Young New Zealand racing driver Dominic Storey was a front runner in both Formula BMW Asia support races at China's rain-lashed Formula Grand Prix meeting at Shanghai on Sunday.
The 16-year-old from Auckland matched his best qualifying effort so far this season despite difficult wet track conditions, with a third placed start in the first race and second place start in the second.
He then went on to finish third in the first race and fourth in the second.
The third placing gave the class rookie his third podium so far this season and marked a further step forward in competitiveness for the St Kentigern College student.
Speaking after the podium ceremony, in which the trophies were presented by BMW Formula 1 test driver Sebastian Vettel, he said;
"This is awesome. Everything was just great. This has given me more confidence in myself and in the car."
In the first race, won by Storey's compatriot and former New Zealand kart scene sparring partner Earl Bamber from pole winner and championship points leader Sam Abay, Abay got an initial jump but Bamber quickly caught, drafted past on the Shanghai circuit's long start/finish straight, and pulled away to cross the line just over two seconds in front.
Storey and fellow Rookie of The year category combatant Daniel Ricciardo (who qualified fourth) swapped places several times in the early stages of the race but the young Kiwi prevailed, eventually pulling out a comfortable gap on the Australian and closing on second place man Abay to finish third.
However Abay, who celebrated his 19th birthday on Sunday, got the win he was looking for in the second race, leading from start to finish with Bamber second, Ricciardo third and Dominic Storey fourth.
Storey started the race from the front row of the grid beside Abay but Ricciardo got a flier from the second row to pass the young Kiwi.
Storey remained in third until countryman Bamber (who started from P5 on the grid) got by and set off after Ricciardo. Bamber got past Ricciardo but the latter quickly returned the favour and the pair remained locked in a battle for position, eventually settled in Bamber's favour, to the flag, with Storey holding a watching brief in fourth.
Points-wise the result has allowed Storey to close the gap on those in front if him in both the overall and Rookie of The Year categories. Going into the meeting the young Aucklander was in sixth place in the overall standings 18 points behind fifth placed Eurasia teammate Aaron Lim. Now he is just 12 points back.
In the Rookie of The Year category Storey went into the meeting in fourth place 53 points behind Thai-based Brit James Grunwell. Now he is just 46 points behind with just 45 points separating second placeman Ricciardo, third placed Grunwell and Storey.
The drivers now have just over two weeks to prepare for the final three races of the 2006 season at the Zhuhai International Circuit back in China over the October 21/22 weekend.
Formula BMW is the world's leading entry-level class in Formula racing. 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 car has been seen on the grid since 2002 and has set standards particularly on the safety technology front. BMW's 140 bhp K1200 engine is capable of propelling it to 230km/h and the car itself exceeds the FIA safety requirements for its class. BMW Motorsport has also developed the FORS Formula Rescue Race Seat especially for Formula BMW. As well as this all Formula BMW Asia drivers must use the HANS safety system.
Formula BMW series are held in Asia, Europe, the UK and the United States and in late November this year the annual Formula BMW World Final will be held at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tomo.
Dominic Storey is proud to be one of New Zealand motor racing's Black Bullets. To find out more about our Black Bullets go to www.blackbullets.com