New Zealand's Amazing Motorsport Run Continues
For Immediate Release 17-11-03
NEW ZEALAND'S AMAZING MOTORSPORT RUN CONTINUES
New Zealand's amazing run on the international motor racing stage has continued with confirmation this morning that young Hamilton driver Chris Vander Drift will compete in the 2004 Formula BMW ADAC single-seater motor racing series in Europe. The inking of the deal - with former World champion Keke Rosberg's Neudstadt, Germany, team - comes hot on the heels of news that fellow former Kart star James Cressey is testing this week for a Swiss Formula Renault V6 Eurocup team in Italy and just weeks after the country's top Kart racer, Aucklander Wade Cunningham, won the World Kart Championship title at Sarno in Italy.
Six-time New Zealand and six-time North Island KartSport champion Vander Drift, 17, left New Zealand to further his motorsport career at the beginning of the year, living with family in Holland and working with a Formula Ford team in Sweden.
In August he attended a BMW ADAC racing school in Valencia Spain where he earned his International Grade C motor racing licence.
Impressed by his ability and maturity on and off the track the organisers invited him to apply for a place on a scholarship programme run by BMW and ADAC at the Valencia track.
There he did it again, easily making the final 21, then the final eight.
Motor vehicle manufacturer BMW and technical/admin organisation ADAC (like a cross between the AA and MotorSport NZ) have been running motorsport-based scholarship programmes of one sort or another since the 1970s (Williams Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher got his career start this way) but last year they launched a brand new initiative, the international Formula BMW championship.
The aim of the championship is to bridge the gap between Karts and Formula 1 feeder classes like Formula 3 and Formula 3000 and growth has been exponential. This year there were two main championships, the 'host' one in Germany and a new one in Asia.
Next year these two are being joined by two more, one in the US and the UK.
Though budgets are high - the Vander Drift family is currently working hard trying to find sponsorship investment to cover the 250,000 Euros they believe their son's campaign will cost - the scholarship their son has earned is worth 50,000 Euro.
The managing director of Team Rosberg, Arno Zensen, says that Vander Drift driver made a big impression on everyone in the team when he first tested for them and that he was an obvious choice when the time came round to deciding who was going to drive for the team in 2004.
BMW and ADAC put considerable time and effort into promoting the Formula BMW ADAC championship which shares the bill at all the big German meetings over the Northern Hemisphere summer with the German Formula 3 championship and the DTM (German Touring Car Championship).
The cars are state-of-the-art carbon-fibre-tub 'wings-and-slicks' single-seaters with inboard suspension front and rear and a liquid-cooled DOHC/16-valve four cylinder BMW K-series (motorcycle) engine mated to a 6-speed Formula 3-type sequential gearbox.
After such a promising year last year, and with new championship series starting up in Europe and the US, there is already significant media interest in the 2004 series.
This was fuelled last week by the announcement that a 19-year-old Columbian had expressed interest in competing.
His name? Federico Montoya, younger brother of BMW Williams Formula 1 driver Juan-Pablo Montoya!