AP: 2007 scholarship trials pre-race notes

Bumper entry for Formula BMW Asia 2007 scholarship trials. Sakhir, Bahrain (February 28, 2007) -- More than 20 fledgling racing drivers will meet at the BMW Performance Centre in Bahrain this weekend for one of the first major contests of their...

Bumper entry for Formula BMW Asia 2007 scholarship trials.

Sakhir, Bahrain (February 28, 2007) -- More than 20 fledgling racing drivers will meet at the BMW Performance Centre in Bahrain this weekend for one of the first major contests of their motorsport careers, and a chance to earn one of five coveted Formula BMW Asia Scholarships.

The youngsters are all aged between 15 and 20, and hail from every corner of the Asia Pacific Region and beyond.

From Southeast Asia come Kanit Kuevibulvanich of Thailand, Kim Jun-Tae of Korea, and three entries from Indonesia; Ryan Monoarfa, Ryan Haryanto and Kenny Kartasasmita.

Chinese hopefuls David Zhu, the youngest participant at just 15, and Lin Ping-Yung join Fung Kin Hei, Ross Jamison and Kalson Chan from the Hong Kong SAR.

The two Japanese entries are Ryuichi Nara and Shohei Shiromoto, while Omer Younas is the sole contender from Pakistan.

No doubt hoping to follow in the footsteps of 2006 Formula BMW Asia Champion Earl Bamber, fellow Kiwi and New Zealand kart Champion Ben Dallas will be trying his luck this weekend. Formula BMW Asia organisers recently held an evaluation of 15 competitors there with the co-operation and assistance of BMW New Zealand, and in partnership with the CIK Trophy of New Zealand presented by Karcher. Dallas (16) impressed the selectors to such an extent that he was chosen to participate in the scholarship trials with all expenses paid by BMW New Zealand.

Testament to the rapid development of the world's second most populous country and also perhaps as a result of its Formula 1 aspirations, India has four entrants. It is likely that Daanish Dalal, Akhil Khushlani, Cchiranjeev R.bedi, and MV Hariprasad have been inspired by the success of fellow countrymen Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok, and Armaan Ebrahim who shone during his Formula BMW Asia season in 2005, and is now also well on the way to a successful international career.

Several of the drivers hail from outside the Asia Pacific region, with Slovenian Dejan Milavec, American Johnson MacKenzie, and South Africans Alex Jacovides and Kyle Mitchell, all hoping to clinch a sought-after scholarship, each of which includes a 50.000 USD cash contribution to the cost of a full season in Formula BMW Asia (with10.000 USD earmarked for parts), plus free participation in the proven, season-long BMW Education & Coaching Programme (E&C).

The wide-ranging BMW E&C programme is the most professional of its kind available in the region, and utilises the expertise of BMW Motorsport in all areas, including driving instruction, technical knowledge, fitness and nutrition, media training, and sports management. All the tools a young driver needs to reach the very top of the sport.

The Scholarship Qualifying will include both theory and practical sessions, during which drivers will be assessed by a team of BMW Motorsport professionals.

As the series gears up for its fifth successful season, Malaysia's PETRONAS recently announced the three drivers who will compete in Formula BMW Asia this season following the conclusion of the inaugural PETRONAS Formula Xperience (PFX). Launched in May 2006, the PETRONAS PFX Racing School is a driver development programme developed by PETRONAS through its association as Premium Partner to the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Malaysians Melvin Moh Chun-Ho (18), Imran Zaharias Bin Shaharom (18), and Johan Bin Adzmi (17) were selected based on the total points accumulated over the eight PFX training session held from June to December 2006, and each will receive a scholarship from PETRONAS to contest a full season of Formula BMW Asia.

The three will be racing with a new Formula BMW Asia team, Team Holzer PFX, managed by Gunther and Ronald Holzer, whose Holzer Motorsport has experience in a number of European and North American racing series, including Formula BMW Germany.

As the young hopefuls demonstrate their skill and potential in the hope of securing a Formula BMW Asia scholarship in Bahrain this weekend, and teams and drivers across the region put the finishing touches to their seasons, so too are some of last season's series graduates.

Australian teenager Sam Abay, runner-up in the drivers' championship last year, recently announced he make the move to Europe and will drive for Team Loctite in the 2007 Formula BMW UK Championship, while 2003 Asian champion and 2006 German F3 Champion, Ho-Pin Tung, recently gave China its first A1GP podium finish.

-credit: bmw.asia

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Narain Karthikeyan , Karun Chandhok , Ho-Pin Tung , Ross Jamison , Kyle Mitchell , Shohei Shiromoto , Johan Bin Adzmi , Akhil Khushlani , Melvin Moh , David Zhu , Sam Abay , Earl Bamber , Omer Younas , Ryuichi Nara
Teams Sauber