AP: Sam Abay Zhuhai race notes

Abay finishes 2nd in debut Formula BMW season. Statistics for the season: - Six pole positions - Fifteen podium finishes - Five wins - Five 2nd places - Five 3rd places In just his debut season Australian teenager Sam Abay has finished...

Abay finishes 2nd in debut Formula BMW season.

Statistics for the season:
- Six pole positions
- Fifteen podium finishes
- Five wins
- Five 2nd places
- Five 3rd places

In just his debut season Australian teenager Sam Abay has finished a close second in the 2006 Formula BMW Asia Championship. The driver of the SAI Private Team E-Rain entry underlined his enormous potential, extending a commanding points lead early in the season and went into the final event of the season with a 16 point lead. In the end the youngster endured the most difficult of weekends at the Zhuhai circuit in Southern China ultimately losing his grip on the title.

"It's obviously hugely disappointing to lose the title at the final event, but looking at the year as a whole I'm really pleased with our progress. The goal in my debut Formula BMW season was always to gain as much experience as I could and to develop as a racing driver. With the fantastic team I had behind me, there's no doubt we managed to achieve that and the year has been absolutely invaluable. I really feel that the experiences I've had this year have not only helped me develop as a racing driver but also as a person and I'm exited about the next phase of my career. Ending up second this season just makes me more hungry than ever."

For Abay, who had only been off the podium once this year, the Zhuhai event was an obvious low point: "It's fair to say this weekend has been nothing short of under-whelming. We were off the ultimate pace when we first hit the track and we were at a complete loss to figure out why. Try as we might, we couldn't find the answer. It's frustrating, but it just wasn't our weekend. I'll just have to file this one under character building.

Abay managed to place his car 4th on the grid for Saturday afternoon's race, but was unable to make the progress he was hoping for when the lights went green.

"I didn't get the best start and I was caught in the traffic. I put the car in a place which it shouldn't have been, and that's why I made a mistake at the second last turn on the opening lap. I ran wide and went on the grass. I caught up to James (Grunwell) and Dominic (Storey) then passed Dominic and got back up to 4th. I was trying to catch James but made a mistake under braking, so I couldn't close the gap."

Despite the disappointment, Abay provided one of the most amazing drives in the final race of the weekend. The Australian was struck from behind at the first corner by Brit James Grunwell whose car attached itself to the rear of the E-Rain machine. Fiercely shaking his car from side to side Abay freed himself after towing Grunwell for 70 metres. The impact destroyed Abay's rear wing and the back of his car, but the fiercely determined youngster sought to prove that the seemingly undriveable machine could still be driven, and dramatically sought about chasing down the field. "Never say die! What's the point of stopping if the car's still going?" The Australian then stunned onlookers hauling the severely damaged car through the field and, in doing so, executed one of the overtaking manoeuvres of the season, diving passed both Aaron Lim & Zahir Ali in a single move, eventually claiming a quite unbelievable 4th place with his battered machine.

"2006 has been an incredible year. My whole hearted thanks go to my partners, SAI Private, my personal backers, and my supply partners Fitness HQ, Marshall & Dent Lawyers, duttondirect.com, Henry Birman Design and Kral's Creations. I'm truly grateful for their tremendous support which has made this possible."

"Of my team, E-Rain, I simply can't say enough. Great team work is what it's all about and the effort and passion that E-Rain work with is second to none. I've had a huge learning curve to go through this year and E-Rain have truly been amazing."

"My sincere thanks also go to the team at the Asian Festival of Speed and Formula BMW Asia."

-credit: sam

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Aaron Lim , Zahir Ali , James Grunwell , Sam Abay