AP: Rounds 21, 22 Zhuhai race report

Ali wins Driver Classification, while Mitchell takes Rookie Cup. Indonesian Zahir Ali (20/Team TARADTM) clinched the Driver Classification today in the final round of the 2007 Formula BMW Asia series, while South African Formula BMW Junior Kyle...

Ali wins Driver Classification, while Mitchell takes Rookie Cup.

Indonesian Zahir Ali (20/Team TARADTM) clinched the Driver Classification today in the final round of the 2007 Formula BMW Asia series, while South African Formula BMW Junior Kyle Mitchell (16/Eurasia Motorsport) won the Rookie Cup title after a superb final showdown with fellow Junior Hong Kong's Ross Jamison (17/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus).

After Round 22, and following receipt of a post-race scrutineering report, Race Stewards issued a Decision to exclude the cars of Jazeman Jaafar (MAS/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) and Jack Lemvard (THA/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus) for a technical infringement of the regulations. In view of the severity of the offence and the fact that the same team had contravened the Technical Regulations on an earlier occasion during the season, the Decision also included the exclusion of CIMB Team Qi-Meritus from the Formula BMW Asia Series 2007.

The Decision put Malaysian teenager Jazeman 2nd in the Driver Classification at the end of the season, just one point behind Ali. James Grunwell (18/THA/CIMB Team Qi-Meritus), like Ali completing his second Formula BMW Asia season, finished 3rd in the Driver Classification, with Rookie Cup winner Mitchell 4th.

Ali gave new Team TARADTM an excellent result in its debut season, his second, despite facing challenges at the start of the year: "At one point this season we were about 100 points behind, but by the end we were right in the championship picture and our pace was there." Ali himself is looking towards making a move to Formula 3 for next season.

Jamison missed the title by just seven points having topped the leaderboard for most of the season. The series' first driver from the USA, Sean McDonagh (18/Team E-Rain) was 3rd.

Eurasia Motorsport, who fielded newly-crowned Rookie Cup winner Mitchell and fellow Formula BMW Asia Junior Akhil Khushlani (IND/18/Eurasia Motorsport) won the Team Classification by 19 points from Team Holzer PFX.

Changes to the results of Round 19, run yesterday, saw Mitchell and Ali handed 30 second time penalties for overtaking under a yellow flag, so the pair had their work cut out for today's final two rounds of the 2007 season.

Jazeman scored a superb victory from 8th on the grid in the penultimate round of the season with a comfortable margin of almost 6 seconds from Colombian Sebastian Saavedra (17/Ao's Racing). That gave the Malaysian a 43 point lead from Ali, and put the title so close he could taste it. Mitchell crossed the line in 3rd, seizing the lead of the Rookie Cup title chase from Jamison in the process.

In the final race, Jazeman once again showed his undoubted talent by crossing the line first, followed by Jack Lemvard (CIMB/Team Qi-Meritus) and Ali. Mitchell finished ahead of Jamison, thereby clinching the Rookie Cup title.

Round 21 saw Grunwell get away well from pole, with Mitchell getting by Ali on Lap 2, but it was Jazeman who was on a charge from the fourth row of the grid. The Malaysian was up to 2nd by the end of lap 4, making his move on Grunwell to grab the lead just three laps later. So delighted was the youngster, particularly after two miserable outings the previous day, that he was punching the air even before crossing the line. Saavedra, winner of both rounds yesterday, crossed the line 2nd having started from the third row of the grid, ahead of Mitchell who brilliantly kept his Rookie Cup aspirations alive after the disappointment of his time penalty in Round 19. The South African did well to keep his head when, in the closing stages he came under attack from first Saavedra and then the hard-charging Ali.

Said Mitchell, who displayed maturity beyond his years to keep himself in the Rookie Cup running while coming under intense pressure: "I needed the points for the Rookie Cup. Sebastian was right on my tail and I couldn't fight him off as I didn't have the brakes. I didn't want to crash because I knew I needed the points."

In Round 22 Jazeman started from pole and didn't put a wheel wrong throughout what was to prove a dramatic final race. However Lemvard and Mitchell got by Saavedra at the start going in to 2nd and 3rd behind the Malaysian. Formula BMW Junior David Zhu collided with Grunwell, and the Thai crashed out, bringing out the red flag.

Saavedra pulled into the pits after the red flag, and restarted from pit lane when the race resumed behind the Safety Car. As the Safety Car pulled off, Jazeman and Lemvard fought it out with the Thai briefing grabbing the lead. Mitchell got up to 2nd briefly, but ran wide allowing Lemvard and Ali by.

Jamison was on the hunt for the Rookie Cup title, and had climbed through the field and was on Mitchell's tail by lap 7. The pair were stuck together like glue, with Jamison making two final brave attempts to get by his adversary, both of which were ultimately unsuccessful.

Next up for the newly-crowned Formula BMW Asia champion Ali, along with runner-up Jazeman and series newcomer Lemvard, will be the Formula BMW World Final in Valencia on 24th and 25th November 2007. Thirty five drivers from 19 nations will battle it out at the "Circuit de la Comunitat Ricardo Tormo" for a chance to take a test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team. All four international Formula BMW series, in which points and victories were fiercely contested in 2007, are sending their best drivers to Spain.

With Mitchell and Jamison proving the power of the Formula BMW Scholarship programme with their tremendous performances this season, evaluations to find the next crop of Formula BMW Asia Juniors, each of whom will be awarded a 50,000 Euro (approximately 70,000 USD) cash contribution to their season and a full year in the unrivalled E&C Programme free of charge, will be held between December 13 and 16 at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit.

-credit: asia/bmw.com

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Sebastian Saavedra , Zahir Ali , Ross Jamison , Kyle Mitchell , Akhil Khushlani , Sean McDonagh , James Grunwell , David Zhu , Jack Lemvard
Teams Sauber