Formula Bmw USA - San Jose GP preview
The San Jose Grand Prix will host Rounds 9 and 10 of the 2007 Formula BMW USA Championship on July 27 - 29 as Formula BMW USA joins the Champ Car World Series for two consecutive race weekends. Challenging may well prove to be an understatement for the 17 young drivers entered as the 1.5-mile, 7-turn Redback Raceway that slashes through the San Jose streets will provide quite a contrast to the rolling 4.0-mile, 15-turn Road America circuit that will see Rounds 11 and 12 on August 9 - 12.
The Formula BMW USA Championship passed the mid-point of the season at Lime Rock Park on July 6 - 7 with Round 8 marking the 50th Formula BMW USA race since the series began in 2004.
Three young men have stood on the top step of the podium so far this season and they are also at the top of the Overall point standings. Daniel Morad (Eurointernational), who won one race last year on his way to the Rookie Championship, has added five more victories this year. Now the driver with the most career Formula BMW USA wins, he leads by 77 points. With a breakthrough win in Round 7 at Lime Rock Park, second-year driver Sebastian Saavedra (Eurointernational) moved to second in Overall points. Rookie sensation Esteban Gutierrez (Autotecnica) may have fallen five points behind Saavedra after two 17th place finishes at Lime Rock, but the 15-year old continues to lead the Rookie standings. The holder of a record six poles in a row in Rounds 1 through 6, Gutierrez’s almost uncanny ability to learn new circuits quickly will serve him well in San Jose.
Behind these three Maxime Pelletier (HBR Motorsport Team USA), Alexander Rossi (Team Apex Racing USA) and Steven Guerrero (HBR Motorsport Team USA) stand fourth, fifth and sixth respectively - only a seven point spread between them.
While the newest class of Formula BMW USA drivers chase their dreams, series graduates continue to shine as they climb the motorsport ladder. The San Jose Grand Prix will prove to be a reunion as many graduates compete in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. Robert Wickens (2006 Formula BMW USA Champion) took the overall pole and finished second in the opening round of the Champ Car Atlantic season at the Las Vegas Grand Prix and won in just his fourth start in Portland. In addition to Wickens, eight more Formula BMW USA graduates are racing in Atlantics this year; James Hinchcliffe (04), Kevin Lacroix (05), Matt Lee (06), Tom Sutherland (04, 05), Simona De Silvestro (06), Frankie Muniz (06), Adrien Herberts (05, 06) and David Garza (06).
Graham Rahal, one of the first group of Formula BMW USA Junior scholarship winners, became the first Formula BMW USA graduate a gain a full-time drive in the Champ Car World Series with his start at Las Vegas this year. The future star became the youngest ever to reach a Champ Car World Series podium with his second-place finish in the Grand Prix of Houston in April of this year.
Two practice sessions will be held on Friday at 8:00 - 8:30 a.m. and 3:20 - 3:50 p.m., with Round 9 qualifying set for 5:20 - 5:50 p.m. Saturday will see Round 10 qualifying at 11:50 - 12:20 p.m. followed by the Round 9 race at 3:20 - 4:05 p.m.
On Sunday, shortly after a 15-minute morning warm-up at 8:00 a.m., the Round 10 race will begin at 9:55 a.m.