AP: Dominic Storey to compete in 2006

YOUNG AUCKLAND DRIVER TO CONTEST FORMULA BMW ASIA MOTOR RACING SERIES The good news on the New Zealand motor racing front continues this week with the announcement today that young Auckland karter Dominic Storey has signed a contract with BMW ...

YOUNG AUCKLAND DRIVER TO CONTEST FORMULA BMW ASIA MOTOR RACING SERIES

The good news on the New Zealand motor racing front continues this week with the announcement today that young Auckland karter Dominic Storey has signed a contract with BMW Motorsport to contest this year's Formula BMW Asia series.

Storey, 16, was one of 17 young drivers from across the Asia-Pacific region who travelled to the Bahrain International Circuit in January for a two-day trial and licencing test for the series.

And late last month BMW announced that he was one of three awarded $US50,000 scholarships to contest this year's seven round/19 race Formula BMW Asia series.

Storey is now the seventh young New Zealand driver in as many weeks to confirm plans to compete in a major overseas single-seater motor racing series this year.

The others are Wade Cunningham, Matthew Hamilton, Daniel Gaunt and Andy Knight who will compete in the United States, and Brendon Hartley and Chris Vander Drift who will compete in Europe.

Storey's move breaks new ground however in that he will be the first promising young New Zealand driver to remain based at home in Auckland and fly back and forth to races across Asia.

Veteran New Zealand single-seater driver Ken Smith and rival Graeme Lawrence used to fly back and forth to South-East Asia in the 1970s but in those days there were only two or three different circuits to race on.

This year Storey will compete in China (twice), Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, with two of his events supporting Formula 1 Grands Prix, the first at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia in ten days time, the second in Shanghai in China over the September 30/October 1 weekend.

Formula BMW is now widely regarded as the world's leading entry-level 'slicks-and-wings' class with national or pan-national series running in Europe, Asia and the US and a annual World Final in Bahrain.

The cars are purpose-build carbon-tubbed 'slicks-and-wings' single-seaters powered by a 140hp version of BMW's liquid-cooled, DOHC/16-valve K1200 engine.

The category was set up by BMW Motorsport to help identify and nurture potential Formula 1 drivers and as BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen says; 'Formula BMW offers talented young drivers more than just a car. In the Education and Coaching programme we have designed specially for them, they learn everything they need to know to hold their own in the world of motorsport."

St Kentigern College sixth former Storey is the second young New Zealand driver to win a BMW Motorsport scholarship and contract to compete in a series, fellow karter Chris Vander Drift having won one in 2003 and finished fourth and won the Rookie Cup award in the European series in 2004.

Storey's performance at the trial in Bahrain in January was noteworthy in the fact that he was not only the youngest driver there, he was also the only one without any prior single-seater car experience.

Despite that he impressed the judges enough to be short-listed, then named as one of the three scholarship winners with Daniel Ricciardo from Western Australia and Thai-based Briton James Grunwall.

Commenting on Storey's selection, Matthijs Hoitink, the Series Manager for the Formula BMW Asia Series said; "Dominic earned his Scholarship by convincing the BMW instructors with his exceptional handling skills and his grasp of technology. Dominic proved to be a fast learner and (to) have the natural talent."

Last year's Formula BMW Asia series was won by Salman Al Khalifa from Bahrain with the final race and the Rookie Cup award being won by young Western Australian driver Michael Patrizi.

Patrizi, a former karting contemporary of New Zealand's 2003 World Karting Champion Wade Cunningham, was widely regarded as the 'find' of the 2005 Asia series and this year, with the support of BMW Motorsport, he will compete in the Formula BMW UK Championship.

Like Patrizi, Cunningham and Vander Drift, Storey got his competition start in karts.

The 16-year-old is a member of the country's top kart club, KartSport Mt Wellington, and has been racing karts since he was nine years of age.

Last year Storey finished a close second to Earl Bamber in the Rotax Max Challenge Junior category and for the past three years he has anchored St Kentigern College's New Zealand School's Kart Championship team at the KartSport NZ New Zealand Schools' Championships.

This year's Formula BMW Asia series kicks off with a support slot at the Malaysia F1 GP at Sepang in Malaysia before taking in rounds back at Sepang in May, Beijing in China in June, Sentul in Indonesia in July, Bira in Thailand in August, Shanghai in China in September (the second F1 support meeting) and Taichung in Taiwan in October.

-fast company

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Wade Cunningham , Matthew Hamilton , Daniel Gaunt , Mario Theissen , Michael Patrizi , Brendon Hartley , Daniel Ricciardo , Earl Bamber , Dominic Storey