AP: Malaysia round 3 race notes

Bahrain wins big in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - It was a proud day for Bahraini motorsport as Formula BMW Asia championship leader, Salman Rashid Al Khalifa (Team E- Rain) and Hamed Al Fardan (Team Meritus) took 1st and 2nd places in...

Bahrain wins big in Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - It was a proud day for Bahraini motorsport as Formula BMW Asia championship leader, Salman Rashid Al Khalifa (Team E- Rain) and Hamed Al Fardan (Team Meritus) took 1st and 2nd places in Round 3 of the series at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Rookie Charlie-Ro Charlez (Team Meritus) flew the flag for Malaysia, taking the final podium place and setting the fastest lap, the 19-year-old notching up his second top three finish this season.

The win strengthens Al Khalifa's hold on the championship leaderboard with 55 points, having won the opening round at his home event last month, while today saw Al Fardan's first podium of the 2005 season which puts him in 5th with 26 points. Charlez' second podium means he is currently an impressive 2nd in the championship standings on 37 points, moving ahead of Robert Boughey (THA/Terms Meritus).

Al Khalifa was delighted with his win which saw him drive a flawless race from pole to chequered flag, despite pressure from his countryman: "I made a few mistakes, but I've realised a lot of it is down to fitness which I must concentrate on. I'm so glad it was a 1-2 for Bahrain and I can't ask for a better result for my country." Al Khalifa was also full of praise for his Team E-Rain who had worked long into the night to ensure he had all the tools for victory.

Al Fardan was equally pleased to be on the podium, despite being unable ultimately to catch Al Khalifa: "I made a very good start," he said, referring to his lightning-quick getaway off the grid which saw him move from 4th to 2nd. "I tried to catch him (Al Khalifa) right from the first lap, but he kept pushing harder and didn't make any mistakes."

Charlez and BMW Junior Boughey had battle for much of the way, swapping positions in the fight for the final podium place. Said Charlez: "It was good racing. I made a couple of mistakes and a couple of good moves."

Off the grid, Al Khalifa got away well, with Al Fardan manoeuvring into second, with Boughey in third. Sri Lankan Rookie Dejan de Zoysa (Minardi Team Asia) was an early casualty, going off on the opening lap, while BMW Junior and Rookie An Suk Won (KOR/Team E-Rain) had a big off when he went wide on lap two. Mid-way through the 20-lap race, Charlez caught Boughey and made his move at the first corner, taking third. Charlez made an error a lap later, and Boughey was quick to seize the initiative but then ran wide at the entry to the last turn, crashing out of the race.

Second Rookie finisher was Ebrahim, fourth overall behind Charlez, followed by Lim, a superb result in his first ever race. Charlez increased his lead in the Rookie Cup with 55 points, followed by Ebrahim on 47 and An on 30.

<pre> Round 3 Results.

POS NO   Driver/Nat                     Entrant        Time     Gap
1    7   Salman Rashid AL KHALIFA (BAH) Team E-Rain    22:50.082
2   38   Hamed AL FARDAN (BAH)          Team Meritus            +01:090
3   88   Charlie-Ro CHARLEZ + (MAS)     Team Meritus            +03.275
4   17  *Armaan EBRAHIM (IND)           Team E-Rain             +08.012
5    2   Aaron LIM + (MAS)              Minardi Team Asia       +05.132
6    9  *WANG Jian-Wei + (CHN)          Ao's Racing Team        +14.445
7   61  *AN Suk-Won + (KOR)             Team E-Rain             +00.796
8   99  #SONG Ge (CHN)                  Ao's Racing Team        +03.630
9   22   Jonathan CHAN (HKG)            Minardi Team Asia       +03.468
10  58   Mitsunobu ENDO (JPN)           Team Meritus            +22.036
11  68  *Robert BOUGHEY (THA)           Team Meritus            5 laps
DNF 29  *Michael Tony PATRIZI + (AUS)   Team Meritus
DNF  4   Dejan de ZOYSA + (SRI)         Minardi Team Asia
DNS 20  #CHIA On (HKG)                  Ao's Racing Team

*Scholarship driver +Rookie Cup # Non-Series Registered

Fastest Lap:    Charlie-Ro Charlez      01:07.552       143.89kph
Pole Position:  Salman Al Khalifa       01:07.764       143.44kph

-pprplus-

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Series Formula BMW