Sterling field prepares for spectacular new season.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- The field for the newly-titled Formula BMW Pacific more than lives up to its name with the most internationally-diverse grid so far. Drivers from no fewer than ten nations will line up for the start of the 17-round, 2008 season this weekend at the 2008 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.
The three Formula BMW Juniors, each of whom won a coveted scholarship following selection trials in Malaysia, will all be battling it out for the Rookie Cup title this season, but are also eligible for the overall Drivers title.
One of the three, Filipino-Swiss karter Marlon Stockinger, 16, will make his car racing debut this season with Eurasia Motorsport. The Philippine Senior Rotax Max Champion has already impressed his team during testing, and expectations are high for the youngster.
Stockinger will be joined on the team by Indian Aditya Patel, 19. The Chennai-born reigning JK National Racing Championship winner and Rotax Max India Champion has motor racing in his blood. His family has been involved in the sport for three generations, and Patel is also a protege of Indian racing hero Narain Karthikeyan.
Formula BMW Junior Chris Wootton of Australia, 19, has chosen multiple championship-winning team Meritus with which to make his series debut. Wootton, like Patel, be continuing his family's motorsport heritage which began back in the 1960's.
Wootton will be joined at Meritus by the only female competitor this season, South AfricanTasmin Pepper, 17. Pepper makes her Asian debut with an impressive record behind her. No doubt hoping to follow in the footsteps of Formula BMW Pacific's first South African driver, Kyle Mitchell, who won the Rookie Cup title last season, she won the South African WTP Regional Championship in 2001.
Back with Meritus for a second season is 2007 Rookie Cup runner-up Ross Jamison, 17 of Hong Kong. Last year Jamison was a strong contender to take the Rookie honours all season, but eventually just missed out on the title by six points.
Another Formula BMW Junior, Simon Moss, 16, of South Africa will be racing with new team Mahara. The son of South African motor racing champion Terry, Moss took part in his first kart race at the age of six, going on to many national championship titles in the category.
Joining Moss at Mahara will be Malaysian Arvin Roslan, 18, a graduate of the Petronas Formula Xperience.
Team E-Rain has a three-car entry this season, with an exciting international line-up of drivers. Ryuichi Nara, 19, of Japan; Pakistani racer Omer Younas, 18, and, returning for a second season, Korean-based American Sean McDonagh, 18. McDonagh finished third in the Rookie Cup last year, and is expected to be a strong contender this season.
Team Holzer PFX returns to the series following an impressive debut season last year where it finished third in the Team Classification. With an all-Malaysian line up, the pressure is on for the opening rounds to be held on their home soil. Out to impress local fans will be Imran Zaharias Shaharom and Melvin Moh, both 19, each competing in their second seasons, and newcomer Dominic Ang, 18, another Petronas Formula Xperience graduate.
In addition to Mahara, Formula BMW Pacific welcomes a second new team this season: Atlantic Racing Team (ART).
Atlantic Racing made its racing debut in 2002, and has been involved in Formula BMW Americas since its inception. The team is taking on the new challenge of Formula BMW Pacific with Colombian driver Gabriel Chaves.
Chaves began his racing career in karts at the age of 11, and won his first national title at just 12. He has since notched up countless karting victories and titles, making the move to single seater racing last year and winning the Skip Barber 2007 Scholarship 50-driver shoot-out.
-credit: fbmw pac