BMW Motorsport is stepping up its Formula BMW Asia program as it recently announced a prize worth US-Dollars 200,000 for its 2005 Formula BMW Asia champion, in addition to the four BMW Scholarships which are up now up for grabs, each worth US Dollar 50,000 plus a year-long comprehensive Education & Coaching Programme. The fifth BMW Scholarship worth another US Dollar 50,000 is automatically awarded to the Rookie Cup champion of the previous season.

The new championship prize is a full season in the Formula BMW UK series, giving Asia's finest youngster the opportunity to compete against his or her European counterparts and on British race tracks, a key advantage for drivers looking to continue their racing careers there.

"We are delighted to offer the 2005 Formula BMW Asia champion a full season in the UK series as part of our strong commitment to nurturing talented, young Asian drivers and guiding them to a successful motorsport career," said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen.

Qualifying trials for the four available BMW Scholarships will be held on January 9 and 10, 2005 in Bahrain, and are open to all Asian drivers aged between 15 and 21, and with no previous international racing experience. Series organizers, Malaysian-based Motorsport Asia Limited, have already received a flood of inquiries from across the region.

In 2005, Formula BMW Asia will again support two rounds of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship - in Bahrain in April and Shanghai at the end of the year. The series will begin its season in the Middle East before moving to Malaysia, Japan, Korea, China and will make its debut in Australia this year.

The Education and Coaching Program, provided to the BMW Scholarship drivers and available to all Formula BMW Asia competitors, is unique in that it offers the most professional and far-reaching motorsport training program available in the region.

The course, which is available to all series drivers and is provided free of charge to the five BMW scholarship drivers each year, provides everything from a tailor-made fitness program where the drivers' progress is monitored throughout the season and continually updated to enhance performance, driver tuition, and technical briefings to media, sports management and sponsorship training.

Formula BMW has national series running in Germany, the UK, and the USA as well as Asia, and can count amongst its graduates Formula 1 drivers Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien and Timo Glock. Newly-crowned Formula BMW Asia Champion Marchy Lee will be joined by last year's series winner, Tung Ho Pin in the prestigious Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix this November, along with another Formula BMW graduate, up-and-coming youngster Nico Rosberg.

Formula BMW Asia is truly representative of the Asian region with drivers from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Morocco and Bahrain competing in the series in 2004.

The ultra-modern Formula BMW, powered by a 140 bhp BMW motorcycle engine that takes it up to 230 km/h, and allows 15-year-olds to enter the world of motor racing, has been lining up on the grid since the 2002 season. It sets standards above all on the safety technology front with features such as a carbon-fibre chassis, FORS (Formula Rescue Seat), the mandatory HANS (Head and Neck Support) system, the front and rear crash box and head restraint. These features make Formula BMW one of the safest single seater entry level racing series in the world.