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Formula BMW
Chaves celebrates Formula BMW Americas title
The first title of the 2009 Formula BMW season has been claimed: victories in rounds 11 and 12 of the Formula BMW Americas series in Elkhart Lake/Road America (US) were enough to secure overall victory for Eurointernational driver Gabby Chaves (CO) with races to spare. The 16-year-old has 205 points to his name, meaning he can no longer be caught by his closest rival, team-mate Giancarlo Vilarinho (BR), at the remaining two races in Mosport (CA). With 154 points, Vilarinho is assured of second place in the championship.

“I think Giancarlo has more wins than I do this year (six for Vilarinho to five for Chaves),” said Chaves after achieving the biggest success of his career so far. “But it has been our consistency and our ability to be there at the end that has won this championship. We have put ourselves in position to score big points in every race and that is what a champion does. I am very happy to have been a part of the Formula BMW Americas series this year and am excited to have won the title.”

Vilarinho was shown the black flag for blocking another driver in the first race. In race two he was involved in a serious accident, which sent many drivers into retirement. However, all those involved were able to leave the medical centre without serious injuries. This incident crushed any hopes the South American may have had of winning the title. In contrast, the two rookies Joao Horto (BR) and Alex Ellis (CA) had good reason to celebrate. They each finished runner-up in races one and two respectively to record their best results of the current Formula BMW Americas season. Michael Lewis (US) finished third in both races.

The rookie standings promise to provide an exciting end to the season. James Kovacic (AU) currently leads on 95 points, just three ahead of Lewis. Ellis and Horto also travel to the season finale on 29th/30th August 2009 with hopes of snatching the title.

Chaves was not the only person to celebrate in Road America: in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), with whom Formula BMW Americas shared the bill, BMW Rahal Letterman Racing enjoyed its first taste of victory in the GT class. Joey Hand (US) and Bill Auberlen (US) brought home the class win in their BMW M3, while Tommy Milner (US) and Dirk Müller (DE) finished second in the class to put the icing on the cake for BMW Rahal Letterman Racing.

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