AP: Scholarship winners announced

Formula BMW Asia 2006 Scholarship winners announced Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Following an intense two-day trial and licensing course at Bahrain International Circuit last month, three lucky youngsters have been selected from the 17 hopefuls from...

Formula BMW Asia 2006 Scholarship winners announced

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Following an intense two-day trial and licensing course at Bahrain International Circuit last month, three lucky youngsters have been selected from the 17 hopefuls from across the Asia Pacific region who attended to receive a coveted Formula BMW Asia Scholarship.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo, Thai-based Briton James Grunwell, both 16 years old, and South Korean Kim Jun Tae, 19, were selected from the high- quality field of drivers and will each receive a 50.000 US Dollar cash contribution towards their Formula BMW Asia 2006 campaigns plus a full season in the comprehensive Education & Coaching programme.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "Our Formula BMW Juniors have duly earned their scholarships. They convinced the BMW instructors with their exceptional handling skills and their grasp of technology. Now they will have the opportunity to take the Formula BMW Education and Coaching Programme and learn everything they need to know to assert themselves in the big, wide world of motor sport. I wish them every success."

Ricciardo will be looking to mirror the success of fellow countryman and BMW Scholarship winner Michael Patrizi (21/Team Meritus). Last year Patrizi became the first Australian ever to compete in the series, making a major impact by winning the Rookie Cup and finishing second overall in the championship. As a reward for his tremendous achievements in Asia, Patrizi is about to embark on a fully-BMW Motorsport funded season in the Formula BMW UK Championship.

A full-time student, Ricciardo has already been karting for six years - winning the Australian CIK Championship and the West Australian State Championship - and grew up watching his father, Joe, racing. He lists competing overseas as one of his long-term racing goals, something he is now set to achieve in March under the daunting eyes of the Formula One fraternity as the 2006 season gets underway in Malaysia.

Bangkok-based Grunwell was overjoyed - and relieved - to have secured a scholarship, admitting that the Bahrain trials were incredibly stressful. He has flown the flag for Thailand during his promising karting career, most recently in the Rotax Max World Junior finals. As well as karting, Grunwell has raced formula concept cars and MINI Coopers in Thailand, but the move to Formula BMW Asia this season represents a major leap forward in his career.

Kim Jun Tae, follows in the footsteps of fellow Koreans An Suk Won (19/Team E-Rain) and You Kyong Ouk (25/Team E-Rain), both of whom won Formula BMW Asia Scholarships. An finished 4th in the Rookie Cup last season, while You spent two years with Formula BMW Asia, winning a scholarship in 2003 and, by virtue of taking the Rookie Cup title that year, earned a second scholarship in 2004 when he was runner-up in the championship to Hong Kong's Marchy Lee.

Kim began karting in 2001, moving to the F1800 domestic series in 2004.

In a country where motor racing is still a fledgling sport, the Formula BMW Asia concept and scholarship system are doing much to develop young drivers.

Should any of the chosen drivers be unable to take up their scholarships, three reserves are waiting in the wings. In order of priority, they are: 15-year-old Bahraini Mohamed Al A'ali; Dominic Storey, the 16-year-old New Zealander who finished second in last year's Rotax Max Challenge and won a Bruce McLaren Kartsport Scholarship in 2004; and Hyderabad-born Aditya Akkineni, 17, who competed last year in the Indian Rotax Max Senior Championship.

A fourth scholarship has been awarded to Malaysian Charlie-Ro Charlez (20/Team Meritus). Charlez was Rookie Cup runner-up in 2005 and, with Patrizi taking the overall championship prize, the Malaysian will receive the Formula BMW Asia scholarship in Patrizi's place. Reaching the podium on no fewer than eight occasions in his debut motor racing season last year, Charlez starts 2006 as a hot favourite to clinch the championship.

The wide-ranging Education and Coaching Programme has proven a highly effective tool in the development of aspiring Asian drivers, enabling them to deliver a consistently high performance both on the track and off. The curriculum encompasses professional training in areas such as driving technique and tactics, chassis set-up, fitness and nutrition, media, and sponsorship and sports management. The Programme is an integral part of the scholarship package, but is also available to all Formula BMW Asia drivers.

Formula BMW Asia has been expanded for 2006 to include 19 rounds, the most since its inception in 2003. Mario Theissen comments: "The Formula BMW Asia racing calendar for the 2006 season is an impressive one. Our drivers will have two opportunities - at the Malaysian and the Chinese Grand Prix - to demonstrate their skills in motor racing's main arena: Formula One." The provisional calendar includes visits to two brand new race tracks in South Korea and Taiwan. This season Formula BMW Asia will visit Indonesia's Sentul Circuit for the first time, and the schedule also includes stops at Beijing's Goldenport race track and Bira Circuit in Thailand.

The first official test for the Formula BMW Asia 2006 season will be held on March 12 at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit, before the opening two rounds on March 19 at the same venue.

Background:

Formula BMW is the world's leading entry-level class in Formula racing. In 2006 the series will be held in Germany, the UK, Asia and the USA. Up-and- coming drivers as young as 15-years-old are given the opportunity of entering motor racing with the high-tech, standard FB02 race car.

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

In 2006, 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 Nico Rosberg.

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."

From 13th to 16th December 2005 the Bahrain International Circuit hosted the first Formula BMW World Final. Young racing drivers from the four regional Formula BMW series competed against each other. The winner Marco Holzer will get a test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

-fbmw.asia-

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Bruce McLaren , Nico Rosberg , Christian Klien , Mario Theissen , Michael Patrizi , Daniel Ricciardo , James Grunwell , Marchy Lee , Dominic Storey
Teams Sauber