The inaugural season of the JK Racing Asia series, a six-round racing championship across Asia, will feature an Indian driver in Bangalore's Raj Bharath, it was announced here on Tuesday.

The 16-year-old will be one of 22 participants, all of whom will drive the Formula JK Tyre Pacific, a 1.2 litre BMW-powered single-seater race car.

Seven teams are slated to feature in the championship where three rounds — in Malaysia, Singapore and India — will be support events for F1 races with the other three — in South Korea, Indonesia, and again Malaysia — part of the Asian Festival of Speed. The 18-race-season will open at the Sepang International Circuit on April 8, ahead of the Malaysian GP.

Not an easy jump

Bharath, the 2010 JK Tyre Rotax Junior National karting champion, admitted the jump was not going to be easy. “I'm excited,” he said, “but I'm under no illusions. The first year is just going to be a tough learning period. My aim is to win a podium place in the second season.”

Briefing the press, Sanjay Sharma, Head-Motorsports, JK Tyre and Industries Ltd, said his organisation would be involved with the event for a minimum of three years.

“Young drivers in India can use this as a platform to move on to higher levels of racing,” he added. “Drivers like Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok, and Armaan Ebrahim have raced at this level and gone on to bigger things.”

The JK Racing Asia Series will be managed by Motorsport Asia and is a replacement for the Formula BMW Pacific series that had been running since 2003. The 2011 season will conclude in October with the last round of races supporting the Indian GP at Delhi.

Keywords: JK Racing Asia

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