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Formula BMW Talent Cup - The gateway to the world of motorsport

Although the Middle East region is hosting two Formula One races at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and at the Bahrain International Circuit in Manama, there are hardly any professional beginner’s racing series currently in this region. The Middle Eastern edition of the Formula BMW Cup was launched in Bahrain shortly after the first F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain in 2004, but unfortunately could not sustain for a long time as there had been no �real’ motorsport-culture available, neither in Bahrain nor in the gulf region, at that time yet.

Could that change with the Formula BMW Talent Cup? Could that be a new opportunity for young racing talents and young drivers from the Middle East?

We decided to accompany Callan O’Keeffe to one of his training sessions to find that out.

Callan O’Keeffe’s eyes bore into the instructor. Simple data analysis is on the schedule today. However, the 16-year-old appears to want to find out more than just facts and figures on lateral acceleration and braking points.

It is almost as though the answers to a pile of other questions are hidden somewhere deep inside the engineer, waiting to be discovered by whoever can penetrate his exterior with their eyes.

This one gaze encapsulates the pure fascination for the sport and the endless desire to learn more about a true passion. It is the attempt to take in everything that could possibly help him improve.

Is Callan O’Keefe the next Vettel?

Could he be the successor to one of the biggest names in motorsport, who, like Callan O’Keefe and his fellow 15 drivers in this junior series, started out in Formula BMW?

Back then, when a brace and a smiley sticker were the trademarks of “Superseb�, well before the raised finger of success. After each win a yellow smiley face was added to the standard single-seater, in which so many successful drivers have taken their first steps in motorsport, until no room remained for the victory stickers. 18 wins from 20 races – a record that still stands today.

It is the launch of a career in motor racing, BMW style: the Formula BMW Talent Cup offers budding drivers aged 14 and above a globally unique opportunity to prepare themselves comprehensively and holistically for a career in international motorsport. Plenty of practice time on the track, intensive coaching courtesy of BMW works drivers and experienced instructors, and extensive simulator, fitness, mental and media training: the drivers in the Formula BMW Talent Cup learn all they will need in their career – from scratch.

“In the Formula BMW Talent Cup, each participants starts with the same conditions and opportunities. This is ensured by the use of identical cars, as well as the comprehensive education programme, which offers the talented youngsters all the preparation they need for a career in motorsport,� says BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “The programme ranges from the teaching of basic technical information and medical, physiological and psychological aspects, to training in how to deal with the media. This holistic concept for promoting junior racing drivers is the only one of its kind in the world.�

Many drivers now enjoying success in motor racing took their first steps in Formula BMW. Two-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel began his motorsport career in the Formula BMW ADAC Championship in 2004. More of today’s motorsport stars also used Formula BMW as a springboard to a successful career: Formula One drivers Timo Glock, Nicolas H?¼lkenberg, Bruno Senna, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Rosberg, for example. BMW’s test and development driver in the DTM, Marco Wittmann, is also a Formula BMW graduate. The same goes for the stars making their name in the USA – like Graham Rahal, the latest member of the US racing dynasty, and Simona di Silvestro.

In 2012, 16 talented youngsters set out to follow in the footsteps of these role models. The budding young drivers came from ten different countries – from Estonia to Mexico, German to South Africa. The Formula BMW Talent Cup calendar also has an international feel about it: the race simulations and test sessions give the drivers exclusive access to some of the most renowned racetracks in Europe, thus allowing intensive and comprehensive practice. The 2012 Formula BMW Talent Cup takes participants to Spielberg/Austria, Sturup/Sweden, Valencia/Spain, Magny-Cours/France, Hungaroring/Hungary and Oschersleben/Germany. The on-track programme is complemented by workshops, such as the fitness course in Finland at the start of the year and the two simulator training sessions in Silverstone/Great Britain.

The car used in the Formula BMW Talent Cup is the tried-and-tested Formula BMW FB02 – a uniform single-seater, which both meets the strictest safety standards and features high-performance technology. The key data: 140 hp and a top speed of 230 km/h. From FORS (Formula Rescue Seat) to HANS (Head and Neck Support), a comprehensive package, which is in line with the demands in place in higher-level single-seater racing, ensures the safety of the drivers. Even ten years after its introduction, the standard single-seater is still right up-to-date.

The cars are maintained centrally and are always prepared for race weekends with an identical set-up. The technology is not so crucial to the driver’s performance, but rather talent and the will to improve lesson by lesson. The talented youngsters are also given detailed insights into data analysis – including comparisons with the opposition – and receive feedback from experienced instructors.

The Formula BMW Talent Cup concept sees the large amount of practice time spent on the racetrack complemented by comprehensive lessons to ensure a holistic motorsport education. The Formula BMW Talent Cup includes regular fitness courses, in which the drivers are given customised, motorsport-related exercises to improve their stamina and strength, as well as an introduction to correct nutritional habits. Strong in mind, strong in body: mental training compliments the fitness programme and the two simulator training sessions. Prof. Dr. Dieter Hackfort teaches the participants techniques to maintain self-control and set sensible goals, as well as providing mental methods to prepare for practice sessions and races.

At the Grand Final at the end of the season, the participants will have to put into practice all the knowledge they have acquired. Only the winner of these three races will receive sponsorship from BMW for a season in a higher-level single-seater series.

Until then, Callan O’Keeffe und Co. will continue to pose many more penetrating questions and seek out the answers in what they are taught by their instructors. When it comes to the Grand Final, they will need to call upon and implement everything they have learned over the course of the programme.

I hope more and more Middle Eastern and North African drivers will find their 'way' to the Formula BMW Talent Cup.

Munich - Cairo - Dubai

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