UK: Farewell to the UK Championship.

Farewell to the Formula BMW UK Championship. On his 17th Birthday, 2 September, Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport) lifted the last ever Formula BMW UK Championship trophy, to become the youngest ever UK Champion and first Rookie to win the ...

Farewell to the Formula BMW UK Championship.

On his 17th Birthday, 2 September, Marcus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsport) lifted the last ever Formula BMW UK Championship trophy, to become the youngest ever UK Champion and first Rookie to win the overall title.

Since its debut in 2004, the Formula BMW UK Championship has seen an influx of young talent rise through the ranks with a total of 103 drivers from 15 nations compete in 78 races. After 1,245 laps of racing the UK series has drawn to a close as the Championship merges with the German series to form Formula BMW Europe in 2008.

Over the past two years, the young drivers have been given a unique insight into the world of motrosport through the eyes of the series ambassador and 1992 Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell. The Formula BMW Education & Coaching Programme has also offered comprehensive advice both on and off the track, through driver coaching , media and PR tuition and health and fitness training.

The first championship got underway at Thruxton on 11 April 2004 and it was Tim Bridgman who went on to win the inaugural title on 26 September 2004. The privateer won the series by 19.5 points with three victories to his name. The Rookie Cup went to Ross Curnow who went on to compete in more races than any other driver; he made 60 starts in three seasons of the series. Carlin Motorsport won the first ever Team Trophy.

In 2005 the title also went down to the last race, but this time Sam Bird, the six- time race winner and leader going into the event, retired from the first race of the weekend at Brands Hatch. Dean Smith's two victories saw him emerge victorious as the 2005 Champion.

The 2005 season also saw the greatest winning margin and closest ever finish in the Formula BMW UK Championship. Sam Bird beat Jordan Wise to the line by just 0.068 seconds at Brands Hatch on 5 June and Wolverhampton's Dean Smith clocked up a 22.96 second lead when he took his maiden win at Knockhill on 28 August. Bird has also clocked up the most number of consecutive victories taking five out of his six wins in a row during 2005. Newcomer Euan Hankey claimed the 2005 Rookie of the Year title with one race still to run. Fortec Motorsport took their first Team Trophy which they would hold on to until the very end, winning the title in three consecutive seasons.

Ireland's Niall Breen and Fortec Motorsport dominated the 2006 Championship. Breen clocked up nine wins to become the top UK race winner of all time. He sealed the title at Knockhill on 3 September 2006 with three races remaining. Competing in his second year of Formula BMW, his impressive double win at his home race at Mondello Park, thrust him firmly into the spotlight as a contender for the title. From that point on there was no stopping the 20-year-old as he went on to finish on the podium 16 times in 20 races. His team-mate, Henry Arundel took the Rookie Cup, with eight Rookie wins and finished third overall at Snetterton on 13 August 2006.

In 2007 the Rookies gave the more experienced drivers a run for their money with an extremely close contest. Arundel, Formula BMW Germany racer Josef Kral and Ericsson all went into the final races with a chance of lifting the trophy. After Arundel spectacularly rolled out of contention in race one, Ericsson had the speed to take his seventh win of the year in race two and with it became the first Rookie to take the overall title. The young Swede has also claimed the most ever UK pole positions, with 11 in 2007.

After four successful years, with numerous records being set and broken along the way, the Formula BMW UK Championship has crowned its final Champion. The series may be gone, but its legacy will live on through the drivers as they persue their dreams of Formula One.

From 22nd - 25th November 2007 the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo in Valencia will see the return of the Formula BMW World Final. Young racing drivers from the four regional Formula BMW series will will battle it out for victory and a dream prize for every up-and-coming racing driver, a Formula 1 test with the BMW Sauber F1 Team. <pre> Formula BMW UK Championship

Year  Champion         Nat.  Rookie Cup Winner  Nat.
2004  Tim Bridgman     GBR   Ross Curnow        GBR
2005  Dean Smith       GBR   Euan Hankey        GBR
2006  Niall Breen      IRL   Henry Arundel      GBR
2007  Marcus Ericsson  SWE   Marcus Ericsson    SWE

-credit: formulabmw.co.uk

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About this article
Series Formula BMW
Drivers Nigel Mansell , Ross Curnow , Jordan Wise , Dean Smith , Sam Bird , Euan Hankey , Niall Breen , Henry Arundel , Marcus Ericsson
Teams Sauber , Carlin