AP: Beijing rounds 6-8 preview

Formula BMW Asia heads to Beijing in quest for next Chinese champion. Beijing, China -- Formula BMW Asia heads to China's capital next month where it will demonstrate why it has so quickly become recognised as the region's premier entry level ...

Formula BMW Asia heads to Beijing in quest for next Chinese champion.

Beijing, China -- Formula BMW Asia heads to China's capital next month where it will demonstrate why it has so quickly become recognised as the region's premier entry level single seater series -- and to seek its third Chinese champion.

Two of the three drivers crowed Formula BMW Asia Champion so far have been Chinese: Dutch-Chinese Ho Pin Tung who took the inaugural title in 2003, and was subsequently rewarded with a Formula One test by BMW Motorsport; and Hong Kong's Marchy Lee Ying-Kin, champion the following year.

Other Chinese drivers who have made their mark over the course of the last three seasons include Shanghai-born literary and now motorsport-celebrity Han Han, Wang Jian Wei, both of whom won BMW Motorsport Scholarships, Song Ge, Chia On, Hanss Lin Po Heng, Jonathan Chan, Jim Ka To and Michael Ting.

This season, for the first time, China is not represented in the highly-competitive, international Formula BMW Asia field, but the Beijing rounds will provide local youngsters with an opportunity to see first-hand how BMW Motorsport utilises its wealth of experience and unparalleled expertise to transform young karters into successful international racers.

The series returns to China later this season as an Official support race to the 2006 Formula 1TM Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, while the Grand Finale of the season will be held at Southern China's Zhuhai International Circuit in October.

In order to make the transition from kart racer, or simply motorsport enthusiast, to racing protege even easier, BMW Motorsport also provides a number of Formula BMW Asia scholarships each season, incorporating financial assistance and comprehensive training, for those who demonstrate the greatest potential.

With Formula BMW championships in Germany, the USA, and the UK, in addition to Asia, all participating drivers are eligible to contest the annual World Final which decides the worldwide Formula BMW Champion. The winner of the end-of-season World Final is rewarded with a test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Ralf Schumacher (Toyota Racing), Nico Rosberg (WilliamsF1 Team), Christian Klien (Red Bull Racing) and Adrian Sutil (MF1 Racing) are all Formula BMW graduates, and BMW Motorsport continues to groom and nurture more stars of the future each season.

BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen: "Motorsport in China is developing at a rapid pace -- far faster than it ever has in Europe or North America -- and we believe Formula BMW Asia provides an ideal platform on which to develop young drivers there. We have designed a car which exceeds FIA safety requirements in its class, developed series which is professionally run to the highest standards, and crafted an Education & Coaching Programme which is the most comprehensive and all-encompassing in the region.

"BMW Motorsport has a long history of successes at the pinnacle of the sport, and we believe in utilising our expertise to develop the next generation of champions. A glance at the list of Formula BMW graduates who are already competing in Formula One is proof of just how powerful our driver development programme is. We look forward to crowning our next Chinese Formula BMW Asia Champion in the near future."

The 2006 Formula BMW Asia field includes drivers from across the whole of Asia and the Pacific, including Bahrain, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Although motorsport is relatively new to the region, the standard of racing in this series is high, and graduates are more than able to hold their own anywhere in the world.

Testament to this is the fact that 2005 Formula BMW Asia Rookie Cup winner, Australia's Michael Patrizi, who took the last season's overall championship prize of a fully BMW Motorsport funded season in the Formula BMW UK Championship, is proving a match for some of the brightest lights in British motor racing.

After five races of the season completed, it is New Zealand Rookie Earl Bamber (Team Meritus) who, aged just 15, currently tops the championship standings with an 18 point lead after an unbroken run of three successive wins, followed by Australian Sam Abay (18/Team E-Rain), and Thailand's James Grunwell (17/Team Meritus). Bamber and Grunwell take the top two positions in the battle for the Rookie Cup, followed by top BMW Junior Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Eurasia Motorsport).

In 2006, Formula BMW Asia includes 19 rounds, with the opening two rounds Official support races to the 2006 Formula 1TM Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix in March. Three further rounds in Malaysia followed earlier this month and, after the Beijing rounds, the series will move to Indonesia's Sentul Circuit and the Bira Circuit in Thailand, before returning to China for the 2006 Formula 1TM Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix.

Qualifying and the 20-lap Round 6 of Formula BMW Asia will be held on Saturday, June 10 at the Goldenport Circuit in Beijing, with Rounds 7 and 8 the following day.

-bmw.asia-

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Nico Rosberg , Christian Klien , Adrian Sutil , Mario Theissen , Michael Patrizi , Daniel Ricciardo , James Grunwell , Sam Abay , Marchy Lee , Han Han , Jim Ka To , Jian Wei Wang
Teams Red Bull Racing , Sauber , Williams , Toyota Racing