SINCE 2006, ADELAIDE'S TEAM BRM has forged a reputation for being the Formula 3 Australian Drivers' Championship's 'international' team.

Drivers like Ben Clucas, James Winslow, Joey Foster and even Bruno Senna have come from overseas to race with the five-time champions of Australia's premier open wheel series, and most of them have tasted success.

And it's a trend that will continue in 2010 following conformation that 18-year-old Chinese driver Zhang Shan Qi will join British ace Ben Barker in a two-car attack on the 2010 Gold Star.

Zhang made his Formula 3 debut in the 2009 season-ending F3 SuperPrix at Sandown with R-Tek Motorsport after forging his early career steps in Karting and Asian Formula Renault with some success.

At Sandown last year he spent the weekend coming to grips with the Formula 3 car but ended it well within striking distance of the leading cars within the F3 National Class that weekend.

His Team BRM Dallara F307 - Mercedes chassis will this year run in the colours of Chinese Team PTRS, with whom Zhang has done much of his open wheel racing.

"It is very exciting for our team to welcome Zhang Shan Qi to the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship," Team BRM owner Bronte Rundle said.

"It is a validation of the level of competition and the cost effectiveness of Formula 3 in Australia that Team BRM has attracted drivers like Zhang and Ben Barker to our line-up this year. Obviously it is very good for our team but it is great for the championship.

"At this stage it looks like there could be five to seven outright cars well in contention for the championship and that will be a great thing. Already it is a more competitive grid than last year but we are confident we have the ability to challenge for a third consecutive Gold Star title."

The 2010 Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship kicks off at Wakefield Park in regional New South Wales on March 5 - 7, with early indications predicting a sensational fight for this year's title.

Team BRM will field its two cars already announced and are in negotiations to run a third entry.

2009 race-winner Mat Sofi will return seeking his first title, whilst current Graham Watson Rookie of the year award winner and F3 National Class champion Tom Tweedie, from New South Wales, will be keen to take more outright success in 2010.

Melbourne-based TanderSport have two F307s ready and waiting and are expected to confirm their plans soon.

The 2010 championship will feature a new three-race format and a knock-out qualifying format trialled successfully at the Sandown SuperPrix in 2009.

The 2010 Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship kicks off at Wakefield Park on March 4 - 6.

-source: formula3