Woodcliff Lake, NJ - July 24, 2006-- Formula BMW USA will race in support of the Champ Car World Series for the first time this season when the fight for the championship will be taken to the streets at the San Jose Grand Prix on July 28-30 for ...
Woodcliff Lake, NJ - July 24, 2006-- Formula BMW USA will race in support of the Champ Car World Series for the first time this season when the fight for the championship will be taken to the streets at the San Jose Grand Prix on July 28-30 for Rounds 9 and 10. The only Formula BMW USA races to be held in California this year will be held on the 1.448-mile, 11-turn, temporary circuit through streets and parking lots around San Jose's Convention Center.
In the previous eight Rounds at Mid-Ohio and Lime Rock Park in May and the four races supporting the Canadian and United States Grands Prix, five drivers have found the checkered flag this season. Stefano Coletti (EuroInternational) has three wins; Robert Wickens (EuroInternational) two; and Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA), Daniel Morad (AIM Autosport) and Matt Lee (Autotecnica) have one win. San Jose, with its new set of challenges, may reward a sixth or even seventh winner. For one of the 25 drivers entered, Maxime Pelletier (Gelles Racing), driving on the road will be something completely new as he is not yet old enough to hold a road license.
Only 19 points separate the top-four in the championship battle. The top-four have put a bit of distance between themselves and the rest of the field, but with six Rounds remaining and 20 points awarded to the winner of each Round the chase for the Formula BMW USA championship title is anything but decided.
How competitive points leader Wickens will be in San Jose remains to be seen. The Formula BMW USA Junior driver will race for the rest of the season with EuroInternational in the car that took Coletti to his three victories. New teammate Simona De Silvestro stands fourth in points. Wickens said, "I can't wait for Rounds 9 and 10 in San Jose. I have always done well on street circuits in karting and last year on the Denver street circuit I got my second win in Formula BMW USA. I am extremely happy to lead the championship standings. All I want to do now is gather as many points as possible to manage my points lead."
Coletti, second in points, returned to the Formula BMW Germany championship after the four Rounds in support of the Formula One races in Montreal and Indianapolis. Lee, who has scored the most pole positions this season (3) to-date stands third. De Silvestro, in fourth, with two podium finishes at the United States Grand Prix, became the first woman ever on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway podium.
Lee commented, "San Jose will be all-new for everybody. That doesn't bother me, because I think I learn new tracks pretty quickly and I have a great team in Autotecnica. I also love street courses, so I'm looking forward to it. My goal for San Jose is simple: win two poles and two races. It will be hard, but both I and the whole Autotecnica team will be trying our best."
De Silvestro added, "For me, San Jose will be a new driving experience because it will be my first time on a street course. I hope I will be able to be in the front. I will try to bring home as many points as possible and win races. I keep pushing to win the championship!"
Although he has not yet reached the step on the podium, Sebastian Saavedra (Gelles Racing) leads the Rookie points through six top-ten finishes. He was the top- finishing Rookie in four Rounds. Pelletier and Morad stand second and third respectively in Rookie points.
The promising Formula BMW USA talents can expect serious competition with returning driver Tom Sutherland (Jensen Motorsport) who will re-join the series for the San Jose races. Coming from Los Gatos, the youngster can not only look back on 30 starts and finishes with Formula BMW USA, but also can count on the support of his friends and family. "It will be interesting to see how I do in my home city and on a track that none of the Formula BMW drivers have seen before. After the Indianapolis F1 race weekend I now have started and finished 30 Formula BMW races and I am anxious to make it 32 in San Jose," Sutherland stated. "After racing all over the country, even in Canada, a hometown race event will be quite refreshing. Lots of my friends and family, as well as many potential sponsors, will be there watching."
Stevens, from Palo Alto, who stands sixth in the Championship points can rely on his home field advantage as well. Formula BMW USA driver Jules Duc (Hearn Motorsports) is from the Silicon Valley area.
17 Formula BMW USA drivers recently completed two test days at Miller Motorsports Park, in Tooele, Utah. Lee led the time sheets during the official testing followed by Stevens and De Silvestro. Wickens and Race Johnson (HBR Motorsport Team USA) rounded out the top-five. All were within three-tenths of a second. The close competition promises great race action and fierce battles on the streets of San Jose.
Stevens said, "We were able to solve the mechanical failures of Indianapolis at the test and after finishing in second position - five-hundredths off of P1 - I'm feeling very confident going into the San Jose GP. I've been very competitive on street Valley friends and family as well as my technology sponsors. I feel completely prepared to dominate my home race in the #10 Wind River BMW."
Lee added, "The two test days at Miller Motorsports Park let me shake off the rust after Indianapolis and the team worked on set-ups to prepare for the upcoming races and the heat. The Formula BMW USA series has more drivers than any of the other Formula BMW divisions, and the competition is really stiff. We just need to continue to do what we've been doing and keep on trying our best. We have six races to go and a lot can still happen. Hopefully what happens for us will be great!"
Practice will be held on Friday, July 28 at 8:00 a.m., followed by Round 9 qualifying at 4:45 p.m. Round 10 qualifying will be held at 8:00 a.m. Saturday with the Round 9 race is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. After a 15 minute warm-up at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, the Round 10 race is scheduled to start at 3:50 p.m.