Formula BMW Asia, the region's most exciting single seater racing series, will head to the challenging 3.86km Pasir Gudang Circuit in Johor Baru, Malaysia, on the 28th and 29th of June. The field from across Southeast Asia represents the region?s most talented racing drivers, many of whom look set for promising international motorsport careers.The Formula BMW Asia Series got underway in March, with the opening rounds held as support races for the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix. Team Meritus? Tung Ho-Pin won both rounds convincingly, making the Chinese driver a firm favourite going into Rounds 3 & 4 at the Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS), in Sepang on June 7th and 8th.
Tung emerged victorious again in Round 3, although he faced stiffer competition from team-mate Lin Po-Heng of Taiwan, marginally edging him out at the chequered flag to ensure a Meritus 1-2 finish. But round 4 ended Tung?s domination when he was forced to retire on the opening lap with mechanical failure. This paved the way for Lin to take a well-deserved victory. Keiko Ihara of Japan, one of two lady drivers in the series, kept up her excellent record of three podium finishes out of four races for Team Yellow Hat.
Heading the championship table going in to the next rounds, Tung is confident, but well aware of the challenges ahead. "I know there are many good drivers in the field," he commented. "As the series progresses and the teams and drivers become more familiar with the car, I know it's going to get tougher to keep winning races."
Flying the flag for Malaysia will be the third Meritus driver,19-year-old TJ Chin. Although Chin has not enjoyed a good season so far, he is confident that he is now more focussed and ready to raise his game. "I'm really looking forward to the next rounds," he said. "The team has been great and I want to repay them and my home crowd by doing well."
Adding glamour as well as talent to the series is Indian movie star Ajit Kumar. Despite a difficult start, he will be out to prove a point at the Pasir Gudang circuit. With a large and enthusiastic Indian following in Johor, fans will have the opportunity to catch their hero in action together with his Team India Racing teammate, 20 year-old Rajvirdhan Vijayakumar.
Truly representative of the Asian region, the Formula BMW Asia field is made up of drivers from Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and India, five of whom are recipients of Formula BMW scholarships, which provide both financial assistance and training throughout the season.
The impressive BMW single seater machine tips the scales dry (empty) at 455 kilogrames. A 140 bhp BMW four-cylinder engine based on the famous motorcycle unit propels the car to speeds of up to 230 km/h (143 mph).
The Formula BMW Asia Series runs as part of the Asia Festival of Speed (AFOS), organized by Motorsport Asia Limited. The AFOS also includes the Asian Touring Car Series, the new Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, and the Asian Formula 3 Series. This year AFOS will visit Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and China.