Three SRFKC drivers earn Formula BMW scholarships; Matt Champagne, James Hinchcliffe and Trevor Daley shine in Spain TORONTO, ONTARIO - The Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship presented by Toronto Star Wheels has once again proven that the...
Three SRFKC drivers earn Formula BMW scholarships; Matt Champagne, James Hinchcliffe and Trevor Daley shine in Spain
TORONTO, ONTARIO - The Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship presented by Toronto Star Wheels has once again proven that the drivers that compete in the series are second to none - worldwide. Four series regulars, 2002 Formula Senior Champion and Sunoco Ultra 94 team driver Matt Champagne, five time Rotax Max race winner James Hinchcliffe, Formula Senior driver Trevor Daley and Canada Senior multi time race winner Marco Di Leo were all selected by BMW to travel to Valencia, Spain last week to compete in the worldwide Formula BMW scholarship tryouts.
The Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship drivers faced off with 20 other drivers from around the world, some with household last names like Rahal and Unser. There were only six scholarships available and amazingly three of them went to Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship drivers. Champagne, Hinchcliffe and Daley each earned a $40,000 (US) Formula BMW scholarships for use in the inaugural North American Formula BMW championship in 2004.
Champagne was happy to be chosen, and he talked about the talent level of the tryouts. "Out of the 24 that were there, four of the five Canadians were drivers from the Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship - that alone says something about the series," Champagne said. "The talent level for the tryout was very high, especially from Columbia and Brazil - Michel Jourdain's (Team Rahal driver in the CART series) cousin was there! For three of us from the Sunoco Ron Fellows series to earn scholarships, it just shows the level of talent and professionalism in the Sunoco Ron Fellows series."
Hinchcliffe felt the 'Canadian knowledge' off the track really helped. "This proves that Canada - and in particular the Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship knows how to train drivers. In that series, we are exposed to the media and series sponsors, where we learn about the off track side of racing. That training really helped at the tryout. I think the BMW guys saw the potential in all the Canadian drivers and that's why we were picked."
Daley had never sat in a race car before competing at the tryout, and he too came home with a scholarship, lending testament to the series producing top drivers that are ready to step straight into a professional car racing career.
"Because of the professionalism of the Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting championship - the way it is run - and being able to race against the top drivers, it is a very good baseline for moving up," Daley said. "All of us from the series shared information at the tryout. During the second part of the tryout, we switched cars and I got the one Matt had earlier. Talking to Matt about it and having Dan Di Leo there timing us really helped."
Ron Fellows was overjoyed at the performance of the Canadian drivers. "This is a huge feather in the cap for our series and major partner Sunoco. This is what the series was designed to do - to prepare drivers to make the most of these kinds of opportunities. I am really happy for Matt, James and Trevor. We know how good our Canadian drivers are -both on and off he track - and these scholarship awards have now verified that. As the series continues to attract growing corporate support, others will soon be able to follow in Matt's, James' and Trevor's footsteps."
The three drivers will now have some time to finalize their plans for 2004, but being part of the North American BMW Junior team is a huge boost to their career hopes as Champagne pointed out. "Being under the BMW banner means a lot to all three of us. It means that they, like Sunoco and Ron Fellows are serious about taking Canadians to the top levels of the sport."
The objective of the SRFKC is to help foster a professional environment for kart drivers; help create a positive attitude towards appearance, conduct and discipline; help foster the employment of the best practices for the safe and fair running of competitions; and help kart drivers to move up the racing ladder to automobile racing.