AP: Shanghai round 12 report

Soeprapto triumphs in Shanghai after dramatic race. September 26, 2004. - Shanghai, China - If ever there was a perfect way to whet the appetites of China's F1 fans, Formula BMW Asia provided just that today in a thrilling 10-lap race.

Soeprapto triumphs in Shanghai after dramatic race.

September 26, 2004. - Shanghai, China - If ever there was a perfect way to whet the appetites of China's F1 fans, Formula BMW Asia provided just that today in a thrilling 10-lap race. Indonesian youngster Moreno Soeprapto (Team Minardi Asia) emerged victorious after teenaged racing sensation and team mate Tyson Sy (PHI), who crossed the finish line first, was penalised for jumping the start.

BMW Junior Nik Iruwan Nik Izani took the first podium finish of his career, reaping the rewards of the comprehensive Formula BMW Asia Education and Coaching programme, while 23-year-old You Kyong-Ouk (KOR/BMW Korea E-Rain) drove a storming race from 12th on the grid to take the final podium spot.

Soeprapto comes from a family with a long motorsport tradition. His elder brother has been racing for many years in Europe and Asia, while his father is the boss of Indonesia's Sentul Circuit and a former racer himself. The 21-year-old has struggled to find backing for this year, and his high- profile win in China will do much to further his career.

Izani was deservedly thrilled to finally be on the podium and make up for the bad luck which seemed to have plagued his team: "I feel as though I've saved the team this weekend, and am truly relieved to have put my recent run of ill luck behind me. Any bad memories have now completely gone!"

It was non-stop drama from start to finish, with newly-crowned champion Marchy Lee (HKG/Monarch Lubricants Redbull Meritus) was passed off the grid by Sy and Hans Lin Po-Heng (TPE/Belgravia Motorsports). In to the first corner, Sy took the lead, but Lin closed the door on the hard-charging Lee, putting both of them into a spin. It was the end of the race for Lee, who had an injured hand after his clash yesterday with the same driver, but Lin was able to continue until the final lap. He didn't take the finish line after being called in to the pits because of damage to his car.

Meanwhile, the weekend didn't get any better for Rookie Cup champion Mehdi Bennani (MOR/Team Meritus) who started from 3rd on the grid. He was running 4th when a spun put him back to 5th, but he reclaimed the position before the finish line.

Despite the damage caused to Lin's car, he was determined to work his way back up through the pack, and an epic struggle ensued between him and on- form Salman Al Khalifa (BRN/Belgravia Motorsport). The two diced it out for 6th and 7th until Lin had to pull off.

Another BMW Junior and local Shanghai resident, Han Han (CHN/Team E-Rain) came in 11th, a result he was disappointed with, he but enjoyed the experience of

racing in front of his home crowd: "I want to improve gradually - I know I must take it step by step, so I'm looking forward to the next rounds."

Soeprapto triumphs in Shanghai after dramatic race.

BMW Junior Robert Boughey (THA/Minardi Team Asia) drove well and crossed the line in 9th, but was later disqualified for failing to pit with a damaged car.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "This is an exciting second season for Formula BMW Asia. After the opening rounds of the season as a support race for the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix, the series is once again in front of the Formula 1 crowds at China's first Grand Prix. My congratulations to Moreno Soeprapto and Minardi Team Asia. The race had a lot of exciting overtaking action and the drivers were able to show all that they have learned this season. Although Marchy Lee was out of this particular race, he's still a great Formula BMW Asia champion."

The final two rounds of the Formula BMW Asia series will be held at South Korea's Taebaek Circuit on October 16 and 17.

Championship Standings:

Drivers: 1.Marchy Lee (HKG/Team Meritus) 210 points, 2. You Kyong-Ouk (KOR/BMW Korea E-Rain) 120 points, 3. Mehdi Bennani (MAR/Team Meritus) 112 points, 4. Hanss Lin Po Heng (TPE/Belgravia Motorsport) 93 points, 5. Tyson Sy (PHI/Minardi Team Asia) 90 points, 6. Dado Pena (PHI/Minardi Team Asia) 77 points, 7. Salman Al Khalifa (BRN/Belgravia Motorsport) 68 points, 8. Hamel Al Fardan (BAR/Belgravia Motorsport) 55 points, 9. Nik Iruwan Nik Izani (MAL/Team Meritus) 36 points, 10. Robert T. Boughey (THA/Minardi Team Asia) 34 points, 11. Han Han (CHN/Team E-Rain) 30 points, 12. Mohammed Al Baharna (BRN/Belgravia Motorsport) 28 points,13. Maekkasit Weraporasu (THA/Autosport with Arto) 9 points, 14. Tohru Jitsukawa (JPN/Autosport with Arto) 4 points, 15. Gaby Dela Merced (PHI/Team E Rain) 1 point.

Rookie Cup Standings:

1. Mehdi Bennani 195 points, 2. Robert T. Boughey 135 points, 3. Nik Iruwan Nik Izani 128 points, 4. Han Han 124 points, 5. Hamed Al Fardan 122 points, 6. Gaby Dela Merced 60 points.

Background
The ultra-modern Formula BMW which allows 15-year-olds to enter the world of motor racing has been lining up on the grid since the 2002 season. It sets standards above all on the safety technology front. The single-seater, driven by a 140 bhp BMW motorcycle engine that takes it up to 230 km/h, features a carbon-fibre chassis, fulfils the safety requirements of the much higher-performance Formula 3 cars, and even matches certain Formula One standards.

Formula BMW Asia, now in its second season, runs as part of the Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS) organised by Motorsport Asia Limited. This year the series is run over 14 rounds at seven venues, including Bahrain, where it was a support race to the Formula One Grand Prix, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Japan and Korea, with the second Formula One Grand Prix support race in Shanghai this weekend.

In 2004, four different Formula BMW series are being staged in Germany, the UK, Asia and the USA. Formula BMW events will be part of the Formula One support programme on five occasions around the world. All the series go hand-in-hand with a comprehensive education and coaching programme, as well as substantial financial backing for promising young talent. The most distinguished graduate of this "talent hothouse" is Ralf Schumacher. The star of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team made his racing debut in the junior class in 1992.

-bmw-

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Mehdi Bennani , Robert T. Boughey , Mario Theissen , Moreno Soeprapto , Tyson Sy , Marchy Lee , Lin Po-Heng , Han Han
Teams Williams