AP: 2005 Scholarships qualifying changes

Huge Response for Formula BMW Asia Scholarship Qualifying. December 17, 2004 - Manama, Bahrain - As the popularity of motorsport in the Asian region continues to soar, the response for the qualifying trial for four of the five Formula BMW Asia...

Huge Response for Formula BMW Asia Scholarship Qualifying.

December 17, 2004 - Manama, Bahrain - As the popularity of motorsport in the Asian region continues to soar, the response for the qualifying trial for four of the five Formula BMW Asia 2005 Scholarships, to be held at the new BMW Performance Center at the state-of-the-art Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) next month, has been enormous.

The number of participants was originally restricted to 16, but the response has been so strong that this has been increased to 18, and it is likely that an additional day will be added to the programme to accommodate even more.

The Scholarships, provided by BMW Motorsport and open to youngsters between the ages of 15 and 21, are each worth US-Dollars 50,000 plus a comprehensive, season-long Education & Coaching programme. The fifth scholarship is automatically awarded to the winner of the Formula BMW Asia Rookie Cup in the previous season.

Seven of the drivers who are hoping to win one of the coveted scholarships this year are from China where the series has a strong following. Three of the drivers, Zuo Xiao Long, Zhang Jun Shang, and Chia On are just 16-years- old. They will be joined in Bahrain by Lo Shiu Fong, Song Ge, Yuen Man Wai, and Wang Jian Wei.

Last season, best-selling Chinese author Han Han won a BMW scholarship, and the championship title was clinched by Marchy Lee from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China. This, coupled with the fact that four of the 14 Formula BMW Asia rounds were held in China - at Beijing's Goldenport Circuit and as part of China's first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend in Shanghai - has given the series a high profile in the world's most populous country.

However the Formula BMW Asia is truly representative of the entire Asian region and applications have also been received from Filipino, Thai, Korean and Indian drivers. The only lady applicant is 15-year-old Michelle Bumgarner of the Philippines, from South Korea comes An Suk Wong, while the Thai entry is Sivareak Sae-Lim.

In the Middle East, a contest currently underway to win four scholarship trial places has received massive attention. Last year the series included three drivers from Bahrain which has become the heart of motorsport in the Middle East since it hosted its first Formula 1 Grand Prix at the start of the season, followed by the FIA GT Championship and the international Formula 3 season-closer this month.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "The response to the Scholarship Qualifying this year is tremendously exciting. It proves that, after just two seasons, Formula BMW Asia is now recognised in the region as being the only choice for youngsters serious about a career at the top level of international motorsport. We have a valuable opportunity to nurture this young talent, and our series and comprehensive training programme will offer them the very best opportunities."

Formula BMW Asia 2005 Scholarship Qualifying will be held at BIC from January 8 to 10, with an additional day to be announced.

-fbmw.ap-

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Mario Theissen , Marchy Lee , Han Han , Jian Wei Wang