Junior Open Wheel Talent

News and Views on Drivers Chasing Open-Wheel Stardom

Archive for the ‘ Formula BMW ’ Category

BMW to create Formula BMW Talent Cup

Posted July 13, 2010 at 8:45 am Formula BMW Comments

Last week, BMW Motorsport announced that they plan to drop their Formula BMW race series and start the Formula BMW Talent Cup.  Here is a blurb from the BMW Motorsport website:

The Formula BMW Talent Cup concept has two aims: to offer young racing drivers a comprehensive education and to prepare them for a professional career in motorsport. The target group are talented young drivers aged 14 and above, bringing the Formula BMW Talent Cup even closer to the junior base in karting than the current Formula BMW series. The Formula BMW FB02 will continue to be used as the race vehicle centrally operated by BMW Motorsport.

Essentially, the new talent cup will be a training program for drivers graduating from the karting ranks rather than a racing series.  The program will last one-year.  At the end of the training regimen, BMW will select one driver and fund their campaign during the next season.  With BMW financing the season, it’s likely that they will select the designated rung.  Right now the website just states, “the greatest talent will win a season in an appropriate higher race series.”

The FBMW Talent Cup is limited to 15 participants and the cost is 100,000 Euros each.

Final Thoughts:  It’s nice to see the FB02s put to use but I have a feeling there will be a ton of them just collecting dust somewhere — which is a shame.  As for the Talent Cup itself, I think it has a lot of potential.  I like the ideology and the cost is much lower than BMW’s previous programs, which means they may have learned something.  I also like the fact that they are limiting enrollment to kids without car experience, so a driver’s development will accurately stand-out at the end of the season.  The success of the program will likely depend on how fairly it is run.

I always enjoy hearing from others, so please feel free to add a comment.


Michael Lewis to Formula BMW Europe

Posted December 22, 2009 at 11:53 am Formula BMW, Signing Comments

Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis has signed with Team U.S. Formula Project to compete in the 2010 Formula BMW Europe series.

Lewis spent the 2009 season in the Formula BMW-Americas series where he finished 4th overall and captured the ‘Rookie Cup’.  He also spent some time running karts and USAC Ford Focus midgets in 2009.

Following the 2009 season, Lewis was awarded an $80,000 scholarship from BMW to apply towards the 2010 Formula BMW Europe series.

I was very impressed with Lewis last season and look forward to watching his development this year in Formula BMW Europe.

Michael Christensen and Timmy Hansen (Mucke Motorsport Drivers)

Michael Christensen and Timmy Hansen (Mucke Motorsport Drivers)

If you recall, Mucke Motorsport’s Formula BMW-Europe program was given a suspension in late-August after stewards found illegal oil pressure relief valve springs in the team cars during a post-race technical inspection at the Hungaroring.  The team decided to appeal the decision with the FIA.  The team drivers: Michael Christensen, Jack Te Braak, and Timmy Hansen were all given the option to run the remaining events as provisional (with Mucke), while the appeal was being processed, or they could switch teams.  At the time of the infraction, Christensen was leading the Formula BMW-Europe Championship.

The team lost the appeal.  It was announced earlier today that the FIA International Court of Appeals supported the decisions taken by the Race Stewards and the Organising Committee of Formula BMW-Europe.

This is a pretty unfortunate situation all the way around.  You really have to feel for the drivers though, they were obviously given bad advice.  I admire the loyalty to their team, but if there was any chance that the team might lose the appeal than someone should have advised them to finish the season with another team.  Someone dropped the ball.

As a result of the suspension and provisional results… the Mucke Motorsport drivers end their season in the following positions:

  • Michael Christensen- 4th
  • Timmy Hansen- 13th
  • Jack Te Braak- 20th

Unsung Hero- Joao Victor Horto (FBMW-Americas)

Posted October 29, 2009 at 11:36 am Formula BMW Comments

 Joao Victor Horto

Joao Victor Horto

Name: Joao Victor Horto
Born: Londrina, Brazil
Year of Birth: 1990

Website: None

Current Series: Formula BMW-Americas
Final Standings: 7th
Average Finish (1st Half of Season): 6.86
Average Finish (2nd Half of Season):  5

Previous Experience:
Started karting:  Age 6 (just for fun)
Karting Experience:  3+ years
Car Experience:  1 year (Formula Ford, Formula BMW)

Joao came into the 2009 season with very little experience, having only completed one Formula Ford test in Brazil prior to jumping into the Formula BMW series.   He managed to conclude the season ranked 4th out of 10 rookie drivers (missing the top-three by a mere four points) and 7th in the overall championship.  The season started off with a bang as Joao earned the hard charger award in his very first race (Round 1: Puebla).  He improved 4 positions in 14-laps, driving from 10th to finish 6th.  He also earned the hard charger award in Round 6 at Miller Motorsports Park.  The highlight of his season occurred at Road America (Round 11), where he finished 2nd after starting 7th, trailing, eventual champion, Gabby Chaves by 4.432 seconds at the stripe.  He has yet to announce his 2010 plans but he did recently test a Star Mazda car with Team Apex.  With a little more seat time, the future looks bright for this up-and-coming race driver.

Related Reading: Unsung Hero Awards


Goodbye Formula BMW-Americas

Posted August 30, 2009 at 9:56 pm Formula BMW Comments

The Formula BMW-Americas completed their season finale this weekend at Mosport… err, make that “series finale”. A few weeks back, BMW Motorsport made the announcement that they are cutting the Formula BMW-Americas program for 2010.

The 2009 Formula BMW-Americas champion is Gabby Chaves.  Gabby had a tremendous season that saw him capture the crown two weeks ago at Road America.  The 16-year-old Colombian won 5 races this year, but that wasn’t really his key to success.  His fortune was largely a result of consistency.  He averaged a finishing position of 1.71 and completed 100% of his 2009 races inside the top-three.

Giancarlo Vilarinho finished the season in 2nd place.  He was incredibly quick, winning 7 times…. which comes out to 50% of the races this season.  Unfortunately, he had some bad luck to go with those numbers.  He was unable to match Gabby’s consistency.  Vilarinho started from pole position nine times this year.  That number in itself is very impressive.

Giancarlo Raimondo finished the season in third place.  The 18-year-old Canadian was fairly consistent in his own right.  He finished inside the top-five in 78.6% of his 2009 race starts.  His best finish of the year came this weekend at Mosport— where he won Round 13 by 0.855 seconds over Chaves.

The Rookie Champion of 2009 is Michael Lewis.  The fight for the rookie championship came down to the final race as Australian stand-out James Kovacic held the lead heading into the series finale at Mosport.  Ultimately, Lewis came out on top.  Kovacic followed as the runner-up and Alex Ellis was third.  James Kovacic was the only rookie to win a race this season.

2009 Final Standings

  1. Gabby Chaves (235)
  2. Giancarlo Vilarinho (187)
  3. Gianmarco Raimondo (143)
  4. Michael Lewis (111) -Rookie
  5. James Kovacic (103) -Rookie
  6. Alex Ellis (95) -Rookie
  7. Joao Victor Horto (91) -Rookie
  8. Daniel Vela (56) -Rookie
  9. Martin Sala (54) -Rookie
  10. Wilson Philippe (38) -Rookie
  11. Barrett Mertins (19) -Rookie
  12. Freddy Zebede (9) -Rookie
  13. Robert Garcia (3) -Rookie

Further Reading:  Formula BMW Archives


Mücke Motorsport Suspended

Posted August 20, 2009 at 3:45 pm Formula BMW, open wheel racing news Comments

Mücke Motorsport has been given a four-round suspension in the Formula BMW-Europe series after race stewards and the Hungarian ASN determined that all three of the team’s cars failed post race inspection at the Hungaroring.

The violation stems from illegal oil pressure relief valve springs. The team is currently filing an appeal and will compete in the up coming events (on a provisional basis–meaning their results will not count unless they are found innocent in the appeal). The penalty has already cost Mücke Motorsport driver Michael Christensen a race win and the series points lead. The other drivers affected by the violation are Jack Te Braak and Timmy Hansen. According to race stewards, the drivers had no prior knowledge of the illegal valve springs. Just as a side note…..Sunday’s race at the Hungaroring marked the best result of the season for both Jack Te Braak and Timmy Hansen.


After the announcement was made that BMW will withdraw from Formula One, I posted a poll on Junior Open Wheel Talent which asked readers “Will Formula BMW be affected by the withdrawal of BMW from Formula One?”. Well, today we received our answer. Formula BMW- Americas will cease to exist during the 2010 season.

BMW Motorsport will continue with Formula BMW-Pacific and Formula BMW-Europe due to their relatively large grid size. They will also honor their previous Formula One test commitments to Alexander Rossi and Esteban Gutierrez. I would have had a much bigger column to write had they not.

While I think it’s great to see them continue the Formula BMW program, without abandoning it all together as many thought they would, it’s disappointing to see them drop the North American series. That said, I don’t think anyone is surprised. Formula BMW- Americas has been hurting for the past few years and the state of the economy is only making things worse. I hope BMW Motorsport takes time to evaluate the reason they had such a huge drop off in numbers, fixes their mistakes, and then reinstates the series in North America. Will it happen? Probably not.

Similar Story:  Goodbye Formula BMW-Americas


After being away from the computer for a few days due to a mini-vacation, it’s time to catch up on all the racing news and results. Rather than put all the news into individual posts, which are already dated, I decided to just put everything in one spot via a ‘Linkage‘ post.

Skip Barber
Skip Barber National standout Connor De Phillippi won Round 7 by going from 3rd to 1st in the final lap.
Round 7:
Complete Results

Skip Barber Karting Scholarship winner Court Vernon won his first Skip Barber National race over the weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.
Round 8: Complete Results

Formula BMW-Americas
Gabby Chaves won the first race of the weekend at Lime Rock Park in dominant fashion. The win moves the Colombian driver back into the points lead.
Round 8: Complete Results

Australian driver James Kovacic celebrated his 16th birthday in style by claiming his first Formula BMW victory in Race 2 at LRP. Not only did Kovacic win, he became the first driver to win from a spot other than pole position, so far this season. He started the race in 5th. Honorable mention should go to Alex Ellis who led most of the race only to see the victory slip away in the closing laps.
Round 9: Complete Results

F2000 Championship
Matthew Inge ran a solid race to take his second win of the season in the F2000 Championship, while racing at Summit Point Motorsports Park. Championship leader Chris Miller finished the race in second place. Alegra Motorsports driver Fabio Orslon continues to develop as he finished the race in 3rd.
Race 1: Complete Results

Tim Minor found his way to the top spot of the podium in the second race of the weekend at his home track (SPMP). Championship leader Chris Miller continued his renowned podium streak by finishing 2nd. Ben Searcy found his way to the podium after being DQ’d from a fifth place finish in Race 1—due to missing the minimum weight requirement by a mere 3lbs.
Race 2: Complete Results

You can read the F2000 Championship weekend notebook here>>.

Atlantic Championship
Simona De Silvestro made history this weekend by becoming the winningest female driver in the 36-year history of the Atlantic Championship. Simona claimed her fourth career Atlantic victory at Lime Rock Park. The previous record was held by Katherine Legge, who had 3 career Atlantic victories. John Edwards had a great run to finish 2nd after starting 5th. His performance earned him the hard charger award. Borja Garcia put in another solid performance to finish 3rd in Round 5. The result marked his second podium of the season.
Round 5- Complete Results

Formula 3 Euro Series
Jules Bianchi dominated the competition at Zandvoort this weekend for Rounds 7 & 8 of the 2009 championship. The 19-year-old driver has won four races this season and leads the championship by 17 points.

The Hard Charger of Round 7 was Atte Mustonen who improved 11 positions– 20th to 9th.
Round 7- Zandvoort Complete Results

The Hard Charger of Round 8 was Stefano Coletti who improved 12 positions– 24th to 12th.
Round 8- Zandvoort Complete Results

World Series by Renault
Bertrand Baguette dominated the weekend by winning both races at Le Mans. Baguette leads the championship by 19 points over Marcos Martinez (2nd) and James Walker (3rd).

The Hard Charger of Round 10 was Dani Clos who improved 10 positions–20th to 10th.
Round 10: Le Mans Complete Results

The Hard Charger of Round 11 was Edoardo Mortara, who improved 15 positions–21st to 6th. Honorable mention should go to Miguel Molina who improved 8 positions–10th to 2nd.
Round 11: Le Mans Complete Results


Karting Prospects Sample FBMW Car

Posted June 30, 2009 at 10:16 am Formula BMW, Test Comments

A few aspiring race drivers had the chance to test a Formula BMW- FB02 race car last week at Putnam Park. Team Apex and Team Autotecnica spent the day at the track working with 7 drivers total. The three drivers who tested with Team Apex are: Brandon Newey, Jimmy Simpson, and Jody Gara. Team Autotecnica put Luke Johnson, Eric Batt, Kyle Ludwick, and Jack Manley in their car.

According to Randy Biggs ‘Series Manager of Formula BMW-Americas’, the test was basically designed to give these young drivers an introduction to the Formula BMW series and car. There wasn’t a timing system set up—meaning no lap-times were taken. (at least not formally)

Team Apex
Brandon Newey has been very impressive in karts. The 16-year-old (almost 17) used the offseason to transfer his skills to the car ranks by attending a 3-Day Skip Barber racing school in Sebring, Florida. With the Formula BMW test behind him and an active karting schedule planned for this summer, the Indiana native would be a solid prospect for Team Apex. It would be nice to see Newey get back in the car for a few more tests with the team and perhaps run a few Skippy car races before making the jump.

Jimmy Simpson is arguably the best prospect of the bunch. Simpson has been extremely impressive in karts. Last year, he had a very solid drive in the RoboPong 200 (partnered with Eric Batt’s brother Evan Batt). The duo crossed the stripe in first, but were eventually given a post-race penalty and had to settle for 2nd place. At the 2007 RoboPong karting event, partnering with CJ Linter, Simpson found his way to the front and finished 3rd. Along with his karting endeavors, Simpson has also been participating in Ford Focus midget races this season. He won his first event on May 27th at Illiana Motor Speedway by leading every lap.

I’m not as familiar with Jody Gara but that doesn’t mean much….except that I haven’t personally seen him drive. Gara reportedly comes from a racing family as his father ran both stock cars and karts during his youth. Jody is currently developing in the karting ranks, but hopes to move up the motorsports ladder in the future. Away from racing, he is planning to pursue an accounting degree at Sinclair Community College.

Team Autotecnica
Luke Johnson of Minnesota has done very well since being introduced to karting at a local indoor center in 2007. He has moved up the ranks very quickly but his results haven’t dropped off which is a really good sign. After spending the last two seasons developing his smoothness in a lower horsepower kart, Luke has jumped to the higher horsepower stock shifter class for 2009. The 15-year-old race driver is hoping to move into the car ranks for 2010. If he is able to spend enough time in a car, testing and developing his skills, he will likely continue to impress.

Eric Batt is another example of a driver who has moved up the ranks fairly quickly. He has done quite well and is also competing in a stock moto kart for 2009. He hasn’t had the best luck so far in 2009, but he has been quick at every stop. With a year or two of development time, Eric should be really impressive. He is also a very good tuner, which bodes well for a career in motorsports.

Kyle Ludwick hasn’t been racing long, but has produced some very impressive results. This season he is competing in the KRA Yamaha Sr. Pipe class at New Castle Motorsports Park. He will likely need a few more years in karts before making the jump to Formula BMW, but adding a FB02 test to his resume is very positive.

Jack Manley is currently running in the World Karting Association (Yamaha Jr. & HPV Jr. classes). Manley is still relatively young and is spending time in the Manufacturer’s Cup running several classes, which is probably the best thing for him right now. Like Ludwick, a campaign in Formula BMW is probably a few years off, but adding seat time in karts and cars is the right step.

It will be interesting to see if these drivers take part in the Formula BMW Licensing courses this summer. The licensing programs will be held at Miller Motorsports Park on July 8-10 and August 17-19, 2009.

In other Formula BMW Americas news, the 2009 competitors completed their own Putnam Park test last weekend. You can view the results of the test here>>


Sage Karam Tests FBMW with Andersen Racing

Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:00 am Formula BMW, Test Comments

Sage Karam, of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, completed 214-laps in a Formula BMW car last Thursday with Andersen Racing. The 14-year-old race driver is currently competing in the Skip Barber National Championship, along with several national karting events. The Formula BMW test, which took place at New Jersey Motorsports Park, also helped prepare Karam for his upcoming Skip Barber National race–held at the same track– next weekend.

The Karam’s have stated that they are undecided on a series for 2010, so they were merely adding track time while sampling a possible route.

Junior Open Wheel Talent Blog

Promote Your Page Too