMW Asia career: "Taking pole was the first priority for this weekend. If I'd had a win without topping the qualifying times this season I would have felt I'd underachieved. I'm looking for a clean sweep of three wins this weekend to make up for Thailand (where his two victories were followed by a DNF). I've put that behind me, but have to admit it's still in the back of my mind. I know this is an overtaking circuit, but hopefully I can pull out a gap and try to demoralise the rest of the field. The car's pretty good, but as a driver you always want more, so we'll be trying to find that."

Bamber, who had topped the time sheets for much of the session, was pipped to the post by Ricciardo in the dying seconds: "I'm not ashamed to have lost pole on the last lap of the session! It's a nice track. It's simple, so it's going to be a tough race, as it was in Sentul (Indonesia). Qualifying is different from an actual race. I know it'll be tough, but I'm looking forward to it."

Ricciardo's fellow Junior Storey was also upbeat about his chances: "I've improved this weekend already quite a bit. Yesterday and on Thursday I was struggling, but it all came together today in qualifying. I went over the data a lot last night and it's made a real difference."

Round 17 of Formula BMW Asia will be held this afternoon, with the final two rounds, tomorrow (Sunday), over 12 laps each of the 4.3km Zhuhai International Circuit in Southern China.

-credit: bmw.asia

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