Formula BMW USA - Lime Rock - Round 3 - Race

(PresseBox) (Lakeville, ) Although the grid for Round 3 of the Formula BMW USA championship at Lime Rock Park was set according to the rules and based on the points standings after the cancellation of qualifying, the 25-lap race was anything but textbook.

Junior driver Robert Wickens (Team Apex Racing USA) scored his first victory of the 2006 season, finishing ahead of a relentless Simona de Silvestro (EuroInternational) after a many-lap battle. Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA) finished third after starting from the outside of the front row. The race ended behind the safety car following the race's second caution period, prematurely ending the most exciting race of the season to-date.

After overcast skies gave way to bright sun, 26 starters made a clean standing start.
By lap five, it was polesitter Daniel Morad (AIM Autosport), Wickens, from the sixth starting position, and Stevens in the top-three spots. De Silvestro, starting from 10th, passed Stevens on lap seven and set her focus on Wickens. She passed Wickens on lap 10, but slid off course, falling back to sixth, as Morad set the race's fastest lap (53.225 seconds). The race went yellow after contact caused the No. 9 of Yannick Hofman (HBR Motorsport Team USA) to roll in turn 1. He was unhurt and the race went green three laps later. De Silvestro moved up to second on lap 17. One lap later Morad spun coming onto the front straight and Sebastian Saavedra (Gelles Racing), in the move of the race, went to grass and pit-in to avoid him. The race continued with Wickens, de Silvestro and Stevens at the front until the second yellow of the race on lap 22 after Morad went off the track due to a mechanical failure resulting in an exciting race finishing behind the safety car.

Saavedra came to the checkered flag fourth for his best finish of the year. Another notable drive was given by Matt Lee (Team Autotecnica) who finished a season's-best seventh after starting 23rd.

All Formula BMW USA Juniors scored top-10 finishes. The top finishing Rookies were Saavedra (P4), David Garza (P5), Maxime Pelletier (P8), Robert Thorne (P9) and Jordan Dick (P10).

Wickens said, "My team gave me a great car. I was able to go from sixth to forth on the start. I had a very fast car and I didn't want to crash out of the race. So I was just patient waiting for the right opportunity and when it came I go for it. And the next thing I know I was in the lead and I was able to get quite a bit of a lead. Simona was very fast, I saw her catching me a little bit. I had to pick up the pace again and I was able to keep the gap until the end of the race." He added, "Without the yellow flag at the end, the race would have been even much more exciting. I think that I still would have won the race."

De Silvestro said, "I had a great car. After a bad start I was on 13th, but I wanted to make points to be able to win the championship at the end of the year. I pushed really hard and was able to come on second. In the last lap before the yellow flag came out, I was very close to Robert. I had a lot of speed, but then the safety car came out and I couldn't pass him. Tomorrow I am going to start from second and I am sure I can make it on the podium again."

Stevens said, "I had a really good start and I pushed as hard as I could in the beginning. Unfortunately, the other drivers were pretty quick. The car was not quite as good as I like to have it but, considering that it was completely crashed in the morning and we just put it together, to come on third is not bad. I just focused on driving cleanly and as consistently as possible and I was able to finish pretty well."

Round 4 of the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship is scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. Monday, May 29.

Round 3 - Results (25 laps)

1 Robert Wickens Team Apex Racing USA 28:00.539
2 Simona de Silvestro EuroInternational 28:01.274
3 Reed Stevens HBR Motorsport Team USA 28:01.832
4 Sebastian Saavedra (R) Gelles Racing 28:02.230
5 David Garza (R) EuroInternational 28:02.406
6 Race Johnson HBR Motorsport Team USA 28:03.277
7 Matt Lee Team Autotecnica 28:04.285
8 Maxime Pelletier (R) Gelles Racing 28:05.496
9 Robert Thorne (R) Team Autotecnica 28:06.142
10 Jordan Dick (R) Team Apex Racing USA 28:06.913
11 Scott Schroeder American Spirit Grand Prix 28:07.621
12 Ryan Phinny Hearn Motorsports 28:08.538
13 Ryan Campbell Gelles Racing 28:09.616
14 Doug Boyer AIM Autosport 28:10.700
15 Steven Guerrero (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 28:12.083
16 John Zartarian Gelles Racing 28:13.199
17 David Farias (R) Jensen Motorsport 28:14.081
18 Adrien Herberts Gelles Racing 28:16.078
19 Philip Major Atlantic Racing Team 28:16.892
20 Frankie Muniz Jensen Motorsport 28:18.140
21 Marco Santos Haberfeld & Walker Racing 28:19.044
22 Joel Jackson (R) Gelles Racing 28:19.708
23 David Rangel Haberfeld & Walker Racing 28:20.655
24 Daniel Morad (R) AIM Autosport 21 laps
25 Yannick Hofman HBR Motorsport Team USA 11 laps
26 Jules Duc Hearn Motorsports disqualified*

* per Race Director for unjustifiable risk (IMSA Code 5.7)

Championship points after 3 of 14 races:

1. Robert Wickens (Team Apex Racing USA, 35), 2. Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 32), 3. Simona de Silvestro (EuroInternational, 25), 4. David Garza (EuroInternational, 25), 5. Daniel Morad (AIM Autosport, 20), 6. Sebastian Saavedra (Gelles Racing, 20), 7. John Zartarian (Gelles Racing, 18), 8. Adrien Herberts (Gelles Racing, 16), 9. Race Johnson (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 16), 10. Ryan Campbell (Gelles Racing, 10), 11. Doug Boyer (AIM Autosport, 8), 12. Scott Schroeder (American Spirit Grand Prix, 6), 13. Matt Lee (Autotecnica, 5), 14. Maxime Pelletier (Gelles Racing, 4), 15. Robert Thorne (Team Autotecnica, 4), 16. Jordan Dick (Team Apex Racing USA, 2), 17. Ryan Phinny (Hearn Motorsports, 0), 18. Jules Duc (Hearn Motorsports, 0), 19. Yannick Hofman (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 0), 20. Marco Santos (Haberfeld & Walker Racing, 0), 21. Steven Guerrero (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 0), 22. David Rangel (Haberfeld & Walker Racing, 0), 23. David Farias (Jensen Motorsport, 0), 24. Philip Major (Atlantic Racing Team, 0), 25. Frankie Muniz (Jensen Motorsport, 0), 26. Joel Jackson (Gelles Racing, 0)

Rookies: 1. Sebastian Saavedra (50), 2. David Garza (47), 3. Daniel Morad (31), 4. Maxime Pelletier (30), 5. Robert Thorne (30), 6. Jordan Dick (22), 7. Steven Guerrero (14), 8. Joel Jackson (10)

Background:

Formula BMW is the world's leading entry-level class in Formula racing. In 2006 the series will be held in Germany, the UK, Asia and the USA. Up-and-coming drivers as young as 15-years old are given the opportunity of entering motor racing with the high-tech, standard FB02 race car.

The FB02 race car has been seen on the grid since 2002 and has set standards particularly on the safety technology front. The single-seater is powered by a 140 bhp BMW engine, reaching speeds up to 140 mph and exceeds the FIA safety requirements for its class. BMW Motorsport has developed the FORS (Formula Rescue Race Seat) especially for Formula BMW. The HANS (Head and Neck Support) safety system is also mandatory.

In 2006, Formula BMW will occur five times as a support series to Formula One races. All of the international series offer a multifaceted Education and Coaching Program as well as sponsorship for promising racing talents. The best-known alumni are Formula One drivers Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien and Nico Rosberg.

BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen, "Formula BMW offers talented young drivers more than just a car. In the Education and Coaching Program we have designed specially for them, they learn everything they need to know to hold their own in the world of motor racing. Formula BMW has become one of the top entry-level classes for Formula racing worldwide."

From November 24 to 26, 2006 the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo will host the second Formula BMW World Final. Young racing drivers from the four regional Formula BMW series will compete against each other. The winner will get a test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

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