USA: Laguna Seca season finale preview

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. - September 7, 2004-- The inaugural Formula BMW USA champion will be decided in Rounds 13 and 14 at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. on September 10-12th. Four drivers have taken multiple wins this season and, not ...

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. - September 7, 2004-- The inaugural Formula BMW USA champion will be decided in Rounds 13 and 14 at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. on September 10-12th.

Four drivers have taken multiple wins this season and, not surprisingly, these are the four still in the Championship battle. Andreas Wirth has three victories (R1, R2, and R9) and has had the points lead all season-long. James Hinchcliffe has made a strong run of late with wins in the last three rounds and stands second, only seven points from Wirth. With 20 points to the winner of each round it is a toss-up between Wirth and Hinchcliffe for the title. Jonathan Summerton is third with four wins (R3, R5, R7, and R8) and was the man to beat in the middle of the season. Matt Jaskol stands fourth. He has two wins (R4, R6). Summerton and Jaskol have an outside chance at the title, but both are sure to figure strongly in the outcome of the final weekend of the Championship.

Hinchcliffe has all but locked up the Rookie Championship, holding a 27-point lead over Jonathan Summerton. It will take a strong performance from Summerton and some bad luck for Hinchcliffe in order for the young Canadian not to take the title.

The fight for third will be between Tom Milner and Graham Rahal, the two only separated by seven points.

The road to the Championship has led through some of the most exciting circuits in North America. Beginning at Lime Rock Park, the series next supported the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal and United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis. Next it was the temporary airport circuit in Cleveland, followed by the classic Road America, and then the streets of Denver. Arguably, the 2004 Formula BMW USA Championship has one of the finest schedules of any racing series, anywhere.

Exciting circuits have delivered tremendously exciting racing and, with the exception of Round 12, every race leading up to Laguna Seca has included at least one pass for the lead. Many races were not decided until the very last corners.

Bobby Rahal views the Formula BMW USA Championship from a very unique vantage point. One of the most successful American racers of the modern era, he has won the Indianapolis 500 as both a driver (1986) and a team owner (2004). He is also a father of 15-year old Graham, the second youngest driver in this year's series.

"I think Formula BMW has been a great place for Graham to start his racing career because the series offers far more than just racing a car," said Rahal. "The series is also an educational experience off the track which, in this day and age, is certainly as important as what you can learn on the track. The knowledge they gain about how to represent themselves, how to speak to the press and the level of physical fitness they have to maintain are all part of the curriculum of the series. I think Formula BMW has been a great experience for each driver. They now understand what the challenges are and how to face them. And, as I have said, many of those challenges are off the track. I am very pleased with our first year. Graham finished third in Denver so he has made wonderful progress. We are looking forward to these last races."

Practice and qualifying for Round 13 will be held on Friday, September 11th. Qualifying for Round 14 will be at 9:15 a.m. Saturday and the Round 13 race is scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. The Round 14 race will start at 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, September 12th.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen adds, "Our junior talent promotion program is an intensive basic education for successful kart drivers who want to move up into Formula racing. Our priorities are to create a level playing field through technically identical vehicles and scrupulously defined regulations, and to ensure maximum safety."

The ultra-modern Formula BMW racecar, which allows 15-year-olds to enter the world of motor racing, has been lining up on the grid all around the world since the 2002 season. It sets standards above all on the safety technology front. The single- seater, powered by a 140 bhp BMW motorcycle engine producing speeds up to 140 mph, features a carbon-fiber chassis and fulfils the safety requirements of the much higher-performance Formula 3 cars.

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

<pre> Championship points after 12 of 14 races: 1. Andreas Wirth HBR Motorsport 169 2. James Hinchcliffe AIM Autosport 162 3. Jonathan Summerton HBR Motorsport 133 4. Matt Jaskol Team Autotecnica 131 5. Billy Johnson Team PTG Motorsport 77 6. Brian Frisselle PoleVision Racing 63 7. Tom Milner Team PTG Motorsport 49 8. Graham Rahal Vitesse Farm Racing 49 9. Lawson Aschenbach Team PTG Motorsport 34 10. Kyle Herder Atlantic Racing Team 24 11. Joey Hand Team PTG Motorsport 22 12. Dominik Jackson Atlantic Racing Team 20 13. Federico Montoya Atlantic Racing Team 10 14. Tom Sutherland Team PTG Motorsport 10 15. Gerardo Bonilla Jensen Motorsport 8 16. Trevor Daley Atlantic Racing Team 4 17. Robbie Montinola Jensen Motorsport 2 18. Daniel Herrington Jensen Motorsport 2 19. Alan Sciuto Team PTG Motorsport 1 20. Derek Burseth PoleVision Racing 1 21. Alexis Fenton Team Autotecnica 0 22. Mogan Spurgas Jensen Motorsport 0

Rookies: 1. James Hinchcliffe 200 2. Jonathan Summerton 173 3. Tom Milner 127 4. Graham Rahal 120 5. Tom Sutherland 89 6. Alexis Fenton 53 7. Derek Burseth 46 8. Federico Montoya 32 9. Trevor Daley 26 10. Alan Sciuto 16 11. Daniel Herrington 14


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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Graham Rahal , Joey Hand , Lawson Aschenbach , Trevor Daley , Kyle Herder , Billy Johnson , Brian Frisselle , Andreas Wirth , Daniel Herrington , Alan Sciuto , Derek Burseth , Tom Sutherland , James Hinchcliffe , Gerardo Bonilla , Mario Theissen , Jonathan Summerton , Matt Jaskol , Robbie Montinola
Teams Williams