Al Khalifa crowned Formula BMW Asia Champion in Shanghai.
Shanghai, China - Bahrain's Salman Al Khalifa (Team E-Rain) clinched the 2005 Formula BMW Asia Driver Championship after a season which saw him take six wins and seven pole positions. The 24-year-old needed just two points going in to the final round and his 5th place finish in the 10-lap race was enough to clinch the title.
First across the line in the eventful race was BMW Junior Michael Patrizi (AUS/Team Meritus), who clinched the Rookie Cup title in the process, while fellow Junior and pole-sitter Armaan Ebrahim (IND/Team E-Rain) was second, with Aaron Lim (MAS/Minardi Team Asia) taking the final podium position.
Al Khalifa finished the season on 172 points, 15 ahead of Patrizi, while Hamed Al Fardan's (BAH/Team Meritus) ill-luck in the final round meant he finished 3rd on the leaderboard with 148. In the Rookie Cup, Patrizi's win today put him 13 points clear of nearest challenger Charlie-Ro Charlez (MAS/Team Meritus), while Ebrahim was 3rd.
In the race, winner of Round 13, Al Fardan got a blinding start off the grid from 3rd to take the lead, with Patrizi going in to second, and from then on the pair embarked in a furious chase, coming together at one point with both sustaining damage. Behind them, Ebrahim was in a battle of his own with Charlie-Ro Charlez (MAS/Team Meritus), while Al Khalifa was fighting his instinct to move through the field, and stayed back in 7th - and out of trouble.
After Charlez dropped back to 6th, Ebrahim concentrated on closing in on the leaders, but wasn't able to challenge by the chequered flag. However, in keeping with a season which has been high on drama throughout, the final lap saw Al Fardan's chances dashed by a puncture which put him down to 9th place. Patrizi then went through to take the win followed home by Ebrahim and Lim.
All the Formula BMW Asia Drivers acquitted themselves well in front of the Formula 1 fraternity, producing exciting - yet mature - racing which was a credit to Asian motorsport.
Al Khalifa had fought his instincts superbly, and was relieved and delighted to have clinched the title he has been working towards all year: "There's a time you have to be smart and not greedy (for wins). It's a very difficult thing to do, but I just brought myself down and am glad it all worked out. It was a very advanced field this year and we were very equal, which is why the championship went down to the wire. I'm grateful to all the other drivers for being so hungry, which really kept me on top."
After two seasons in Formula BMW Asia, Al Khalifa is looking to take the next step in his motorsport career with a move next season to either the British or Euroseries Formula 3 championships.
BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen: "It was an exciting 2005 Formula BMW Asia season. Congratulations to the champion, Salman Al Khalifa. I am looking forward to seeing him at the Formula BMW World Final in Bahrain in December!"
In the Team Classification, it was Team Meritus who once again triumphed with 414 points, while Al Khalifa's Team E-Rain was runner up on 339.
Formula BMW Asia Final Points Standings.
1.Salman Al Khalifa (BAH/Team E-Rain) 172 points, 2. Michael Patrizi (AUS/Team Meritus) 157 points, 3. Hamed Al Fardan (BAH/Team Meritus) 148, 4. Charlie-Ro Charlez (MAS/Team Meritus) 140 points, 5.Armaan Ebrahim (IND/Team E-Rain) 129 points, 6.Robert Boughey (THA/Team Meritus) 94 points, 7.An Suk-Won (KOR/Team E-Rain) 90 points, 8.Aaron Lim (MAS/Minardi Team Asia) 80 points, 9.Jonathan Chan (HKG/Minardi Team Asia) 41 points,10. Mitsunobu Endo (JPN/Team Meritus) 27 points, 11. Wang Jian-Wei (CHN/Ao's Racing Team) 19 points, 12. Dejan de Zoysa (SRI/Minardi Team Asia) 17 points.
Rookie Cup Final Points Standings.
1. Michael Patrizi 205 points, 2. Charlie-Ro Charlez 192 points, 3.Armaan Ebrahim 164 points, 4.An Suk Won 142 points, 5.Aaron Lim 113 points, 6.Wang Jian-Wei 74 points, 7.Dejan de Zoysa 40 points.