Rahal Letterman Racing To Assume Management of Formula BMW
Continuing to build upon a long and storied racing tradition, Rahal Letterman Racing announces today that the Ohio-based team will assume the management of the Formula BMW Americas series beginning on January 1, 2009.
The world’s leading entry-level open-wheel racing series, Formula BMW provides young drivers with a safe, competitive and challenging car in which to hone their skills, while giving the youngsters exposure to many of the world top circuits and events. In 2008 the three Formula BMW series: Formula BMW Europe, Formula BMW Pacific and Formula BMW Americas, competed in the key motorsport markets of Europe and pan-Asia as well as in North and South America.
Today’s announcement means that a single team will both partner with BMW of North America in the American Le Mans Series with its two BMW M3 racers and oversee the Formula BMW series in America.
“We are pleased to have found in Rahal Letterman Racing a professional, well integrated partner with great experience in US motorsport,” commented BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. “The Formula BMW races held in support of the ALMS will generate synergy effects in terms of PR, marketing and logistics. Lapwing Management already set the bar high last year as far as the organization of the series is concerned, and we thank them warmly for their work. The concept is also proving a success from a sporting perspective, as demonstrated not least by Alexander Rossi. The US driver recently backed up his Formula BMW Americas title triumph with victory in the Formula BMW World Final. We are hoping that the expansion of the race calendar into Mexico as part of the World Touring Car Championship event there will further increase interest from all the Americas in the line-up for 2009.”
Four Formula BMW graduates, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock, were among the 20 drivers lining up in Formula One in 2008. Test and reserve drivers Christian Klien, Sébastien Buemi and Nicolas Hülkenberg added three more to the tally. In the US, IndyCar GP of St. Petersburg winner Graham Rahal was among the list of FBMW graduates that were racing competitively in American open-wheel series after having cut their teeth in the BMW FB02 racer.
“Formula BMW has long produced one of the finest entry-level open-wheel racing series in the world, and Rahal Letterman Racing is proud and excited about forging this new partnership with the series,” said Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal. “We saw first-hand when my son Graham competed in the series that Formula BMW offers the complete package for the young driver, providing an affordable series with a level playing field that still exposes the drivers and teams to high-profile events and challenging circuits. When you add those benefits to the proven stewardship and support of BMW Motorsport, Formula BMW is easily the best choice for the young drivers that aspire to the higher levels of the sport.”
One of the top entry-level open-wheel cars in the world, the FB02is powered by a 140 hp BMW engine that takes it to a top speed of up to 145 mph. It ranks among the safest vehicles in its category and exceeds the FIA safety regulations that govern this class of car. Innovations such as the FORS (Formula Rescue Seat) were developed by BMW Motorsport specifically for Formula BMW. Following Formula One, Formula BMW was the first single-seater series outside the US in which the HANS (head-and-neck-restraint system) system was made mandatory.
“With our worldwide Formula BMW concept, we offer drivers and teams a platform which, in this format, is unprecedented in a junior series and which allows them to benefit from our Formula One involvement,” continued Dr. Theissen. “Through Formula BMW the drivers are equipped with the tools they need to assert themselves successfully in the world of professional motor racing.”
Rossi’s victory in this year’s Formula BMW World Final in Mexico City represents the first time in the history of Formula BMW that a Formula BMW Americas champion has also won the annual showpiece of the Formula BMW season. Rossi’s success earned him a test in a BMW Sauber F1 Team car. A season review of the 2008 Formula BMW Americas championship is scheduled to be broadcast on Speed TV on Dec. 28th, 6:00 pm ET.
2009 Formula BMW Americas schedule:
March 20-22 Puebla (MX, WTCC)
May 15-17 Miller Motorsports Park (US, ALMS)
July 17-18 Lime Rock Park (US, ALMS)
August 14-16 Road America (US, ALMS)
August 28-30 Mosport International Raceway (CN, ALMS)
October 16-18 Brazilian Grand Prix (BR, F1)