NA: Laguna Seca rounds 1, 2 preview

Formula BMW Americas will begin the race for the 2008 Championship with Rounds 1 & 2 at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway at this weekend's Monterey Festival of Speed. Nine drivers completed the most recent test on May 8 - 9 at Thunderhill Raceway Park,...

Formula BMW Americas will begin the race for the 2008 Championship with Rounds 1 & 2 at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway at this weekend's Monterey Festival of Speed.

Nine drivers completed the most recent test on May 8 - 9 at Thunderhill Raceway Park, in Willows, Calif., with 16-year old Californian Alexander Rossi topping the time sheets. Rossi, with three wins, finished third overall in the 2007 Formula BMW USA Championship. Driving for the 2006 and 2007 Formula BMW USA Team Champion Eurointernational this season, Rossi was the quickest at both Virginia International Raceway, in Alton, Vir., and Miller Motorsports Park, in Tooele, Utah, in April.

Eurointernational teammate Ricardo Favoretto, 19, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, has been only tenths-of-a-second behind Rossi and the two are clearly favorites for the title. Runner-up in the 2007 Formula BMW USA Rookie chase, Favoretto has earned a BMW Junior scholarship for this season and has his eyes on moving up the podium from a career-best third place finish in Round 10 last year.

This season's Rookie class includes the other three BMW Junior drivers, Brazilian Alexandre Ruiz (Apex-HBR Racing Team), 16, and Canadians Mikael Grenier (Apex- HBR Racing Team), 15, and Gianmarco Raimondo (Autotecnica), 17. Canadian David Ostella (Eurointernational), 16; Giancarlo Vilarinho (Eurointernational), 16, of Brazil; and Velibor Jovanovic (Jensen Motorsport), 17, of Serbia, round out this year's Rookie hopefuls.

Completing the field is returning driver Maxime Pelletier (Apex-HBR Racing Team), 17 of Canada and Jorge Goncalvez (Apex-HBR Racing Team), 16, of Venezuela.

Formula BMW has visited Laguna Seca twice before. The inaugural 2004 season ended there with Andreas Wirth becoming the first Formula BMW USA Champion. In 2005, Richard Philippe, who ultimately became that year's Overall and Rookie Champion, showed his strength with both poles and one win in Rounds 1 and 2.

-credit: bmw

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Andreas Wirth , Richard Philippe , Maxime Pelletier , Alexander Rossi , Ricardo Favoretto , Giancarlo Vilarinho , Alexandre Ruiz , Velibor Jovanovic , David Ostella , Mikael Grenier , Gianmarco Raimondo , Jorge Goncalvez