Al Khalifa back on winning form. Oita, Japan - Bahrain's Salman Al Khalifa (Team E-Rain) was back on winning form today taking victory in Round 11 of Formula BMW Asia as Typhoon Nabi closed in on Japan's Autopolis Circuit. Second was...
Al Khalifa back on winning form.
Oita, Japan - Bahrain's Salman Al Khalifa (Team E-Rain) was back on winning form today taking victory in Round 11 of Formula BMW Asia as Typhoon Nabi closed in on Japan's Autopolis Circuit. Second was pole sitter and BMW Junior Michael Patrizi (AUS/Team Meritus), who lost out to a win after just one mistake in difficult track conditions. Third across the line was Rookie Cup leader, Charlie-Ro Charlez (MAS/Team Meritus) after a memorable duel with BMW Junior Robert Boughey (THA/Team Meritus).
In the Driver Classification, Al Khalifa's win puts him 17 points clear of new second-placed man Charlez, who overtakes Al Fardan in the standings with a three point lead. Patrizi remains fourth on the leaderboard in front of Armaan Ebrahim (IND/Team E-Rain) and Robert Boughey (THA/Team Meritus). However, any one of the top six can still take the 2005 Formula BMW Asia title as the competition reaches boiling point.
In the Rookie Cup, Charlez' lead over Patrizi is reduced to just 11 points, with Ebrahim in third.
Said Khalifa, who led for the majority of the 10-lap race although Patrizi's pace was arguably quicker: "It's nice to be back (on top of the podium). My inexperience in the rain showed today. Michael got by me and it was good, clean racing. It was his race really, but he made a mistake on the last corner which gave it back to me."
Although Patrizi, 21, held his position off the grid from the hard-charging Bahraini, Al Khalifa had grabbed the lead by the end of lap one. Ebrahim got a bad start, and Al Fardan and Charlez had an early coming together which put the latter back down the field with a damaged car.
Although Al Fardan was able to continue, he was later involved in an incident with Ebrahim which ended both their races.
Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Patrizi was closing the gap to Al Khalifa and began seriously pressuring him into making an error. The Rookie studied his opponent's racing line for several laps, watching to see where his chance might come, and was ready to grab the opportunity with both hands as soon as Al Khalifa did make a mistake. However, his lead was short-lived as Al Khalifa was just as quick on the uptake when Patrizi also put a wheel wrong on the final lap. Dramatically though, the Australian made a final bid for victory in the closing metres of the race, and the gap between the pair at the chequered flag was just 0.224 of a second.
Boughey had Charlez right in his sights for much of the race and tried just about everything to win the final podium place. For Boughey, 22, a good showing in Japan is all the more important as his mother hails from the country, making this weekend his second "home race" of the season after Thailand. Although thwarted this time around, he'll be back on the charge for the second race of the afternoon, typhoon willing.