AP: Bira race one notes

BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo scores maiden victory. Pattaya, Thailand -- BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport) scored his maiden Formula BMW Asia win today, displaying maturity beyond his 17 years in holding off intense pressure...

BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo scores maiden victory.

Pattaya, Thailand -- BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport) scored his maiden Formula BMW Asia win today, displaying maturity beyond his 17 years in holding off intense pressure from hard-charging pole man Earl Bamber (NZL/Team Meritus) throughout the 20 laps race. Not only was the win a first for Ricciardo, but also for a BMW Junior driver and for his Eurasia Motorsport this season. Rookie Bamber crossed the line in second place, having lost the lead to Ricciardo on the opening lap after the latter made a lightning start off the grid. Third was championship leader Sam Abay (AUS/Team E-Rain), who had been unable to catch the battling pair ahead of him.

As he had intended, Bamber has reduced the points gap to Abay at the top of the Driver Classification to just 29, but Ricciardo leapfrogs James Grunwell (THA/Team Meritus) into 3rd on 141 points and, with seven rounds still to go, the title remains wide open.

In the Rookie Cup, Ricciardo's win puts him second behind Bamber, but with a gap of only four points, while Grunwell moves down to 3rd, ten points adrift of Ricciardo.

It was a good day for the BMW Juniors, with Dominic Storey (NZL/Eurasia Motorsport) and team mate Aaron Lim (MAS) trading their grid positions to finish 3rd and 4th respectively. The pair are now neck-and-neck in the Driver Classification on 76 points apiece. Said Storey: "I was catching Sam (Abay) for a while, and it was a really great race. I had a good tussle with Aaron as well."

Local hero Grunwell finished 8th after a tangle with Meritus team mate Hafiz bin Helmi (SIN) left him with a damaged car. He soldiered on, however, and managed to cross the line ahead of Indonesia's Zahir Ali (Eurasia Motorsport).

Series newcomer, Mohamed Hanif Nazeer (IND/Ao's Racing) finished 10th in his maiden Formula BMW Asia outing. The 17-year-old started karting in 2003, and has since had a couple of single seater outings in the UK. He took part in the Formula BMW Scholarship trials in 2005, and intends to compete for the rest of the season. Joining Nazeer was jointed by team principal Ao Chi Hong, and the pair marked the welcome return of Ao's Racing to the series.

Off the start it was Riccardo who stole the march on Bamber, but the latter did everything he could to rattle the Junior. Ricciardo held firm, however, and in the closing laps of the race skilfully negotiated his way through the backmarkers to put some space between him and Bamber. He finished with a margin of just under a second, enough to let him take a breath in the closing stages. "Eventually I turned my mirrors down and just focussed on doing my job," said Ricciardo.

Abay, who has not been off the podium once this season, admitted he was not a fan of the 2.4km Bira Circuit, describing the notorious chicanes as more like "obstacles" and saying: "Hats off to these guys (Ricciardo and Bamber), but I realise I have to pull my finger out and get to it!"

Rounds 13 and 14 of Formula BMW Asia will be held tomorrow.

-credit: bmw.asia

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Ao Chi Hong , Daniel Ricciardo , Aaron Lim , Zahir Ali , Sam Abay , Earl Bamber , Dominic Storey