For the Chinese racing driver Ho-Pin Tung a dream will become a reality. The 20-year-old dominated the inaugural Formula BMW Asia Championship in 2003 and in recognition has been awarded a Formula One test drive. Tung claimed twelve pole positions and ten wins in 14 races during the course of the season, which spanned five countries. As part of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team's winter testing programme, he will drive a Formula One car for the first time.
"We have been watching Ho-Pin Tung carefully," notes BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "He was the outstanding driver of the 2003 Asian Formula BMW series. In his Formula One test, he will be compared to other promising young drivers." Last year, the winner of the German Formula BMW ADAC Championship, Nico Rosberg (FIN), was given the same Formula One test opportunity and made a very good impression. "Formula One isn't always part of the Formula BMW programme," adds Theissen, "But in individual cases we use the connection between our involvement in talent promotion and the top level of motor racing."
Tung began karting at the age of 14 and entered his first car race four years later. He comes from Wenzhou, 500 kilometres south of Shanghai, but grew up in the Netherlands together with his younger brother. Tung has had a very international education and speaks five langauges. Away from motor racing, he enjoys his computer and his mountain bike in equal measure. He drove for Team Meritus in the 2003 Formula BMW Asia. Tung turns 21 on December 4th.
"Nobody can imagine what this opportunity means to me," said Ho-Pin Tung when he was informed of the offer of a test drive on Sunday at the final race of the season in Beijing. "It's my lifetime dream come true, I can't be grateful enough. I'm now going to work hard, particularly on my physical fitness, to be well prepared for the test," he promised.
It won't be an easy transition for the young Chinese driver. The Formula BMW car, internationally the most innovative vehicle of its class in terms of safety technology as well, is powered by a 140 horsepower BMW motorcycle engine. BMW's Formula One engine has an output of more than 900 bhp.
Formula BMW Asia made its debut in 2003. 14 races took place over seven race weekends in five countries. China played host twice, likewise Malaysia, where the young racing drivers also competed against the backdrop of the Formula One Grand Prix. Japan, Korea and Thailand were the other host countries.