Al Fardan proves masterful in season opener.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Bahrain's Hamed Al Fardan (Team Meritus) took victory today in the opening round of the Formula BMW Asia 2006 season with a masterful display of controlled, mature and skilled driving. Starting from 5th on the grid, Al Fardan beat of spirited challenges from BMW Junior James Grunwell (17/Team Meritus), and pole-sitter, Australian Sam Abay (18/Team E-Rain), who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Kiwi Earl Bamber (Team Meritus) was 4th home and second fastest Rookie, followed by the second placed BMW Junior, Daniel Ricciardo (16/Eurasia Motorsport).
Al Fardan, who contested two seasons in the series but had not been at the wheel of the car since the end of last year, found his Formula BMW Asia form when it mattered: "It went just the way I'd planned it. It was one of my best races ever. I admit I did made one mistake, but I had a good start and felt very confident."
Both Grunwell and Abay admitted they had learned much over the course of the 10-lap race. Said Grunwell: "It was a learning experience for both of us. I didn't get a good start, so I know I have to work on that. I made a mistake and went off at the exit of turn six, and Ricciardo was all over me, but I managed to open up a gap. Actually, I could have done with another five laps or so to challenge Hamed!"
Abay was also upbeat and thrilled to be on the podium after this maiden race: "You could really see Hamed's experience shine through. You learn so much from each race and you just have to grab all you can and carry it to the next one. It was a great result first time out. We didn't know where we'd place when we got here, so this is a good start to the season and I hope we can build on this. I can't wait to get back in the car!"
Al Fardan was on a charge right from the lights, working his way through the field to take the lead early on. However, the chasing pack was right behind him with Abay leading Grunwell until the closing stages when the Australian made a mistake and the Thai, who is on pole for tomorrow's race, sailed through to take 2nd.
Malaysian Aaron Lim's (Eurasia Motorsport) disappointing weekend continued with his 10th place finish as the set problem which has plagued him all week remained, however the team are working hard to ensure he is back on the pace for the race tomorrow .
Round 2 of Formula BMW Asia will be run over 10 laps of the 5.6km Sepang International Circuit tomorrow (Sunday) prior to the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix.