Abay celebrates with double pole.
Shanghai, China -- Sam Abay (AUS/Team E-Rain) celebrated his 19th birthday today by taking pole position for Rounds 15 and 16 on a wet track, dominating the single, 30-minute qualifying session and topping the time sheets throughout. The drivers' second-best times dictate the starting order for the second race of the weekend, and Earl Bamber (NZL/Team Meritus), will start alongside Abay for Round 15, having struggled for much of the session and clocking his quickest time on the final lap. BMW Junior Dominic Storey (NZL/Eurasia Motorsport) was third fastest overall.
For Round 16, championship-leader Abay's second-fastest time of 2:30.205 gives him pole, followed once again by Storey and his fellow BMW Junior and team mate Aaron Lim (MAS). BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo, third overall in the driver classification going in to the next rounds, will start from 4th on the grid for both 10-lap races.
From the start of the session, Abay took control in the wet, setting quicker times as the seconds ticked by: "It's the first time in the wet in these cars, so I was a bit cautious to start with. I built up a rhythm and tried to be smooth, which is key in the wet. If you look slow, it means you're fast in these conditions." And fast he was.
Junior and Rookie Storey, buoyed by his second season podium in Thailand earlier this month, was second fastest for much of the session, until Lim found his form to grab the position. However, by the flag Bamber had set his last-gasp lightning lap and Ricciardo had moved into 4th behind Storey, leaving Lim disappointed: "I thought I'd be top three. I made a mistake on the last lap, but I know that, based on last year, you can start from 5th or 6th and get up to the front," he said of the wide and sweeping Shanghai International Circuit, which provides plenty of overtaking opportunities. Only he, and Mohammad Al Baharna (BRN/Team E-Rain) who race here two years' ago, have previous experience of the 5.451km track.
Formula BMW USA driver Maxime Pelletier (CAN/Gelles Racing) is making his Asian series debut this weekend, and plans to compete in the final five rounds of the season. Pelletier is third in the Rookie standings in the US series, and hopes his Formula BMW Asia experience will give him added confidence for the Formula BMW World Final in Valencia, Spain in November.
Rounds 15 and 16 of Formula BMW Asia will be held tomorrow (Sunday) over 10 laps each of the Shanghai International Circuit as an official support event to the Formula 1 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix.