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Press release BoxID: 59076 (BMW AG)
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Formula BMW USA begins its third year with largest and most diverse class ever

(PresseBox) (Woodcliff Lake, NJ, ) With 25 top young racers registered for the full season and additional drivers intending to compete in two or more rounds, the Formula BMW USA championship begins its third season with the largest and most diverse class ever.
As it has in two previous years, the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship will showcase an international field of young talented race car drivers competing in one of the world's most impressive entry-level open wheel racing series.

Representing North America, Central America, South America, and Europe young drivers from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Jamaica and Italy will line up in state-of-the-art FB02s to begin their professional motorsport careers.

"For a third year, Formula BMW USA will continue to change the face of racing by introducing some of the best young talent in the world," said Alexander Schmuck, Formula BMW USA Manager. "Formula BMW USA offers its drivers challenging race tracks, a state-of-the-art race car and an advanced Education and Coaching Program - simply put, the best start possible."

Drivers who earned 2006 Formula BMW USA Junior scholarships include two Americans, two Canadians and one Mexican. From the US are Jordan Dick, 18, of Northville, Michigan, and Robert Thorne, 16, of Sherman, Connecticut. David Garza, 17, of Monterrey, Mexico upholds the honor of Central America. Born in France, but making his home in Longueuil, Quebec, Maxime Pelletier, 15, races under the Canadian flag. The fifth scholarship was awarded to Canadian Robert Wickens, 17, of Etobicoke, Ontario. A Formula BMW Junior in 2005, Wickens is the highest finishing Rookie Cup driver returning in 2006 and thus earns a second Junior scholarship.

Along with Wickens, eight more young drivers will return from last season. They are, Doug Boyer, 19, of Munster, Ind.; Matt Lee, 16, of Syosset, NY; Race Johnson, 17, of West Linn, Ore.; Californians John Zatarian, 19, of Carlsbad; Reed Stevens, 20, of Palo Alto; Jules Duc, 16, of Los Gatos; Adrien Herberts, 16, of Coquitlam, British Columbia; and Ryan Campbell, 19, of Lethbridge, Alberta.

Additional US entrants new to Formula BMW USA include Californians Ryan Phinny, 16, of Carmel Valley, who started two FBUSA races last season; Scott Schroeder, 17, of Piedmont; and Frankie Muniz, 20, of Los Angeles. Muniz, now focusing on a professional racing career, is best known as a film and Emmy nominated television actor.

International drivers competing in their first Formula BMW USA season are Joel Jackson, 19, of Jamaica; Canadians Daniel Morad, 16, Yannick Hofman 17, and Philip Major, 17; Colombians Sebastian Saavedra, 15, and Steven Guerrero, 16; and Brazilian Marco Santos, 23. Simona De Silvestro, 17, the second female ever to race in Formula BMW USA, will race under the Italian flag.

"Formula BMW USA's plan is to start drivers with the firmest foundation for a career in motorsports," adds Schmuck. "This year, not only do we begin the 2006 season with our largest field ever, but, as importantly, we have graduates racing forward. Andreas Wirth, our 2004 Champion, and Richard Philippe, last year's champion, will race in the Champ Car Atlantic Series, as well as Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and James Davison. We wish them all the best."

The fight for the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship will start with the first two Rounds at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 19-21 and will visit some of the most famous circuits on the continent, including the Formula One races at Montreal and Indianapolis, before finishing at Mosport International Raceway, in Canada, on Sept. 1-3.

2006 Formula BMW USA Entries:

No. Name Nationality Hometown

1 Robert Thorne ® American Sherman, CT
2 Frankie Muniz American Ridgewood, NJ
3 Adrien Herberts Canadian Coquitlam, British Columbia
4 Ryan Campbell Canadian Lethbridge, Alberta
5 Sebastian Saavedra ® Colombian Bogota, Colombia
6 John Zartarian American Carlsbad, CA
7 Steven Guerrero ® Colombian Lake Park, FL
8 Race Johnson American West Linn, OR
9 Yannick Hofman Canadian Rosemere, Quebec
10 Reed Stevens American Palo Alto, CA
11 Maxime Pelletier ® Canadian Longueuil, Quebec
12 Jules Duc American Los Gatos, CA
15 David Rangel Mexican Key Biscane, FL
16 Ryan Phinny American Carmel Valley, CA
19 Jordan Dick ® USA/Canada Northville, MI
21 Scott Schroeder American Piedmont, CA
22 Joel Jackson ® Jamaican Kingston, Jamaica
23 David Garza ® Mexican Monterrey, Mexico
25 Marco Santos Brazilian Blumenau, Brazil
33 Doug Boyer American Munster, IN
44 Matt Lee American Syosset, NY
49 Philip Major Canadian Ottawa, Ontario
50 Simona De Silvestro Italian/Swiss Mont sur Rolle, Switzerland
66 Robert Wickens Canadian Toronto, Ontario
70 Daniel Morad ® Canadian Markham, Ontario

® Rookie

Background:
Formula BMW is the world's leading entry-level class in Formula racing. In 2006 the series will be held in Germany, the UK, Asia and the USA. Up-and-coming drivers as young as 15-years old are given the opportunity of entering motor racing with the high-tech, standard FB02 race car.

The FB02 race car has been seen on the grid since 2002 and has set standards particularly on the safety technology front. The single-seater is powered by a 140 bhp BMW engine, reaching speeds up to 140 mph and exceeds the FIA safety requirements for its class. BMW Motorsport has developed the FORS (Formula Rescue Race Seat) especially for Formula BMW. The HANS (Head and Neck Support) safety system is also mandatory.

In 2006, Formula BMW will occur five times as a support series to Formula One races. All of the international series offer a multifaceted Education and Coaching Program as well as sponsorship for promising racing talents. The best-known alumni are Formula One drivers Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien and Nico Rosberg.

BMW Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen, "Formula BMW offers talented young drivers more than just a car. In the Education and Coaching Program we have designed specially for them, they learn everything they need to know to hold their own in the world of motor racing. Formula BMW has become one of the top entry-level classes for Formula racing worldwide."

On December 13 to 16, 2005 the Bahrain International Circuit hosted the first Formula BMW World Final. Young racing drivers from the four regional Formula BMW series competed against each other. The winner Marco Holzer will get a test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.