AP: Round 18 Shanghai race report

Colombian gives Chinese team maiden victory. Seventeen-year-old Colombian Sebastian Saavedra gave Chinese team Ao's Racing it's first ever Formula BMW Asia victory in just his second race with the series. Saavedra, who is in his...

Colombian gives Chinese team maiden victory.

Seventeen-year-old Colombian Sebastian Saavedra gave Chinese team Ao's Racing it's first ever Formula BMW Asia victory in just his second race with the series. Saavedra, who is in his second season in Formula BMW USA, fought off a spirited challenge from series leader Jazeman Jaafar (MAS/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) to take the chequered flag at the Formula 1 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

In a drama-filled 10-lap race, Thailand's Jack Lemvard (21/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) and Formula BMW Junior Kyle Mitchell (16/RSA/Eurasia Motorsport) fought to the last for the final podium place, with the Thai holding the position to the line.

Mitchell took the Rookie Cup victory and was 4th overall having staged an impressive comeback through the field after a bad start and a coming together with team mate Akhil Khushlani (18/IND) put him back down to 9th.

Jazeman's result extends his points lead in the Driver Classification to 66 points, while Zahir Ali's 8th place (20/INA/Team TARADTM) was enough to put him 2nd on the leaderboard, with James Grunwell (18/THA/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) now relegated to 3rd after he failed to finish after colliding with Formula BMW Junior and team mate Ross Jamison (17/HKG).

Jamison holds his lead at the top of the Rookie Cup classification, although his point lead from Mitchell is now reduced to 37.

Both the Driver and Rookie Cup titles are still up for grabs with four more races to go.

Saavedra was full of praise for his team: "That was really a fun race," he said. "I was hoping it would be good practice for the Formula BMW World Final but it is fantastic to win. The team did an excellent job and it's just awesome to be here representing Ao's Racing."

On a wet track, pole-sitter Jazeman got away well off the grid, but Saavedra was off like a rocket from the 3rd row of the grid, charging past Grunwell, Ali and Lemvard. He was on to the race leader from the get-go, and the battle was on. The pair were two abreast for much of the race, pulling out a gap from the chasing pack.

The Colombian found a way past the hard-charging Jazeman on lap 6, only for the Malaysian to snatch it back, but Saavedra regained the advantage on the following lap after a nail-biting run where the two were bouncing off each other. Saavedra pulled out a gap to take the flag with an impressive 6.578 second margin, also setting the fastest lap.

Behind Lemvard and Mitchell, battling it out for the remaining podium place, Sean McDonagh (18/USA/Team E-Rain) found a way past Ali to go 5th. The penultimate lap saw Mitchell get by Lemvard but he made a mistake and ran wide on the last lap. Despite a furious last-ditched attempt, the South African youngster ran out of track and had to settle for 4th.

Khushlani was forced to pit after a piece of body work came loose after a coming together with Huzair Harun Rasip (19/MAS/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus), but still managed to finish the race.

The weekend was a memorable one for all the Formula BMW Juniors as they had the chance to meet BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, as well as test driver Timo Glock. The Juniors had a question and answer session with the F1 racers in the F1 paddock, and a tour of the BMW Sauber F1 Team pit garage led by Glock and the F1 engineers.

Formula BMW Asia travels to Zhuhai in Southern China for the final four rounds of the 2007 season on November 3 and 4.

-credit: fbmw.asia

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Robert Kubica , Timo Glock , Sebastian Saavedra , Jazeman Jaafar , Zahir Ali , Ross Jamison , Kyle Mitchell , Akhil Khushlani , Sean McDonagh , James Grunwell , Huzair Harun Rasip , Jack Lemvard
Teams Sauber