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BMW is happy with series launch 24 Mar 2003

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams BMW FW25 
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 7 March 2003

Formula One engine supplier BMW launched its Formula BMW single seater series in Asia over the weekend of the Malaysian Grand Prix, and was delighted with the opening two races.

The 10 lap events attracted 17 cars, and Hong Kong sensation Ho-Pin Tung stamped his authority on both events with dominant flag-to flag victories from pole position in his Meritus Racing car run by expatriate Briton Peter Thompson.

Behind him, however, the racing was fast a furious, with Natthapong Horthorthhongkum (Three Crowns Racing), Hanse Lin (Meritus Racing), rookie Don Pastor (Team TEC), Kyong-Ouk You (BMW Korea E-Rain Racing Team) and female racer Keiko Ihara (Team Yellow Hat) starring.

The 570kg cars use Mygale-built carbon fibre composite chassis manufactured to FIA Formula Three safety levels, and are powered by 140 bhp BMW K1200RS 1200cc motorcycle engines mated to six-speed Hewland FTR transaxles. The series was introduced in Germany last year, where it attracts fields of 30 or more cars, and may come to Britain in 2004.

"I think we can be very happy with these opening races," BMW Motorsport director Dr Mario Thiessen said, "especially as none of the drivers had really sat in their cars prior to the weekend. Both races had lots of genuine racing, and interest throughout Asia is running high."