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Minardi links up with Asian team
February 11, 2004 21:39 IST
Minardi are setting up an Asian junior team that they hope might one day take a young driver from the region all the way to Formula One.
Minardi said in a statement on Wednesday they had signed an agreement with Eurasia Motorsport to form a new Minardi Team Asia and enter young drivers in both the Formula BMW Asia and Asian Formula Three series this year.
Up to four cars in Minardi's Formula One colours will compete in Formula BMW and one in F3 in China, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines.
"There has often been talk of Formula One teams helping to popularise motorsport in Asia but, up until now, nothing of any substance has been done," Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said in the statement.
"As a team, Minardi has worked with many Asian companies over recent years and has said consistently that it wants to assist the development of the sport in this area of the world.
"I'm sure, considering the population of Asia, a young driver will be discovered via this programme who has the ability and the determination to make it to Formula One."
Hard-up Minardi, run by Australian businessman Stoddart, are the smallest team in Formula One and failed to score a point last year.
Their search for sponsorship has led to a number of joint ventures in the past in emerging markets and in 2001, with Malaysian backers, they signed up Alex Yoong as Malaysia's first Formula One driver.
China hosts a Grand Prix for the first time this year while Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that South Korea will be on the calendar by the end of the decade. Malaysia has had a Grand Prix since 1999.