AP: Performance Center to open in Bahrain

BMW opens Perfomance Center in Bahrain. Manama/Munich. The Middle East is about to add another chapter to its fledgling motor sport history on 9th January 2005, when the BMW Performance Center Bahrain throws open its gates for the first time...

BMW opens Perfomance Center in Bahrain.

Manama/Munich. The Middle East is about to add another chapter to its fledgling motor sport history on 9th January 2005, when the BMW Performance Center Bahrain throws open its gates for the first time at the Bahrain International Circuit. More than 20 junior racing drivers from all over Asia will take part in the three-day inaugural event at the Gulf region's most modern circuit - the licence course and Scholarship Qualifying for Formula BMW Asia 2005.

The aspiring drivers, some as young as 15, will first be introduced to the theoretical foundations of the art of motor racing at the Formula BMW Racing Center Bahrain. They will then have an opportunity to put their freshly acquired insights into practice in ten brand-new FB02 BMW Formula cars packing 140 bhp and a top speed of almost 230 km/h. Acting as instructors are former racing drivers Paul Spooner and Mike Strotmann, director of the Formula BMW Racing Center Valencia.

The BMW Performance Center in Bahrain is a new home not only for Formula BMW but also for BMW Driver Training. Starting in spring of 2005, a variety of training courses will be on offer to all-comers. The range of cars involved extends from the BMW 1 Series to the BMW M3, and the safety training courses at varying levels of difficulty will be held within the Performance Center as well as on the race track.

The circuit to the south of the capital Manama was designed by German architect Hermann Tilke. It took a mere 16 months from the official start of construction in December 2002 to the inaugural race on 3rd April 2004 - the season's opener of last year's Formula BMW Asia, which was held as part of the Formula One Grand Prix support programme. Today the complex offers six circuit variants. The Grand Prix Course, which this year again hosts Formula One and Formula BMW on the first weekend in April, is 5.417 kilometres long.

"We are delighted to have won the Bahrain International Circuit as a partner of the BMW Performance Center," says BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "The race track is brand-new and boasts first-rate safety standards. The Gulf region, moreover, offers good climatic conditions in winter as well."

Background:

Formula BMW is the world's leading entry-level class in Formula racing. In 2005 the series will be held in Germany, Britain, Asia and the USA. Up-and- coming drivers as young as 15 years of age are given the opportunity of entering motor racing with the high-tech, standard FB02 race car.

This racer has been seen on the grid since 2002 and has set standards particularly on the safety technology front. A single-seater propelled by a 140 bhp BMW motorcycle engine up to 230 km/h, it exceeds by far the safety requirements for its class. BMW Motorsport has developed the FORS Formula Rescue Seat especially for Formula BMW, and the HANS safety system is also mandatory.

In 2005, Formula BMW will be staged five times as part of the Formula One support programme. All the series offer a multifaceted Education and Coaching Programme as well as sponsorship for promising racing talents. The best-known alumni of this talent hothouse are Formula One drivers Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien and Timo Glock.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "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 big wide world of motor racing. Formula BMW has shot out of the blocks to become the top entry-level class for Formula racing worldwide."

-bmw-

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