PAC: Three drivers awarded scholarships

Three Scholarships Awarded to Formula BMW Pacific. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- Three talented drivers with one common goal -- to become a champion racing driver -- have jump-started their single-seater careers by winning a coveted Junior ...

Three Scholarships Awarded to Formula BMW Pacific.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- Three talented drivers with one common goal -- to become a champion racing driver -- have jump-started their single-seater careers by winning a coveted Junior scholarships for the 2010 Formula BMW Pacific season.

Australians Jesse Dixon (17) and Jordan Oon (19), and Kotaro Sakurai (15) of Japan, each impressed the BMW Motorsport instructors during last year's 2010 Scholarship Trials at Sepang International Circuit with their determination to succeed, willingness to learn, and their natural abilities.

Formula BMW Pacific has a tradition of attracting drivers from Australia, and both Dixon and Oon will be looking to emulate the success of fellow countryman Daniel Ricciardo, a Junior in 2006 and reigning British Formula 3 Champion who made headlines last month with a spectacular Formula 1 test.

BMW Motorsport has confirmed that promoting junior racing drivers remains an important part of its realigned programme. BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen, has always kept a keen eye on this formula which has produced many current Formula One drivers such as Sebastian Vettel. His comment on the series as it goes into season three was:

"Our long-term, international concept to promote juniors is proving its value more and more: this year's Formula One line-up currently features seven regular drivers who started their professional career in Formula BMW. And there are no signs of the success ending there: many more Formula BMW graduates caught the eye in Formula One cars at the so-called "Formula One Young Driver Days" in Jerez last December. The 2010 Formula BMW Europe and Formula BMW Pacific series will once again see nine promising youngsters from six countries benefit from our established sponsorship programme as 'Formula BMW Juniors'. This scheme includes financial support and an invitation to participate in our seasonal Education and Coaching Programme."

He continues: "Two of them have already picked up their first titles in international motorsport having been crowned 'Rookie of the Year' in last year's Formula BMW Americas and Formula BMW Europe, the remaining seven stood out from the crowd and impressed the experienced instructors at our scholarship courses. I am certain that this year's line-up will produce at least one driver who will make it to the top of motorsport over the course of his career -- as has been the case with practically every year in the past."

Like many young drivers, Dixon developed a love for motorsport through karting, after being introduced to it by his late father. Said the Queensland native, who will compete with Atlantic Racing Team: "I became interested with motorsport because of my dad, it was our father-son thing. At the age of 12, I lost him to cancer, but he left me the greatest gift of all by setting the path and the beginning towards my dream of becoming a Formula 1 World Champion. He has made me extremely determined and focused to succeed in my racing career."

After graduating from karting, Dixon moved into Formula Ford and this year will make his international debut with Formula BMW Pacific. To prepare for the upcoming season, Dixon has been working on his fitness levels, both physically and mentally, and hopes his hard work will pay off when he climbs into the FB02 for his first race at the 2010 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.

Like Dixon, Sakurai is also eagerly awaiting the start of the 2010 season. The Tokyo native becomes just the third Japanese driver to be awarded a Formula BMW Pacific scholarship, and will contest his debut season with Eurasia Motorsport.

"I was really surprised and very happy to hear the news that I had been awarded a scholarship," Sakurai said. "I'm very proud to start my career off as a Formula BMW Junior. I think this is the best way to reach my ultimate goal of Formula 1 as many of the young Formula 1 drivers got their start in Formula BMW."

Sakurai began karting at the age of nine, first in Japan and then in Australia, where he competed in Queensland and on the Gold Coast. By 2008, he was back training and competing in Japan. The following year, Sakurai had his first taste of single-seaters when he contested four races of Formula West in Shanghai.

"It all started when I was nine years old," Sakurai said. "I would watch Formula 1 on television and the races had a very big impact on me. The high-speeds, the excitement and the beautiful racing cars all made me crazy for motorsport, and I'm really excited to be a part of it now."

Oon, the final of the three Juniors to be announced, discovered he had been awarded a Formula BMW Pacific scholarship three days before Christmas.

Asked if the news was his favourite Christmas gift, the University of Melbourne engineering student joked: "That's a tough one as it came up against some competition in the form of a new iPod! But seriously, yes, the scholarship was the greatest Christmas present I received. Not only did it bring a perfect end to 2009, but it has also given me a lot of energy, focus and optimism heading in to 2010!"

Oon began karting aged 12 in his native Perth, Australia. Upon graduating from karts, Oon raced for two years in Formula Ford, finishing ninth in the 2008 West Australia State series and then fifth in 2009's Victoria State Formula Ford Fiesta Series. The 2010 Formula BMW Pacific season will be his first competition outside Australia.

"I feel quietly confident going into the season," Oon said. "Not only has pre-season testing been quite satisfactory, but I'm in the best physical condition of my life. Last year was quiet in terms of racing, so I have been able to hit the gym, get on my bike, and so I head into this season fully prepared for the physical requirements of racing. Of course, there are added pressures that come with the opportunity of being a Formula BMW Junior, but these all just add to the challenge and also the appeal of the season."

Many of the region's most promising young drivers attended the 2010 Formula BMW Pacific Scholarship Trials last September in the hopes of impressing the BMW Motorsport coaches with their natural potential and willingness to learn, but the experience also served as a means to learn the fundamentals of motorsport.

"The Scholarship Trials were a great experience," Dixon said. "I learned a lot about driving, from cornering techniques to race start procedures. I would recommend the Trials to any young karter or formula driver. I couldn't be more happy than to be part of Formula BMW Pacific Junior programme, and I'm looking forward to returning their faith in me with some strong performances in 2010!"

In past years, Formula BMW has proven to be the ideal springboard into the world of Formula One for many drivers. Last season alone, five former BMW drivers lined up in this series -- and with great success. Nico Rosberg (DE), Timo Glock (DE), Adrian Sutil (DE) and Sebastien Buemi (CH) all scored World Championship points. Sebastian Vettel (DE) even celebrated four Grand Prix victories and finished the season as runner-up in the Drivers' Championship, behind Jenson Button (GB). Nicolas Hulkenberg (DE) and Bruno Senna (BR) will join the quintet in 2010 as regular F1 drivers. A number of other Formula BMW graduates can also hope to get a taste of Formula One as test and reserve drivers.

The 2010 Formula BMW Pacific season will get underway from April 2-4 in support of the 2010 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.

-source: fbmw pac

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Series Formula BMW
Drivers Jenson Button , Timo Glock , Sebastian Vettel , Bruno Senna , Adrian Sutil , Sébastien Buemi , Mario Theissen , Daniel Ricciardo , Jordan Oon , Jesse Dixon , Kotaro Sakurai