Bamber bounces back. Pattaya, Thailand -- Earl Bamber (NZL/Team Meritus) was back on top in Round 14, winning the 20-lap race in convincing style and putting himself back in the lead in the Rookie Cup standings in the process. Having turned...
Bamber bounces back.
Pattaya, Thailand -- Earl Bamber (NZL/Team Meritus) was back on top in Round 14, winning the 20-lap race in convincing style and putting himself back in the lead in the Rookie Cup standings in the process. Having turned his luck around in the previous race, BMW Junior Aaron Lim (MAS/Eurasia Motorsport) notched up his second podium in as many races, while fellow Junior and team mate, 16-year-old Dominic Storey (NZL) also recorded his second podium finish so far this season.
Sam Abay (AUS/Team E-Rain) retains the top spot in the Driver Classification, but his margin has been whittled away to just 14 points over Bamber, with BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport) in third. Bamber leads Ricciardo by 19 points in the Rookie Cup, with Thailand's James Grunwell (Team Meritus) in third, six points behind his fellow Junior.
Winner of the previous two rounds and pole-sitter for Round 14, Ricciardo faired less well this time out, spinning after Bamber had managed to get by early in the race. He re-joined the race further down the field, but his efforts to regain his position ended in the barriers. Championship leader, Abay, was running third when he was handed a stop/start penalty for being over the line on his grid position. Abay eventually finished 8th, but had the consolation of setting the fastest lap of the race and keep the top spot in the title chase.
Zahir Ali (INA/Eurasia Motorsport) just missed out on a podium in 4th, while local hero Grunwell crossed the line in 6th, behind Mohamed Al Baharna (BRN/Team E-Rain), after a disappointing weekend at his home track.
Off the start, Ricciardo got away well initially, with Bamber, Abay, Lim and Storey in hot pursuit, but it was not to last long. Ricciardo's spin allowed Storey then Lim by, but the Kiwi made an error which gave the Malaysian his chance to go 2nd. At the front, Bamber pulled away to build a 3.6 second gap by the flag, while Lim and Storey decided against risking lost points in the closing stages by pushing too hard on what was a treacherously slippery track.
Said Bamber: "There was a lot of oil on the track, especially at turn one, and it was hard to see exactly where it was because of the dust. That was a hairy moment! Daniel made a mistake in front of me and I capitalised on that, but it was very close. The track was extremely greasy for the whole race, so it was difficult to find how hard to push and where."
All the drivers acquitted themselves well in tricky conditions on what is a challenging circuit at the best of times. The Thai crowed were treated to a weekend of good, clean, exciting racing, with the Formula BMW Asia field on top form.
Having watched the action from the grandstands this weekend, ten lucky Thai karters, aged between 15 and 19, have been selected for the Formula BMW Experience tomorrow (Monday). As they prepare to take the step up to single seater racing, they will be given their first taste of Formula BMW Asia - and even have the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the car.
The 2006 Formula BMW Asia season continues next month with Rounds 15 and 16 held as Official support races to the Formula 1^Ù Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai from September 30 to October 1, before the series moves to Southern China for the final three rounds at Zhuhai International Circuit on October 21-22.