QUEENSLANDER - CHRIS WOOTTON - WINS FORMULA BMW PACIFIC SCHOLARSHIP BRISBANE -- February 25, 2009: 20-year-old Queenslander, Chris Wootton has been announced as one of just three drivers to be granted a $100,000-plus (AUD) scholarship to compete...
QUEENSLANDER - CHRIS WOOTTON - WINS FORMULA BMW PACIFIC SCHOLARSHIP
BRISBANE -- February 25, 2009: 20-year-old Queenslander, Chris Wootton has been announced as one of just three drivers to be granted a $100,000-plus (AUD) scholarship to compete in the Formula BMW Pacific Series that runs throughout Asia -- catapulting him into the spotlight of the leading Formula 1 teams.
The Series Chris will race in is likely to form part of at least two support events at Formula 1 Grands Prix in Asia this year. He will compete under the watchful gaze of the BMW Sauber F1 Team, along with his mentor and Australia's only current Formula 1 pilot, Red Bull F1's Mark Webber.
Chris is the only Brisbane-based driver competing in open-wheel competition throughout Asia in 2009.
After missing the first two Formula BMW Pacific rounds last year due to a licensing issue, Wootton came to grips quickly with the challenges he was faced with -- driving a race car (as opposed to a kart), new circuits, new cultures -- not to mention the excitement of driving on the same track as his Formula 1 heroes. Ultimately, he finished the Rookies Cup in second placing and the Series seventh overall.
The 2008 Series could have seen him as high as third if it wasn't for bad luck on several occasions, however with a year's experience under his belt, Chris's goal for this year is simple -- win the Championship overall.
He is one of the three second year drivers throughout the world that have been offered a participation in the Formula BMW Junior program in 2009. Chris will take a 'behind the scenes' tour of the BMW Sauber F1 Team factory in Hinwil, Switzerland with BMW Motorsport management, which is a permanent part of the Education and Coaching Program. The BMW Junior program gives Chris access to various Education and Coaching programs -- designed specifically for Formula BMW, including lectures on fitness, diet, media and sponsorship.
Chris -- from Birkdale on Brisbane's bayside -- is one of the fittest drivers to ever line up in Formula BMW competition. He finished fourth in the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge in 2008 -- ahead of many experienced adventure racers. The event was punctuated by Webber's much publicised collision with an oncoming 4WD. Wootton's family were some of the first people on the scene after Webber's accident.
Wootton himself hasn't been without incident in his career -- he was lucky to race again after a karting accident at Eastern Creek in 2007 saw him flung nearly 10 metres across the racetrack in front of competitors still at full speed, resulting in a broken collarbone and significant soft tissue damage. His comeback is testament to his superior fitness and determination to become one of Australia's leading motorsport personalities.
The car Chris will pilot -- dubbed the Formula BMW FB02 -- accelerates to 100kph in under four seconds and hits a top speed of 230kph. All cars are identical and modifications are minimal to ensure equality. Chris has been in training for the first event, coming up in early April, getting back to his roots in a kart and through his part time job as a personal trainer.
The long range plan for Chris is to make it into European open-wheel competition in 2010, before reaching the pinnacle of world motorsport -- Formula 1. The management team behind Chris has vast experience in the upper echelons of the sport and has contributed to his close relationship to Webber.
Five of the 20 current Formula 1 drivers are graduates of Formula BMW, including Webber's Red Bull F1 team-mate -- Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg (Williams), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Timo Glock (Panasonic Toyota Racing) and Sebastien Buemi (Scuderia Toro Rosso).
More details on Chris Wootton's 2009 Formula BMW Pacific campaign will be released shortly, including confirmation of the team he will chase the Championship with.
BEHIND THE HELMET -- CHRIS WOOTTON:
"I'm stoked to be chosen as one of the three second year Formula BMW Junior drivers worldwide, it's humbling and a real honour. Formula BMW Pacific is a brilliant Series and provides arguably the best entry level to 'wings and slicks' racing anywhere in the world.
"The cars are fantastic to drive and the program really gives you the opportunity to expose yourself to those that matter in Formula 1. Dr. Thiessen (Director, BMW Motorsport) appears to take a personal interest in Formula BMW and when we are at Formula 1 events, we present in front of him and the BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers as part of the program.
"It's a top program and not only am I racing at some of the best events in the world, I travel to places I otherwise wouldn't get to see and experience those cultures.
"Our objective for the season is pretty simple -- and that's take out the Championship. I finished on the podium several times throughout 2008 and want to be up there regularly. If it wasn't for some bad luck, we would have been further up in the Championship in 2008, but that's motor racing.
"From round one, we're aiming to be on the pace and in a winning position. Regular race wins will be tough -- there are some great competitors out there, but that's what we have to do to meet our objectives and show BMW they made the correct decision by picking me to be part of the Junior Program."