FORMULA BMW USA AWARDS FIVE JUNIOR SCHOLARSHIPS FOR 2007 SEASON Woodcliff Lake, NJ - September 27, 2006-- BMW of North America, LLC announced today the names of the five young drivers that will be awarded a 2007 Formula BMW USA Junior scholarship.
FORMULA BMW USA AWARDS FIVE JUNIOR SCHOLARSHIPS FOR 2007 SEASON
Woodcliff Lake, NJ - September 27, 2006-- BMW of North America, LLC announced today the names of the five young drivers that will be awarded a 2007 Formula BMW USA Junior scholarship. Each will receive $40,000 towards participation in the 2007 Formula BMW USA championship and automatic free enrollment in Formula BMW USA Education and Coaching Program.
Returning from the two-day scholarship shoot-out held at the Formula BMW Racing Center at the Circuit de la Communitat in Valencia, Spain on September 18 and 19 are Ian Costa (17), of Danville, Calif.; Timothy Hollowell (17), of Indianapolis, Ind.; Eric Morrow (17), of Indianapolis, Ind. and Jeffrey Petriello (18), of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
The fifth scholarship was awarded to Daniel Morad (16), of Markham, Ontario, Canada. As the 2006 Rookie Champion, Morad will receive a Junior scholarship for 2007 and return for a second year with Formula BMW USA.
While Morad had proven himself in this season's championship, the four new Junior drivers were selected during a competition held between 18 young drivers invited back to Valencia from three previous Formula BMW USA licensing courses held in July and August.
The program culminated with two evaluation sessions where all drivers were scored by four instructors, including BMW Touring Car drivers Dirk and Joerg Mueller, Formula BMW USA driving coach Peter Argetsinger and Formula BMW Racing Center Coordinator Mike Strotmann. During the sessions, the instructors provided feedback while keeping an expert eye out for those who had the potential to wear the BMW Junior colors and race in the distinctive BMW Motorsport livery. Each driver had the opportunity to demonstrate his driving expertise while receiving professional instructions in the basic theory and practical requirements of Formula BMW, with the instructors placing greater value on each candidate's progress curve than their initial ability.
The five young men awarded with a 2007 Formula BMW USA scholarship will join a select group of very talented Formula BMW USA Junior alumni. Since Formula BMW began in North America in 2004, 16 young men have competed as Juniors and set a high standard as they have continued their racing careers.
The 2006 season Juniors David Garza, Maxime Pelletier, Robert Thorne, Jordan Dick and Robert Wickens continued the strong performance of the 2004 and 2005 groups of Formula BMW USA Juniors with Wickens winning the overall title.
2004 Junior James Hinchcliffe won the inaugural Formula BMW USA Rookie title. Along with fellow Junior Graham Rahal, he went on to race in the Star Mazda Series in 2005. Both moved up to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Series this year where Rahal finished second and Hinchcliffe tenth in driver points.
In 2005, the top-four finishers in both the Overall Championship and in the Rookie point standings were Formula BMW USA Juniors with the Overall and Rookie title won by Junior driver Richard Philippe. Philippe joined the Atlantic Series in 2006 finishing 15th in the points. Runner-up Kevin Lacroix has raced in Star Mazda Series in 2006 where he currently stands second in points. Third-place finisher in 2005, Robert Wickens, received a 2006 Formula BMW USA scholarship and returned for a second year with the series where he clinched the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship. 2005 fellow Juniors Reed Stevens and Adrien Herberts also decided to return to Formula BMW USA in 2006. They finished third and 12th in the Overall points respectively.
Other 2004 Junior drivers who successfully climbed up the ladder in motorsport are Tom Milner and Jonathan Summerton. Milner, who raced a BMW Team PTG M3 in the Rolex Sports Car Series in 2005, is racing a Panoz in the 2006 American Le Mans Series. Summerton raced in the Formula BMW Germany in 2005 and is now competing in the highly-competitive F3 Euro Series where he currently stands 13th.
The BMW Junior program continues to be one of the hallmarks of BMW's commitment to motorsport by providing young drivers with the best start possible into motorsport by training them to the highest possible levels, drawing on the vast expertise and experience of BMW Motorsport. Beginning in 1977, the BMW Junior program has been instrumental in providing an excellent foundation for many young drivers, among them Marc Surer, Eddie Cheever, Manfred Winkelhock and Sebastian Vettel. Underlining BMW's commitment to the discovery and grooming of future young talent, the scholarship shoot-out has been designed so that the most talented drivers, rather than the most financially healthy, succeed.