INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 22, 2010)-Chinese Formula One reserve and test driver, Ho-Pin Tung, made sporting history this weekend as he officially becomes the first Chinese licensed driver to take the wheel of an IndyCar by testing with the FAZZT Race Team at Sebring International Raceway.
FAZZT kicked off efforts to add to its driver lineup by signing an agreement with Luxembourg based Gravity Sport Management to pursue and secure the proper commercial partnerships necessary to ensure Ho-Pin Tung a competitive full season in 2011. The Sebring test, funded by FAZZT’s primary sponsor Bowers & Wilkins, was the first part of the process.
“Our goal is to run a minimum of two cars for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar season and this test was a first step in that direction,” says FAZZT COO and General Manager Rob Edwards. “With the support of our primary sponsor Bowers & Wilkins, our team is actively seeking sponsorship for the second full-time entry for the 2011 season and beyond. Ho-Pin Tung’s talent and presence in an IndyCar can reach a whole new nation of fans in China and presents significant opportunities for our sport and our partners.”
“We were very happy with the results of our involvement with the FAZZT Race Team in the IZOD IndyCar series this past season,” says team sponsor Bowers & Wilkins owner and chairman, Joe Atkins. “We are extremely excited with the team’s plan to expand and the chance to create a China link with Ho-Pin (Tung) creates an enormous opportunity for the team and everyone involved with the IndyCar Series to create broad awareness in the largest consumer market in the world. For most global brands the People’s Republic of China represents by far the greatest potential for growth in the coming years and the ability to be associated with the first Chinese driver ever to compete in IndyCar and race in the Indy 500 is truly a unique and powerful opportunity.”
Preparations for an additional FAZZT entry began with the successful completion of a two day IndyCar test on the road course in Sebring, Florida this past Friday and Saturday with Renault F1 test and reserve driver Tung at the wheel of the no.88 Honda-powered Dallara. With the added support of Honda and Firestone, the two-day session gave Tung the chance to put in a total of 211 laps and 350 miles and set a fast time of 53.5 seconds on the 1.65 mile Sebring road course.
“This is a great challenge and opportunity given to me by FAZZT and Bowers & Wilkins.” said Tung following his introduction to the no.88 Honda/Dallara/ Firestone Indycar. “The main goal for this test was to get familiar with the car and team and it has been very positive experience. I am eager to get more now. This week has been terrific for getting to know the team and IndyCar. I even got a ride around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and can only imagine how amazing it would be to run there especially in this centennial year. There has been growing interest in motorsports in China and it would be incredible to be able to add to IndyCar’s international appeal.”
“It was a good chance to get to know Ho-Pin’s (Tung) talent first hand in our Indycar and he exceeded any expectations we had,” said General Manager Rob Edwards. “He gave our engineering group an excellent opportunity to go through the list of test items and help improve our program. One of our goals is to have at least two cars in the field for 2011 because when we analyze where we could improve from this past season, adding entries will give us the extra input and data we need to improve our performance and compete among the leaders each race weekend.”
FAZZT driver of the no.77 Bowers & Wilkins entry, Alex Tagliani was also on hand at Sebring to help Tung with his introduction to Indycars.
“I’m very excited about the results of our test here and it’s great for our young team to be able to give an opportunity to driver of Ho-Pin’s (Tung) caliber and work towards adding another car to our program,” said Alex Tagliani who posted a front row starting position in the team’s first race at Brazil, a 5th place start and 10th place finish in the 2010 Indianapolis 500, as well a team high fourth place finish at Mid-Ohio. “We’re very pumped about the future and the progress we have been making,” added Tagliani. “Our engineers are improving our car and building on the things we learned in our first year and this test with Ho-Pin (Tung) confirmed some of those improvements. It’s a tremendous step in the right direction and we can leave Sebring a lot of confidence and hope for the future.”
Ho-Pin Tung (ìüâ×ïk) got his start in karting before graduating to single-seaters. He won the 2003 Formula BMW Asia series for which he was rewarded with a Williams F1 team test drive. Tung ran three seasons in the German Formula 3 series with a championship title in 2006, and was then signed as a test driver with BMW Sauber for the 2007 season.
Following stints in the GP2 series in both Asia and Europe, as well the Superleague Formula series, Tung tested and ran as a reserve driver for the Renault F1 team in 2010 while also making a return to the GP2 Series.
Tung, who will be celebrating his 28th birthday in December, is fluent in Chinese, Dutch and English and does well in both French and German.
The FAZZT team will continue preparations over the next few months to compete in the most diverse and challenging championship in motorsports, with a 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule that features eight oval races and nine road/street events. The 2011 Championship fight begins March 27 on the temporary street course in St. Petersburg, Florida.