Faultless win for Al Fardan in Shanghai.
Shanghai, China - Hamed Al Fardan (BAH/Team Meritus) scored a perfect victory today in Round 13 of Formula BMW Asia at the Formula 1 Grand Prix of China in Shanghai. The 18-year-old led from pole to chequered flag, opening up a massive 4.7 second lead over second-placed man and Rookie Charlie-Ro Charlez (MAS/Team Meritus) by the chequered flag. Third across the line, after one of the most eventful races of the year, was Indian sensation and BMW Junior Armaan Ebrahim (Team E-Rain).
The results mean Salman Al Khalifa (BAH/Team E-Rain) retains his place at the top of the Driver Classification leaderboard with 164, but Al Fardan is still in contention for the title on 146, with 20 points up for grabs tomorrow. In the Rookie Cup standings, just a single point separates table leader Patrizi and Charlez.
Al Fardan got away clean at the start and was never challenged throughout the 10-lap race. Behind him and starting from 5th on the grid, Charlez was on a charge passing Ebrahim and Patrizi to go into 2nd by the second corner. Meanwhile, championship leader going in to Round 13, Al Khalifa was already up to 5th place behind Ebrahim having started from 7th on the grid.
As Al Fardan increased the gap to the rest of the field, the fight was on for the remaining podium places and those all-important championship points. The four diced for position throughout the race producing some of the most nail-biting action of the series so far. Disaster almost struck for Al Khalifa in the closing stages when, two abreast with Patrizi, he ran wide on to the grass, but managed to recover superbly to take 5th. "I could almost hear the cries of "bring it home", so I was determined not to lose it," said Al Khalifa.
Fellow Bahraini Al Fardan did well to hold his concentration out in front: "The first couple of laps were a bit close, but after that I just kept my head down and concentrated on keeping my laps times consistent," he said. Ebrahim, who set the fastest lap of the race, has had to reacquaint himself with the car after this Team India A1GP duties, and was slightly disappointed at his result, but will have his chance to shine when he starts from pole in Round 14.
In China, the number eight is known as particularly lucky, but the performance of Car number 88, Charlez, was far more to do with a skilled combination of calculation and courage: "I made a few mistakes, but I just cooled down and went for it again. I have no problem looking where I can go and really going for it, although I need to be more consistent in qualifying."
The 2005 Formula BMW Asia Driver and Rookie titles will go all the way down to the wire decided, no doubt in typically dramatic style, over 10-laps of the state-of-the-art Shanghai International Circuit tomorrow (Sunday).