With young guns from North, Central and South America as well as from Europe the 2007 Formula BMW USA championship enters its fourth season, again showcasing some of the best young talent in the world of motorsport.
Among these are five BMW Juniors who will receive a $40,000 scholarship and automatic enrollment in Formula BMW's Education and Coaching Program. The drivers who earned the 2007 scholarships include two Americans, two Canadians and one Brazilian.
From the US are Timothy Hollowell, 18, and Eric Morrow, 18, both of Indianapolis, Indiana. Coming from Canada are Daniel Morad, 16, of Coquitlam, British Columbia and Jeffrey Petriello, 18, of Montreal, Quebec. Junior scholarship winner Ian Costa declined the scholarship and the invitation was extended to the first-alternate, Ricardo Favoretto, 18, of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Favoretto did not participate in the first official test, but will line up in car number 34 at the second official test at Virginia International Raceway on April 7-8. Morad, automatically awarded with a scholarship for winning the 2006 Rookie Cup, will return for a second year of Formula BMW USA competition.
Along with Morad, eight additional young drivers returned from last year's championship for this season's first two test days. They were Canadians Philip Major, 18, of Ottawa, Ontario; Yannick Hofman, 18, of Rosemere, Quebec; and French-Canadian Maxime Pelletier, 16, of Longueuil, Quebec; as well as Americans Race Johnson, 18, of West Linn, OR; Jordan Dick, 18, of Northville, MI; and Robert Thorne, 17, of Sherman, CT. South America was represented by Colombians Sebastian Saavedra, 16; and Steven Guerrero, 17.
Additional US entrants new to Formula BMW USA included Californians Alexander Rossi, 15, of Nevada City, and Mike Hill, 17, of Gilroy, as well as Matt Ferris, 17, of Pawling, NY. With Texan Lindsey Adams, 20, of Richardson, and Julia Landauer, 15, of New York, NY two female drivers made their debut in Formula BMW USA.
International drivers testing at Road Atlanta were Esteban Gutierrez, 15, of Garza Garcia, Mexico; Ricardo Zappelini, 20, of Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Englishman Nathan Freke, 23, of Kidderminster, Great Britain.
With 20 drivers completing the first two of ten scheduled official test days, this year's championship looks set to be more exciting than ever. Ten teams were in attendance with newcomers TADD Motorsports, JD Racing and KMA, the joining of two former teams (Atlantic and KMA). The technical demanding 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit gave a first look of this year's competition with rivalries already beginning to take shape promising a season with thrilling race action and fierce competition.
Race Johnson set the fastest laps in five of the six test sessions with a best overall time of 1:25.684 minutes. With Sebastian Saavedra only 0.027 sec behind Johnson and 2006 Rookie Champion and BMW Junior Daniel Morad third quick, it was obvious that experience paid off as those top-three testers are returning from last season. New comer Mike Hill set the fourth fastest lap overall followed by Robert Thorne and Jeffrey Petriello, who showed the strongest Junior performance.
The 14-round season begins at Miller Motorsports Park on May 17-18 and then tours North America visiting some of the most famous and challenging circuits on the continent, including the Formula One races at Montreal and Indianapolis. The series finishes at Mosport International Raceway in Canada on August 24-26.
2007 Formula BMW USA Schedule
Round 1 and 2 Miller Motorsports Park May 17-18 Utah with ALMS
Round 3 and 4 Canadian Grand Prix June 8-10 Montreal, Canada with Formula 1
Round 5 and 6 United States Grand Prix June 15-17 Indiana with Formula 1
Round 7 and 8 Lime Rock Park July 6-7 Connecticut with ALMS
Round 9 and 10 San José Grand Prix July 27-29 California with Champ Car
Round 11 and 12 Road America August 9-12 Wisconsin with Champ Car/ALMS
Round 13 and 14 Mosport August 24-26 Ontario, Canada with ALMS