Bamber clinches Shanghai victory.
Shanghai, China -- Earl Bamber (NZL/Team Meritus) denied series-leader Sam Abay (AUS/Team E-Rain) a birthday win today, with a mature and measured manoeuvre which gave him the lead from the pole-sitter in the early stages of the 10-lap race. BMW Junior Dominic Storey (NZL/Eurasia Motorsport) took his second podium in as many races to finish 3rd.
Abay had to settle for second place, but that result earned him enough points to retain his place at the top of the leaderboard, but his margin over Bamber is reduced from 14 to just 10 points, with four rounds still to go. BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport, who finished 4th, remains 3rd in the points. In the Rookie Cup standings, Bamber's win strengthens his lead at the top of the table, 27 points in front of Ricciardo.
Abay got away well from pole, but Bamber was on a charge from the offset. He got a good tow behind the Australian on the long straight, made his move and never looked back, pulling out a more than two second gap by the flag. Storey and Ricciardo switched places several times in the early stages, but the Kiwi triumphed and had also pulled a comfortable lead from his fellow Junior by the end of the race, even closing in on Abay at one stage.
Further back, however, an exciting duel ensued between Zahir Ali (INA/Eurasia Motorsport) and BMW Junior James Grunwell (THA/Team Meritus). Although Grunwell did his best to hold off the Indonesian, a persistent Ali eventually triumphed. Grunwell later spun on the treacherously slippery wet track, allowing series newcomer and Formula BMW USA Maxime Pelletier through to finish 8th in his debut Asian series race. Ali, meanwhile, took the chase to Mohammed Al Baharna (BRN/Team E-Rain), with just 0.089 seconds between the pair at the flag.
Said Bamber: "I got a good start, but it was difficult as we've never done one in the wet before. The track was wet, but the braking zone was dry, so I was quite confident. We're further back for tomorrow, but the championship is getting closer and closer."
Storey had an eventful race, but couldn't hide is absolute delight at being on the podium at a Formula 1 Grand Prix: "It was awesome! To hear the New Zealand National Anthem play (for Bamber) was fantastic. (BMW Sauber F1 test driver) Sebastian Vettel presented the trophies--everything was just great. This has given me more confidence in myself and in the car."
Abay, meanwhile, was far from satisfied, conscious that his grip on the title is slipping, saying: "I'm not in this to come second. I'm in it to win!"
After the race, the four BMW Juniors met with Vettel for a question and answer session in the paddock.
Round 16 of Formula BMW Asia will be held prior to the start of the Formula 1 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix.