Long time Malaysian-based motorsport entrepreneur Peter Thompson is looking to take advantage of the growing ties between Australian and Asian motorsport through his cost-effective FIA AsiaCup Series.
A stamping ground for several young Australians in the past, including reigning champion Jake Parsons, Thompson believes the economics of his series make it a ‘no brainer' for young Australian and Kiwi talent looking for the next step in their careers out of karting.
Thompson is hoping that a recent push into the Australian market will encourage drivers to fill his last couple of seats for his 2015 championship, which starts in three weeks time.
It also comes at a time when Australian open-wheel racing is in some turmoil with Formula Ford and Formula 3 set to lose their national status and the new CAMS-owned Formula 4 still to find its feet.
Thompson's Meritus operation, in conjunction with the Sepang Formula One Management, run the one-make FIA approved AsiaCup Series at the Sepang circuit, just outside of Kuala Lumpur.
“Every year there seems to be more ties between Asian and Australian motorsport and I think the V8 Supercars running on the streets of KL is the next major step in that development,” said Thompson.
“We believe we offer a terrific cost-efficient option for young Australian drivers wanting to advance their open-wheel career without putting stress on their families.
“We keep the costs as low as possible without compromising safety or performance and the seat time and experience cannot be gained cheaper anywhere.
“Jake (Parsons) did a terrific job to win the AsiaCup last year and has continued his form in Formula Masters this year as well as other things.
“We already have a melting pot of international drivers for this year's championship, but we have a couple of spots remaining and we would love to have a couple of Aussies in our field and give them a shot of winning back-to-back titles for Australia.”
According to Thompson, the full 12-race championship, which is run over three race weekends, costs $US55,000 or around $A74,000, excluding damage and wet weather tyres, for what works out to be about 350km of track time.
“Amazingly the average damage bill for the season last year was less than $10,000 per driver. Obviously, Sepang being 15 metres wide helps with that,” said Thompson.
“When you consider that you can now fly to Malaysia almost as cheaply as internally in Australia and the low cost of accommodation and other expenses here I think we have a perfect international race package.”
Test days are also offered at $US2,500 for four hours on track and three hours of driver coaching.
There is also a six-race Super 6 event at Sepang in December which includes an official test and six races for $US21,000.
“Each Super 6 event packs six races into one weekend and they're a great way to prepare for the AsiaCup Series itself or other championships around the globe,” explained Thompson.
“This is a world first and with six race starts in one weekend, it compares to two or three weekends of racing in Europe with a huge saving on travel costs.”
Parsons used the AsiaCup as a stepping stone to Formula Masters this year and is hoping to progress his career into the US through the Mazda Pro Series next year.
“I think Peter (Thompson) and his team have done a great job producing the AsiaCup program and doing it at a price which gives plenty of people an opportunity,” said Parsons, who will run for Thompson's Meritus team in Formula Masters at the KL street race this weekend.
“The option was the right one for me and certainly a viable path for any young driver looking to develop their skills in a competitive environment.”