THE CANADIAN FACTOR IN THE FORMULA BMW USA CHAMPIONSHIP Woodcliff Lake, NJ - January 25, 2006-- Canadian race car drivers have made an impact on the world of motorsport. Not only famous names as Jacques Villeneuve with the BMW Sauber F1 Team are...
THE CANADIAN FACTOR IN THE FORMULA BMW USA CHAMPIONSHIP
Woodcliff Lake, NJ - January 25, 2006-- Canadian race car drivers have made an impact on the world of motorsport. Not only famous names as Jacques Villeneuve with the BMW Sauber F1 Team are competing in the top leagues of racing, but also the next generation of young Canadian racers continues to succeed in one the world's leading entry-level classes in Formula racing, the Formula BMW USA championship.
Formula BMW USA can look back on two sensational seasons in which talented young Canadians made a substantial contribution to the success of the championship.
In its first season Junior driver James Hinchcliffe (18) of Oakville, Ontario won the 2004 Formula BMW USA Rookie of the Year title. "Being a Canadian racing in Formula BMW USA was fantastic," Hinchcliffe stated. "Obviously there are far more Americans in the series so it was nice to be one of the few to represent Canada and bring some success." In 2005 the youngster raced in the Star Mazda Series finishing third in the Overall Championship.
The Champ Car Atlantic Championship is all new for Hinchcliffe in 2006 and he takes stock of his previous successes, "Formula BMW USA was such a good springboard into professional motorsport because we were put in front of the right people to be noticed. Considering Canada's relatively small population, it produces a very high number of racing talents. Every year another driver from Canada finds success. I am glad that I was one of them and look forward to seeing what Canadians can do in the motorsport scene in the coming years."
In its second year, the Formula BMW USA championship announced three Canadian scholarship recipients out of six: Kevin Lacroix (16) of Saint-Eustache, Quebec; Robert Wickens (16) of Toronto, Ontario; and Adrien Herberts (16) of Coquitlam, British Columbia. The young Canadian guns competed very successfully in 2005: Lacroix won the runner-up title, followed by Wickens finishing third in the Overall and Rookie point standings.
Additionally, Robert Wickens won the invitational Formula BMW race at the Race of Champions in Paris, France and competed in the inaugural Formula BMW World Final in Bahrain. At the Bahrain International Circuit the youngster showed impressive speed in four days of competition. Despite having to start from the back of the field, he passed 21 competitors in the World Final race to finish sixth.
Afterwards he was offered the chance to become the first Canadian ever to join the Red Bull Junior Team. "Being the first Canadian to be a part of the Red Bull Junior Team really means a lot to me," stated Robert. "Canada has a lot of really talented up-and-coming drivers and for me to be chosen is a real honor. I hope to make Canada proud!"
Wickens will return to the Formula BMW USA championship in 2006 as a Formula BMW Scholarship recipient and member of the Red Bull Junior Team. "I think that Formula BMW is the best development series for young racers coming out of karting," said Wickens. "With its Education and Coaching Program it is the only series in the world that actually helps to develop the best racers possible. I'm sure I will use what I have learned from this program for many years to come."
With the decision to sign Canadian Jacques Villeneuve to the new BMW Sauber F1 Team, BMW selected one of the truly eminent representatives in the world of motorsport. The reasons why Canada produces such good open-wheel race car drivers is difficult to explain for the passionate Formula One pilot, "I am not sure, but perhaps it's because of growing up always doing motocross, skiing and that stuff. Since I was five years old I was racing cars, and then I had no other choice, but to make sure I would be good enough to be successful."
Regarding the success of the Canadians in the Formula BMW USA championship Villeneuve stated, "I don't know them personally, but it's good that there is a series that can allow younger people to start racing, to get out of go-karts and to move to the next level. There is not just one road to success. There are many different roads and you have to take the opportunities where they are."
The road many young Canadian racers are taking is Formula BMW USA and they are finding that their natural talent combined with one of the world's most unique entry-level open wheel racing championships is fast making them hot properties as they climb the world motorsports ladder.
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.
The FB02 race car has been seen on the grid since 2002 and has set standards particularly on the safety technology front. The single-seater is powered by a 140 bhp BMW engine, reaching speeds up to 140 mph 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 (Head and Neck Support) safety system is also mandatory.
In 2006, Formula BMW will occur five times as a support series to Formula One races. All of the international series offer a multifaceted Education and Coaching Program as well as sponsorship for promising racing talents. The best-known alumni 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 Program we have designed specially for them, they learn everything they need to know to hold their own in the world of motor racing. Formula BMW has become one of the top entry- level classes for Formula racing worldwide."
On December 13 to 16, 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.