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Meritus DRIVER

‘Creating International

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Track Record 2009


Meritus DRIVER

Motorsport Heroes’

Track Record 2009

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Meritus

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10-11

Contents 18-19 6-9

Pak Lah inspires Meritus

10-11

Raad: New drivers will deliver podium finishes

12-14

Thompson opens doors for Asians

16-17

Italian stallion to show his true colours

18-19

Parente adds a dash of class

20-21

Picture power

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Rio tames wet weather in Sepang

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Dustin wants to be new Schumacher

24-25

Big brother Firhat

30-31

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Michel: Our championship has never been healthier or more successful

Bahrain circuit to go from strength to strength

32-33

Qi invest big in Meritus

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Qi and Meritus a recipe for success

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Dubai Autodrome in safe hands

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16-17

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Zooming in

Track Record 2009

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Meritus

What Meritus stands for Meritus is a multi-dimensional motorsport services company with a winning culture of race-engineering success in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Our team motto is ‘Creating International Motorsport Heroes’ by supporting and training young drivers to achieve their dreams in the high-tech business of international motorsport.

In keeping with our team brand Meritus, from the Latin meritum meaning ‘to obtain a lot,’ our objective is to provide our advertising-partners with the excellence and resources they require in order to generate a ten-fold return on their advertising investment. The team’s culture ‘Winning is Business’

comes from the Chinese translation of our word-brand Meritus. “Wan Li Da, means Winning comes First – even if the effort takes 100,000 miles”. Meritus has proven that success does indeed flow from consistent hard work, dedication, professionalism, technological leadership and, above all, the culture and development of talent. We are proud of all our drivers and the Meritus hall of fame includes our F1 heros. In a team sport where only one person collects the award, the brand Merit-us also gives recognition to our sponsors, our engineering staff and our winning dynamics. When Meritus is included with the sponsor brand it has the effect of enhancing and adding merit to the teambrand. Merit is indeed at the core of Meritus, and the team’s red color scheme reflects the warmth, the passion, the efficiency, the culture and dedication that flows through the heart of the team. Anthropologists have proven that wearing the color red provides an unfair sporting advantage! Track Record 2009

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Meritus DRIVER

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Meritus DRIVER

A PROUD MOMENT My Qi Meritus.Mahara team inspired by Pak Lah’s support

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y Qi Meritus.Mahara’s drivers said they are inspired to do well in the Malaysian leg of this season’s GP2 Asia Series following the recent flag handing over ceremony by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to the team’s owner, Firhat Mokhzani. Although Marco Bonanomi and Alvaro Parente were not present at the function, which also saw Meritus hand over a model of the GP2 car to the honourable Dato Seri Abdullah, they were in agreement that the government support will certainly give the team a big lift ahead of the April 3-5 Malaysian F1 Grand Prix. The two drivers had prior engagements in Europe and expressed regret they were not able to meet the country’s Prime Minister. “I would have loved to have been there as it is great for Meritus to get the backing of the Malaysian government,” said Bonanomi. “Unfortunately, I could not attend but the team have told me how much it meant to them to for me personally,it is great to know we will race in Malaysia with 100% support.” Asia’s most successful motorsport team, Meritus Racing, received a huge boost for the the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix when the honourable Dato Seri Abdullah handed over the national flag, Jalur Gemilang, to Firhat on March 6. Parente said: “It is not everyday that a motorsport team get the honour of meeting the Prime Minister and I know we are all inspired by the support shown by the Malaysian government. Track Record 2009

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Meritus DRIVER

“The Malaysian Grand Prix will only be my second outing for Meritus but already, I feel part of the team and both Marco and I are determined to aim for a podium finish to give the home fans plenty to cheer. “It would be wonderful if we can achieve our goal of finishing inside the top three. We have shown we have the pace, now it is a matter of getting lady luck on our side.” Meritus Racing will compete in two support races in the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix – the Formula BMW Pacific and the GP2 Asia Series. Their drivers for the Formula BMW Pacific are Indonesians, Rio Haryanto and Dustin Sufyan. “I wish the team all the best for the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix and also in their future races,” said the honourable Dato Seri Abdullah at his office.

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“It is good that a Malaysian team have earned world wide recognition for their successes in motorsports.” The team, who have won 32 Asian titles in the past 12 years, including the last six Formula BMW Pacific Championships, have a tradition of unearthing talented drivers who have gone on to race

in the pinnacle of motorspors, Formula 1. India’s Narain Kartikeyan and Japan’s Takuma Sato starred for Meritus before finding success in F1. New Zealand’s Earl Bamber and Malaysia’s Jazeman Jaafar also started their careers with Meritus and they are seen as the next big talents in motorsports.

Malaysia’s only Formula 1 driver, Alex Yoong, has had a long relationship with the team and drove for them in the opening rounds of this season’s GP2 Asia Series, which is also known as the F1 Development Series. Many of the current batch of Formula One drivers, including world champion Lewis Hamilton,


Meritus DRIVER

“I wish the team all the best for the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix and also in their future races.”

–Dato Seri Abdullah

graduated from the GP2 Series. The Meritus team are the only Asian outfit granted a license to compete in the GP2 Asia Series. Meritus Racing have worked hard to raise the standard of local motorsports with their keen eye for talent spotting young drivers and the development of race engineers and mechanics. This can be seen from their all-local backroom staff in the Formula BMW Pacific as well as the Formula V6 Asia which the team have dominated for the last three years. Firhat said: “I would like to thank the honourable Prime Minister for taking time out from his tight schedule to hand over the Jalur Gemilang to us. “I know Meritus Racing will be inspired by his support for a Malaysian team and this will spur us on as we compete in our home

race in Sepang. “Hopefully, we can have a Malaysian driver back in the GP2 car in the near future. Alex really wanted to continue driving for us but had too many business commitments to take care off.” Team founder, Peter Thompson said: “We have been working hard behind the scenes as we want to put on a great show in front of our home fans. “I’m relatively confident we can challenge the more established teams when we race in Malaysia and Bahrain. Can we finish on the podium? Why not? The backroom staff have worked hard, the drivers have been on the simulators and the support from the Prime Minister and the government gives us an extra spark.” With their track record, don’t be surprise if My Qi Meritus.Mahara live up to their lofty ambitions.

MERITUS: “A Championship winning Malaysian Brand” Management: Headed by Firhat Yuri Bin Dr. Dato Mokhzani Main Business: Providing advertising and promotional services, international Formula Motorsport race engineering services, driver tuition and career development. Proposed expansion into formula racecar design and manufacture here in Malaysia for regional use and export. Formula: 1. Formula BMW Pacific (six time champions 03,04,05,06,07,08) 2. Formula V6 Asia (two time champion 07,08) GP2 Asia; the only Asian team in the F1 development series 1. Formula BMW: The international Formula BMW is the most successful junior series globally for the development of young drivers careers and the Malaysian brand MERITUS is the most successful team in this series. 2. Formula V6: FV6 is the next step on the Asian motorsport ladder offering professional race drivers 370bhp power cars loaded with all the latest technology. The series visits up to six Asian countries and has 8620 minutes screened to a potential 620million in 100 countries. 3. GP2 Asia: GP2 is a FoM (Formula One Management) owned championship. Mr Bernie Ecclestone is the head of the management team and assisted with the MERITUS GP2 Asia team entry. MERITUS are the only truly Asian team in the series and have impressed with their podium results. GP2 Asia is filmed by FOM-TV and screened globally through the F1 distribution networks. GP2 is the “F1 development championship” and MERITUS’ sponsors have gained a cost effective exposure to Formula One. GP2 supports most of the F1 events including the Malaysian GP and three GP2 champions have been awarded coveted F1 drives including: Nico Rosberg (Williams), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Timo Glock (Toyota). MERITUS F1 Drivers: MERITUS helped their Asian champions Narain Karthikeyan, Takuma Sato and Hopin Tung to achieve their F1 goals. Malaysian Drivers: MERITUS 1st Asian title with Malaysian driver Ng Wai Leong in 2000 MERITUS 2nd Asian title with Malaysian Jazeman Jaffar in 2007 MERITUS Winners: MERITUS is the Winner of 32 Asian motorsport titles (including F.BMW and FV6) since 1996. MERITUS Staff: MERITUS have 24 full time engineers/ mechanics, half of whom are Malaysians. MERITUS Drivers: MERITUS will have 12 cars (2xGP2, 7xBMW, 3xFormula V6) in the three series with three European and four Asian drivers currently contracted for the 2009 season. Budget: Full budget for all teams is close to US$6 million Meritus Media Coverage: Due to the team’s successes on the track, Meritus receive tremendous media coverage, the breakdown is as follows: 1. TV (US$30-40 million per season) 2. Print (US$10 million per season) 3. Other electronic media (US$8 million per season) Superbrand Status: Meritus was last year awarded the prestigious Superbrand Status in Malaysia.

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Meritus Team Chairman: Raad Abduljawad

Raad: New drivers will deliver podium finishes

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y Qi Meritus. Mahara team chairman Raad Abduljawad is confident the team’s two new drivers, Marco Bonanomi of Italy and Portugal’s Alvaro Parente, have it in them to end the season on a high. Bonanomi, who has taken part in three GP2 Asia Series rounds for the Meritus team, was brought in as a replacement for Malaysia’s Alex Yoong, who had to opt out of the championship due to business commitments. Parente, meanwhile, replaced New Zealand’s Earl Bamber, who is representing his country in another championship. Despite these changes to the line-up, Raad is optimistic the

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drivers can get on the podium in Bahrain, the last leg of the 2008-2009 championship. Based in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, Meritus’ headquarters is a stone’s throw away from the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) which hosted the fifth round of this season’s GP2 Asia Series from April 3-5. My Qi Meritus. Mahara are currently eighth in the championship standings with nine points. Last season, they finished a credible ninth,not bad for a team, making their debut in the F1 development series. And that too, against highly experienced European outfits. “We have two good drivers on board with Marco and Alvaro providing the team with good feedback,” said Raad. “I’m

delighted they are driving for us. They have helped us on the car set-up as this is evident from our timing in the races.We set the fastest lap in the last round in Qatar but could not capitalise on the times due to bad luck and tyre problems. We just need to overcome the setbacks and work on our qualifying to be among the leaders in the race.” Raad explained that the team are consistently evolving and that they are serious in reaching their targets of getting more podiums and being among the top teams in this deliciously tight championship.Bamber, caused a sensation when he was on the podium in the season opener last October and Raad is confident, with more luck, that feat can be repeated soon. “We have ambitions of being one of the major teams in GP2 Asia and will work ard to achieve this goal,” he said.”We had one podium already this season and we are working towards having more in the last round.” Raad, the business manager and the managing director of one of the top ranking Saudi business companies, Saudi Diesel Equipment Co. Ltd, a company that manufactures generators and sells construction equipment, fell in love with cars and motorsports from a young age thanks to his

father’s activities which included importing cars to Saudi Arabia. That is why, when Meritus Racing approached him two years ago to be part of their GP2 Asia Series project, he jumped at the chance to get involved with the F1 development championship. “Historically, there is a lot of interest in motor racing in Saudi Arabia. Saudi airlines and TAG are Saudi-owned companies who have invested in F1 for many years. But again many factors join forces and the entire area is roaring with interest,” said Raad.”The competition between the Dubai Autodrome, the Bahrain GP, the new Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ensures that racing is featured almost daily in the news. Beyond race tracks, the development of young drivers and young Arab winners is currently in progress. It is a long process. But it all belongs together. “In terms of racing events that bring people and race fans enthusiastically together, the situation still has to develop in Saudi Arabia. There is a permanent drag strip in Djeddah, which is a start. There are lots of events very close to motocross, but no Formula 1 or other junior Formula races yet.” He is hoping his ties with Meritus founder, Peter Thompson, will help fulfil this dream. “We


My qi-Meritus.Mahara

NEW HOPES: Raad is confident Parente (left) and Bonanomi can bring more success to My Qi Meritus.Mahara renewed our relationship around the time of the first Bahrain Grand Prix on April 4, 2004 when we both decided to help grow young local drivers. I convinced Peter Thompson to help the young champion who would become the 2005 Formula BMW Asia winner, Hamad Al Farden,” recalled Raad. “Hamad had just turned 18 and on his birthday he took his first ever Formula win in round 5 of the Formula BMW Asia Championship. Hamad drove a fault-free race, pressuring his team mate and getting the win. We have always kept in touch and when Peter asked me if I was interested in being of the GP2 Asia dream, I said yes. It can only be good for motorsports in the middle east to be involved with such a high level of racing.” My Qi Meritus.Mahara are a household name in the Middle East and part of his reason is partly due to the hardwork

and determination of Raad. He has been working tirelessly to promote the team and being a perfectionist, will only be happy if they improve on their overall showing this season. He also harbours hope of one day seeing an Arabic driver in the car, although he warned it won’t happen overnight. “It is important to train the right driver first, prepare him and bring him up to the right level to compete at the front. You can spoil a career if you progress it too early,” he said.”There is a very slight possibility to bring someone from the country in the team’s car. But too early would be a career mistake. What the team would also like to do is to invite representatives of the Federation and the sporting authorities or the President of Youth and Welfare to get more familiar with the team. Only then, can we dream of having an Arabic driver.”

SENSATIONAL: Earl Bamber celebrates his podium finish during the China race last October. Track Record 2009

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Meritus boss peter thompson

“We are now in Asia for 12 years and have won 32 championships in that time. I think the closest team have won two.”

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Thompson opens doors for Asians 12

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here may be 13 GP2 Asia teams but only one will be able to claim to be truly “Asian” – My QiMeritus.Mahara. The Malaysia-Saudi racing team, who have won 32 of their 34 championships in Asia in the past 12 years, and have employed almost every Asian driver who has reached Formula One since 1998, were recently awarded the ‘super-brand’ status. Team founder Peter Thompson told Emirates Business how they went from humble beginnings to ‘super-brand’ status. “The Meritus story begins on a farm in Ireland,” recalled Thompson. “Our family were farmers with no background in motor racing, but I had a passion for cars so I studied automative design and worked in the industry. “In 1980, when I was 23, with a £1,000 loan from my mother I formed what was Ireland’s first automative industry on the farm. I sold the horses and the stables became the offices, the cows were sold and their pen became the assembly, fabrication place and the hen houses became the paint house. We utilised all the facilities on the farm for Thompson Motor Company (TMC).


Meritus boss

It’s this dream that took Thompson to England in 1988 where he started Meritus, the racing team. After competing successfully in Europe for several years, the Irishman decided to expand into Asia in 1995. “That’s when I fell in love with Malaysia,” said Thompson, who has lived there ever since. “I was also successful in finding sponsorship money in Asia – which is essential to survive in motor racing. “Motor racing is about engineering and good drivers, but if you can’t find sponsorship money it will never be a business as it all revolves around the sponsors. “When we moved to Asia, I phoned Marlboro and explained my business and as they didn’t have a team in Asia, we did a three-year deal in 1995. “In 1996, we won the Formula BMW Asia championship with Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan, who went on to race in Formula One [in 2005 for Jordan]. In 1997, Takuma Sato was the winner [and he progressed to Formula One in 2002]. “We are now in Asia for 12 years and have won 32 championships in that time. I think the closest team have

won two.” Malaysian team Director Firhat Mokhzani invested in Meritus in the late 1990s making it a part-Asian owned team, while Saudi Arabian businessman Raad Abduljawad bought a stake in the team last year, when they took part in the inaugural GP2 Asia series, to give My Qi-Meritus. Mahara a Middle East co-owner as well.

The team have a reputation for identifying and nurturing young talented drivers from the region and when the concept of a GP2 Asia series was formulated, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone offered Meritus the only Asian license for GP2. So, what has helped Meritus achieve so much success? “I think it’s the personality of the team,” said Thompson. “We have created a family environment. “Sometimes drivers are not

taken care of by a team, but I’m like a father to these boys. When they have an argument with their parents they come live in my house – when they come to Malaysia they live in my house. “I have five children of my own, but sometimes I have six more race drivers living at my house – which creates a family environment for the team.” Success on the track means success in the bank as well and despite recent news that Formula One are looking at new ways to cut costs in the near future, motorsport is still a lucrative business for Meritus. “The GP2 season is costing us €1.7m and we target to make about €2.5m – a 20 per cent return on our investment. “Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and accidents happen, but the insurance covers most of the losses. “The cost per driver is €100,000 for Formula BMW, €275,000 for V6 and €650,000 for GP2 and for that they get a third of the ad rights on the car. We try to sell the ad rights at around €1.5m euros per car and so the company does turn over quite a bit, but we invest a lot back into the company. “The success of Meritus also attracts sponsors – they like

“Motor racing is about engineering and good drivers, but if you can’t find sponsorship money it will never be a business as it all revolves around the sponsors.”

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Meritus boss peter thompson

winning, they are not fools. Sponsors want to generate more exposure for their company. Last year, we generated $35m from television for sponsors and $9m in the print media. “Every article that gets written, we get professional people to evaluate it. Like, for example, last season in the GP2 we had about 350 articles written on us in the print media, 100 on the internet and we generated $5m for sponsors on TV. We also spent $2.5m on advertising campaigns in Asia and the Middle East.” So what are Thompson’s plans for Meritus in the future? “Meritus were awarded ‘superbrand’ in Asia, and we are only the 81st company to get it. This shows

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the sponsors we are a serious company. We are a Meritus brand now. “We want to use the success to generate other avenues in motorsport. “I want to get into manufacturing Asian race cars within the next two years. Next year I plan to launch a Meritus lifestyle clothing range. “Just as Virgin got into different things, we want to do the same. Obviously, we will never be as big as Virgin, but we want to move the brand in different directions as well.” In the future, one of those directions could be Formula One, considering how well upcoming young star Earl Bamber performed

“We introduce them to F1 teams who then take the drivers out of our Asia programme into F1 development programmes and there is transfer a fee involved in buying their contract from us.”

in his first ever GP2 race. The 18-year old New Zealander finished sixth and second respectively in his first two races at the Shanghai circuit, impressing racing experts. For now though, Thompson is happy to act as a feeder for F1 teams. “We have development programmes for our drivers,” said Thompson. “We introduce them to F1 teams who then take the drivers out of our Asia programme into F1 development programmes and there is transfer a fee involved in buying their contract from us.” If they keep on winning, perhaps, Meritus may not be just a feeder team for the big boys much longer.


d a o r k c e a th tr n e o h t e t c a n s a e m s r s o e f cc er u p s r r e u t O et b r e v deli

www.michelin.com

Track Record 2009

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Meritus DRIVER Marco Bonanomi

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arco Bonanomi is ready to live up to expectations in the final two rounds of the GP2 Asia Series which will be held in Malaysia and Bahrain. The Italian, who joined the team after Malaysia’s only Formula 1 driver, Alex Yoong, withdrew due to business commitments, came with high credentials after winning the final race of the inaugural GP2 Asia Series last year. However, he has yet to get any points since joining the team earlier this season. He, however, is confident of breaking his duck soon. “I knew Peter Thompson (Team founder) from the last GP2 Asia season when I was driving for another team,” said Bonanomi. “This year, he approached me to drive for the whole championships but I had other commitments in America and Europe and was only available to drive in January. When he approached me again, I jumped at the chance as Meritus are a successful team on and off the track. They have a good reputation and I knew they will help me to grow as a driver. “My target in the final two rounds is to get as many points as possible and try to get as many podium positions as possible. We are a young team but I’m confident we can challenge for the points in every race. “Sepang is really crazy. Last year, all the drivers were stunned at the humidity as most of us were wet from perspiration even before the race started. For sure we need drink lots of water before, during and after the race. “I have prepared myself well and I’m looking forward to racing and doing well in front of our home fans. I want to give them something to celebrate when they come to cheer us on at Sepang.” Like most drivers, Bonanomi harbours hopes of making the grade to Formula 1. He knows racing in GP2 Asia, is the perfect stepping stone as many of the current crop of F1 drivers, graduated from GP2. “I would love to make the grade to Formula 1 but for now, I’m totally focussed on driving for Meritus and earning as many points as I can for this season. It is not easy to make the step

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Italian stallion to show his true colours up but I hope to one day get the opportunity to race in the biggest stage of all. I believe Meritus can help me get there,” said Bonanomi. Bonanomi raced in karts until 2001 when he moved up to both Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and Italy Italian Winter Series. He continued in the Italian Championship with two races in Eurocup. He continued in both series in 2002 before graduating to Formula 3 Italy in 2003 winning a race and taking four podiums. He also competed in the F3 Korea Super Prix and the F3 Macau GP. In 2004 he moved up to Formula 3 Euroseries and competed in a couple of races of Formula 3 Italy. He continued in F3 Euroseries the following season and in 2006 when he also competed in Formula 3000 Italy. He finished the season classified as runner up in Formula 3000 Italy (2006) and equally runner up in Euroseries 3000 (2006). In 2007 Bonanomi joined the World Series by Renault finishing on the podium twice and setting a fastest lap. He also competed in the International Formula Master series scoring a pole position. Bonanomi continued in the World Series by Renault in 2008 and also joined the inaugural GP2 Asia Series, winning his first GP2 Asia race in Dubai with Piquet Sports. He was called by Audi for an Official test on DTM car. Bonanomi became a My QiMeritus.Mahara driver in GP2 Asia as of the Bahrain round in 2009.


Meritus DRIVER

Marco Bonanomi Date of birth: March 12, 1985 Place of birth: Lecco, Italy Resident: Colle Brianza (Provincia di Lecco - Regione Lombardia). Country: Italy GP2 Grand Prix starts: 12 Website: www.marcobonanomi.com Height: 1.76m Weight: 68kg Hair: Brown Eyes: Green and Grey Blood type: O+ Marital status: Single Hobbies: go-kart, cars, music and snowboard Favourite music: R&B, Rock Favourite music artist: Linkin Park Favourite food: Pasta and sushi Favourite drink: Avocado juice

Track Record 2009

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Meritus DRIVER Alvaro Parente

Parente adds a dash of class

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is Latin good looks and racing pedigree make Alvaro Parente a firm favourite with female racing fans. In fact, during the fourth round of the GP2 Asia Series in Doha, a female race official remarked that Parente and his My Qi Meritus.Mahara team mate Marco Bonanomi, have made Meritus the best looking team on the grid! While Parente may enjoy the attention, he only has a one track mind when he is behind the wheel, and that is to get the chequered flag. He made a stunning start to his GP2 career in the opening round of last season at the Circuit de Catalunya, Parente won the feature race making him the first Portuguese driver to win in GP2 Series. There, Parente led from start to finish, to claim victory ahead of Brazilian Bruno Senna and UAE’s Andreas Zuber. He eventually finished eighth in the drivers’ championship. While chalking up points for his previous team, he noticed the all-red My Qi Meritus.Mahara cars in the GP2 Asia Series. “I heard about the team last season and followed the championship and watched them. I can remember the Indonesia

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podium with Luca di Filippi. The team have a very good image. It was not hard for Peter Thompson and Gianfranco Bielli to convince me to join such a strong team,” said Parente. “The team’s results have shaken established teams with their performance. I’ll do my best to show the team, Questnet, the sponsor, and the fans what I can do. I hope that my experience in GP2 and A1 Grand Prix will help.” A close friend of Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo, Parente is obviously a big football fan and even did an advertisement with the world player of the year. He also enjoys tennis and said both those sports helped him keep in shape during the off season. “I stayed fit by doing lots of sports tennis, football without hurting myself – going to the gym. Sports takes a lot of time in a day,” he said. “Mentally I just stay relaxed and focused on the approach to a race. I try to imagine and concentrate on the next track. “I have raced in Sepang before so I know what to expect. I’m determined to make it a grand time for our fans. I have tasted victory in GP2 before and who knows, with a little bit of luck, we could be celebrating a podium

finish in Malaysia.” Parente started competitive racing in karts in 1994 when he was just 10, winning national championships along the way. His first major success came in 1998 when he won the European Junior Karting Championship. He continued to impress and by 2001, at the age of 16 joined the Spanish F3 Championship and the year after finished fourth overall. In 2003 he joined the F3 Euroseries as his career really began to flourish. He also competed in Italian Formula 3 and British Formula 3, where he continued in 2004 and ended up winning the competitive championship in 2005 taking

11 wins along the way. The performance earned him a chance to represent his country in the newly launched A1 Grand Prix Series. In 2006 Parente joined the World Series by Renault and took his first win in only his fifth race. He became the series champion a year later with two race wins, and five podium finishes. As a prize for winning the World Series, Parente tested for the Renault F1 team in 2008 and joined the GP2 series winning the opening round of the season. Parente became a My QiMeritus.Mahara driver in GP2 Asia as of the Doha round in 2009.


Meritus DRIVER

Alvaro Parente Date of Birth: 4 Oct 1984 Place of birth: Porto, Portugal Races entered: 172 Wins: 20 Podiums: 40 Pole positions: 15 Fastest laps: 10 Website: www.alvaro-parente.com Height: 173 cm Weight: 69 kg Eyes: Brown Blood type: A+ Hobbies: Surfing, Tennis, Soccer Favourite music: Buzzin, Shwayze, Cisco Favourite food: Italian Favourite drink: Orange juice, Soccerade

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Meritus

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Meritus DRIVER Rio Haryanto

Date of birth: 22/1/1993 Height: 1.68m Weigh: 60kg Hobbies: Fishing, snorkeling Favourite drink: Milo, mineral water Favourite food: Pasta, pizza, nasi lemak Racing idol: Aryton Senna

Rio tames wet weather in Sepang Rio Haryanto dominated the second race of the new Formula BMW Pacific to clinch his first ever victory in the series at Sepang International Circuit. Driving forMeritus Racing, the 16-year-old Indonesian won by more than four seconds in a race which was delayed by nearly an hour due to torrential rain that fell before the start of the GP2 Asia Series two hours earlier. Despite the setback, Rio drove like a seasoned professional to take the chequered flag in 11:27.458s. Chris Wootton of Eurasia Motorsport was second in 11:31.488s while Team E-Rain’s Gary Thompson was third in 11:31.584s. “It was unbelievable to have such a big gap in the race as I started from sixth position. I would like to thank all the engineers and crew for doing a great job,” said a delighted Rio. “The win today has given me a much needed confidence boost and I look forward to the second round, which will also be held in Sepang next month.” Rio’s teammate, Dustin Sofyan,

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RESULTS (TOP 3) 1. Rio Haryanto (Meritus) 11:27.458s, 2. Chris Wootton (Eurasia Motorsport) 11:31.488s, 3. Gary Thompson (Team E-Rain) 11:31.584s

retired in the first lap after going airborne when he crashed into another car. Neither driver was hurt. “It was a frightening experience but thankfully no one got hurt,” said Dustin. “This part of racing but I hope never to experience anything like it again.” Team manager Firhat Mokzhani was delighted to be back on

winning ways after Rio and Dustin finished third and fifth in the season opener yesterday. “We knew the cars had the potential to go faster but to win by such a large margin is fantastic,” said Firhat, who has guided Meritus to the last six Formula BMW team championships. “We are back to our winning ways and long may it continue.”


Dustin Sofyan Meritus DRIVER

Date of birth: 29/7/1994 Height: 1.65m Weight: 60kg Hobbies: Fishing, water sports, hanging out with friends Favourite drink: Sprite Favourite food: American, Italian Indonesian and Malaysian food Racing idol: Michael Schumacher

Dustin wants to be new Schumacher Dustin Sofyan has big dreams. And that is to follow in the footsteps of the great Michael Schumacher. The 14-year-old Indonesian has certainly come to the right place to learn his race craft as he will be driving for Meritus Racing in this season’s Formula BMW Pacific. Meritus are Asia’s most successful motorsports team, having won 32 international titles in the past 12 years. Six of those titles have come from consecutive Formula BMW team crowns while the likes of Narain Kartikeyan, Takuma Sato, Earl Bamber, Jazeman Jaafar and Ross Jamison have taken the Formula BMW drivers’ title. Such exalted company does not fazed Dustin, who said he can’t wait for the flag off for this season’s championship. “I’m delighted Meritus have put me in their car for this season’s Formula BMW. It will be a big challenge but I’m looking forward to it,” said Dustin, who is also into water sports. “I would love to emulate my

little more but that will come with more races under his belt. “It is never easy making the step up to single-seaters but Dustin has the right attitude to succeed.” Team founder, Peter Thompson, said: “We waited 12 years to get another Indonesian driver and suddenly, two gems come along. “It just goes to show how much talent there really is in South East Asia.”

hero, Michael Schumacher, and race in Formula 1 one day but I know it won’t be easy. I’m still trying to get a good education as a back-up. It is not easy juggling both but I feel it is important for me to have a back-up plan. “I’m looking at driving for Team Indonesian in A1 in five years time and then moving on to F1. I don’t know if I can do it, but it has been

my dream for a long time and I hope to achieve it.” Team owner-cum-manager Firhat Mokhzani said he has been pleasantly surprised by Dustin. “He may be 14, but he has a matured head on his shoulders,” said Firhat. “We have been quite pleased with his attitude during our recent tests. He just needs to stay focus a

FORMULA BMW PACIFIC CALENDAR Round 1 Malaysia (April 3-5, 2 races) Round 2 Malaysia (May 22-24, 4 races) Round 3 Indonesia (July 17-19, 4 races) Round 4 Singapore (Sept 25-27, 2 races) Round 5 Japan (Oct 30-Nov 1, 2 races) Round 6 Macau (Nov 20-22, 1 race)

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Meritus team manager firhat mokhzani

Big brother Firhat F

irhat Mokhzani joined Meritus as Managing Director of Asian Operations in 1999, and led the team to championship success for the first time with a Malaysian driver (Ng Wai Leong) in 2000. With the restructuring of the team in 2005 Firhat took on the extra role as ‘Team Manager’ in charge of all the team race operations. He is also responsible for specific data analysis supporting the team’s engineers and drivers. As a former successful racer himself, Firhat knows what it takes to to create champions. He is sometimes referred to as “my older brother” by some of Meritus drivers as he is constantly by their side advising them and helping correct their faults. Recognised as Asia’s most successful team manager, Firhat has helped the Meritus Racing Team cement their position as Asia’s most successful motorsports team with 32 titles in the past 12 years. TR: You had a successful year last season with Jazeman Jaafar. You

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seem to have the knack of polish rough diamonds. That can be seen with James Grunwell who has won the Formula V6 Asia title. What’s your secret? Firhat: There is no secret really. It is not easy and maybe I’ve been lucky but I’ve had some talented drivers to work with. We are in the business of teaching them to take care of themselves, how to train properly, race craft and how to handle the media and sponsors. Once we have taught them these values, we go into testing and it is easier for the driver to improve. TR: Drivers such as India’s Narain Karthikeyan and Takuma Sato have graduated from Meritus into Formula 1. Can we expect more Meritus drivers to make the grade? Firhat: We have a good history of unearthing good drivers and it is my hope that we shall continue to do so. Earl Bamber earned rave reviews for his recent performances and surprised many when he finished on the podium in his first two A1 races as well as finishing second in the GP2 Asia


Meritus team manager

“We are in the business of teaching them to take care of themselves, how to train properly, race craft and how to handle the media and sponsors. Once we have taught them these values, we go into testing and it is easier for the driver to improve.” Series. We also have great drivers like Rio Haryanto and Dustin Sufyan, to name but two. So the potential is there. TR: Meritus Racing have been known as a stepping stone towards bigger things for drivers, most prominently your part in the early years of Takuma Sato’s carreer and a host of other drivers who’ve now moved on. An interesting new addition to the team’s repertoire is set to be backed by sponsors Qi. Can you tell us a bit more about it? Firhat: It is a scholarship programme for promising Malaysian drivers. As you know, Qi is a very passionately Malaysian company and they wanted to do something more for the sport, rather than just be sponsors of the team. On top of that, we’ve realised that the nature of the sport means the drivers mainly come from those who have the support from big sponsors or from well-to-do families. This programme will give young drivers who are not so fortunate, the chance to achieve their goals. In a way, it is about giving something back to the sport.

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Meritus

Bonanomi (front) and Alvaro in action at Sepang International Circuit.

My Qi Meritus.Mahara edge closer to their goal

I

t may have been just one point, but the point earned by Alvaro Parente in the week’s GP2 Asia Series is certainly worth its weight in gold as My Qi Meritus.Mahara now have nine points after five rounds with only the Bahrain leg to come. The Malaysian team sit eighth in the standings. There are 13 teams in the championships but the other 12 outfits are all based in Europe. As such, team founder, Peter Thompson, is delighted they have shown they can hold their own against richer and more experienced teams. “We always start the season with a disadvantage as the other 12 teams can test in Europe plus their

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cost is much lower than ours,” he explained. “However, we have held our own in the championship and to lie in eight position is a great achievement. We still have two more races to go in Bahrain and we hope to continue our climb up the standings. We want to earn as many points as possible in our next two races.Alvaro showed once again that our car can match those from Europe with his fastest lap. He was also fastest in Doha while Marco Bonanomi was the quickest in Dubai. We need to make sure everything goes right during qualifying if we are to get another podium finish this season.” Parente said: “It is just a pity

Alvaro Parente (left) and Marco Bonanomi

we didn’t have much luck during qualifying or we may have got better results. Nonetheless, I’m delighted to have earned the team a point in their home race. I’m sure, before we travel to Bahrain, the team will find ways to make the car go quicker and we can take advantage of that.” Bonanomi said: “I had a disappointing weekend as not only did I fail to win any points but everything seemed to go wrong. I can’t wait for the next two races as I want to redeem myself. The fans were brilliant and I really wanted to repay their faith but it was not too be. I will give my best in Bahrain to help the team move up the standings.”


A look back at 2008 Meritus DRIVER

Another successful season for Meritus SUCCESS and Meritus go hand-in-hand. In a year when there were many new champions in most motor racing categories, be it on two wheels or four, around the world, the Meritus brand has continued to prosper in Asia Five Asian titles this season and accolades like being the only 81st company to be awarded ‘Super brand’ status in Asia, make Meritus the team all drivers dream of joining. James Grunwell delivered the latest titles to the Malaysian-based team when he was crowned champion in the Formula V6 Asia in Shanghai, China. The British driver, who was born in Holland but races out of Thailand, won three of the last four races of the Formula V6 Asian season to pip The Pizza Company Team Qi-Meritus team mate Bamber to the title. Grunwell finished with 133 points, while Bamber ended with 105 despite not competing in the last four races. The Pizza Company Team Qi-Meritus also took the team championship with 235 points, 79 more than their rivals. These two championships were the 31st and 32nd that the Meritus team have won in 12 years. “It feels good to win the Championship but I am disappointed at the way the last race went. We went one way with

the setup, but for the conditions it was a bit difficult to choose what to do. Then it started pouring right before the start. That was not what we needed because it was drying up two to three hours before the race so we thought it would keep drying up, so when it rained it made the car difficult to drive. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off. “I’m happy with the way the weekend went. Three out of four is not too bad and being the Formula V6 Asia Champion is good to have on your resume because a lot of good drivers have come out of this Series” said Grunwell. Meritus, who have dominated the Formula BMW Pacific for the last six years, made it another clean sweep this season when Ross Jamison clinched the drivers’ title with 222 points. Simon Moss took the rookie driver of the year award with 132 points to finish third overall. In the team category, Meritus collected 378 points, a massive 99 points ahead of their closest rivals. The focus is now on the GP2 Asia series with sensational young driver, Earl Bamber of New Zealand and Malaysia’s only Formula 1 pilot Alex Yoong leading the way for My Qi-Meritus.Mahara. In the team’s first outing of the new season in China in October, Bamber earned points in both the sprint and main races, including a

Formula V6 Asia

podium finish in the sprint event. In doing so, Bamber, 18, became the youngest ever driver to finish inside the top three of a GP2 race. Bamber has continued to impress in other series as well. He was on the podium in his first three A1 GP races for his home country while he has also competed in International Formula Master, Formula Master Italy, the Australian Formula 3 Championship, Formula V6 Asia and Toyota Racing Series New Zealand. Yoong had a mixed start to his season but it was understandable as he had been out of racing for most of the year. With more time racing and several test drives in other series like Speedcar, the Malaysian is expected to be among those challenging for the race lead from now on. “We have the right combination of youth and experience for the GP2 team,” said team founder, Peter Thompson. “Alex and Earl know each other so well and in fact, Alex was Earl’s first ever driver coach. They work well together and are determined to help us to the team championship. “I’m actually quite excited to be back in Dubai. We have a special relationship with the people here and the support we get from the fans is phenomenal.”

Driver standings (Top five) 1. James Grunwell (The Pizza Company Qi-Meritus, Thailand) 133 2. Earl Bamber (The Pizza Company Qi-Meritus, New Zealand) 105 3. Isaiah-Ro Charlez (Black Tara, Australia) 85 4. Mark Williamson (Team TARADTM, Australia) 79 5. Hafiz Koh (Team TARADTN, Singapore) 77 Team standings (Top five) 1. The Pizza Company Team Qi-Meritus 235 2. Team TARADTM 156 3. Black Tara 142 4. Champ Motorsport 91 5. E-Rain Racing 67

Formula BMW Pacific Driver standings (Top five) 1. Ross Jamison (Meritus, Hong Kong) 222 2. Sean McDonagh (E-Rain, South Korea) 173 3. Simon Moss (Meritus, Hong Kong) 132 4. Gabriel Chaves (Atlantic Racing Team, Colombia) 130 5. Ryuichi Nara (E-Rain, Japan) 112 Team standings (Top five) 1. Meritus 378 2. E-Rain 279 3. Team Holzer PFX 218 4. Eurasia Motorsport 143 5. Mahara 137 Rookie-of-the-Year Simon Moss (Meritus, Hong Kong)

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Michel: Our championship has never been healthier or more successful GP2 Series Organiser Bruno Michel talks objectives and stakes for 2009 and beyond... Bruno, the first 2009 GP2 test session took place last week at Paul Ricard. What first conclusions can you draw? Those first three days have been very positive: our 2009 update kit has been reliable and competitive from the get go. Every day, track records were broken in all circuit configurations. We wanted to gain performance from our new engine and so far, the results have been more than satisfactory. And regarding our grid, the competition will see more experienced GP2 race winners face off extremely talented rookie. Our twenty-six drivers represent sixteen different nationalities on all five continents and our field contains 24 race winners in single-seater categories, including GP2. Our championship has never been healthier or more successful with the twenty-six racers fighting to get a drive in the series. I am confident that we are looking at a very exciting new season. This year marks an important

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anniversary in the history of GP2 as the championship enters in its fifth year. How would you evaluate the first four seasons? When we launched this new championship back in 2005, we had one aim: to build a category which would display and develop the talent and the capacities of young drivers aspiring to make it into Formula One. Five years later, I am delighted to say that our mission has been accomplished with seven current Formula One drivers who are GP2 graduates including two F1 teams relying entirely on the talent and experience of former GP2 drivers. This only makes our series the most successful feeder category for F1. What would you say is the secret of GP2’s success? Basically one of the keys to our success is to be able to run alongside Formula One. That means that our drivers and teams are in the same environment of Formula One and their performance is constantly monitored by the F1 teams principals and experts. Not only do we produce dramatic races at

DRIVERS’ STANDINGS (TOP 10)

a high-level, but we have become an exciting shop-window for teams and drivers. Another of our recipe to success is that we are running with cars extremely similar to the ones running in F1 and we are racing on the same track. Therefore, GP2 is the perfect training ground and stepping stone to the highest level of singleseater. The best example today is of course Lewis Hamilton who grabbed the title in 2008 only in his second F1 season, highlighting our role as the most successful Formula One feeder category. gp2series.com

1. Kamui Kobayashi Dams 47 2.  Davide Valsecchi Durango 34 3.  Vitaly Petrov Campos 28 4.  Nico Hulkenberg ART Grand Prix 27 5.  Roldan Rodriguez Piquet GP 27 6.  Sergio Perez Campos 26 7.  Jerome d`Ambrosio Dams 23 8.  D.Nunes 13   9.  Javier Villa Super Nova 12 10. Edoardo Mortara Team Arden 11 11. Earl Bamber My Qi Meritus.Mahara 8 TEAM STANDINGS 1. DAMS  70 2. Barwa 54 3. ART Grand Prix  41 4. Piquet GP  40 5. Durango  34 6. Super Nova  19  7. Team Arden  13 8. My Qi Meritus.Mahara  9 9. GFH iSport  9 10. Trident  5


Meritus

Zooming in

In Malaysia, within a span of five months from July to November last year, Meritus had accumulated a total of 146 articles, with a regional total of 485 generating over US$9 million of print media advertising value. ‘With each article, there is brand visibility coming across from the pages of the print and electronic media.’

SINCE the successful conclusion of the 10th Petronas Formula One (F1) Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit (SIC), it has been said that Malaysia will see a boom in the development of the local motorsport industry. Malaysianowned Meritus Team Founder and President Peter Thompson explains why he is upbeat about the industry in this part of the world. Motorsport is big business in Europe and the United States, but in Asia, the multi-billion-dollar industry only started to take shape 10 years ago. With the rapid development of the automotive industry, experts say it could be the next big thing in Asia, with a money-churning potential currently only in the region of US$ 20-US$ 30 million for the provision of race engineering and championship management. In Malaysia, analysts put the figure of national benefits generated at RM727.6 million over the past 10 years since the inaugural Grand Prix was held in Sepang in 1998, while the tourism spin-off from this major sporting event was estimated at RM1 billion annually. According to Thompson, the founder of Meritus - the leading multi- dimensional sports marketing and race engineering services company based in Kuala Lumpur - when he first set up his company 12 years ago, Asian motorsport was not on the radar screens of Europe. Ten years later, after Malaysia’s very own F1 SIC was completed, Singapore’s former Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, regretted that he had overlooked the potential of the industry. SIC, covering a 5.542-km racing track, is said to be one of the best in the world. The first country in Asia to host Southeast Asia’s first F1 event, Malaysia won F1’s `Best

Grand Prix Circuit’ in 1999. Since then, we now have the Chinese Grand Prix, the Bahrain Grand Prix and within two years, will have two more regional Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi and India. Asian motorsport is well on its way to equalling the values of its European counterparts. Thompson says within the past decade, China has built six circuits, with each of these facilities hosting national and international events annually. Since the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix, we have seen the growth of motorsport in the Middle East, which now has five motorsport facilities. “The momentum of the motorsport industry has already started with many young Asian motorsport careers already on track to F1,’ he enthuses, pointing out that Singapore is also forging ahead with its own Grand Prix in 2008 and is set to beat the worldfamous Monaco GP as the location for corporate entertainment and product promotions. In England, Thompson says, the industry is estimated to be worth something like US$2 billion a year. “These figures include the manufacturing of the majority of the world’s racing cars supplying thousands of motorsport championships taking place weekly on many hundreds of circuits across Europe, whereas in Asia at the moment, there are only a handful of championships annually,” he adds. With the industry linked to tourism and advertising budgets, Thompson says he has every reason to be upbeat about the industry’s potential growth in Asia, and Malaysian corporations should take advantage of motorsport sponsorship as an efficient promotional medium for their products to reach a global audience.

With vast media coverage of motorsport events, brand visibility is foremost on Thompson’s mind when he talks passionately about the benefits that Meritus offers to corporate Malaysia, in terms of advertising dollars. In Malaysia, within a span of five months from July to November last year, Meritus had accumulated a total of 146 articles, with a regional total of 485 generating over US$9 million of print media advertising value. ‘With each article, there is brand visibility coming across from the pages of the print and electronic media,’ he says. “The next big icon is Malaysia’s very own 15-year-old Jazeman Jaafar - possibly the youngest - who came first in the 2007 Formula BMW Asia with Meritus,” he says. “By comparison, the cost of training someone like Jazeman in Asia would cost a family US$200,000 in Asia, whereas in Europe, it could be twice the figure. Yet, with the emergence of world- class racers like the teenaged Jazeman, it clearly proves that the quality of training in Asia or Europe is no different, and Jazeman has proved this is true with his fifth place finish from 29 starters in his first European event last week. “It is a lot cheaper to train the racers in Asia, because of the lower cost structure, and Jazeman’s success in Europe will promote the benefits of Asian motorsport to young Europeans looking for a more cost-effective route to hone their racecraft for F1.” The estimated cost to bring the racer through from Karting to F1 is around US$7 million to US$8 million. These costs are for the provision of race engineering services from teams like Meritus. Malaysian Business

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“The venue is magnificent and is working very well throughout the year. We naturally exist within a harsh climatic environment but our objective is to ensure that the circuit looks as good in ten year’s time as it does today.”

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Meritus

Bahrain circuit to go from strength to strength

D

uring the last five years the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain has played host to many of the world’s most famous races including F1, FIA GT, GP2, BMW World Finals, F3 SuperPrix, Australian V8 and International Drag Racing. It has also become a regional international centre for corporate activities as well as a centre of the local community for charitable events and the GP2 Asia Series. The man behind the success and responsible for the continued success of the Bahrain circuit is Martin Whitaker. “The greatest thing about the circuit as it enters its fifth year and looks forward to its sixth FIA Formula One World Championship Grand Prix, is that it has become a beacon for the Kingdom of Bahrain,” he explains. “The awareness and profile created for the Kingdom means that Bahrain is not just a member of the exclusive Formula One Club but that it is now recognised the world over and as such is benefiting from the business that this awareness has created.” While the F1 Grand Prix is an important event for the region, the circuit remains operational all year around. “The largest asset is the F1 Grand Prix and this is the hook on which we hang everything else throughout the year,” Whitaker explains. “We are busy almost every day with a diverse range of activities; the track, the off-road centre “Adventure Drive Arabia”, the Kart Zone circuit and of course all our lounges and various facilities. Our Welcome Centre is open every day of the year and we are one of the leading places of interest in the Kingdom. We currently have over 3,500 people visiting the circuit every month. These are people who just want to come and have a look at the track while they are

either staying in Bahrain with family or friends, here on business or just passing through.” Making such a state-of-theart facility work and deliver a consistently high standard of experience to all the visitors year round, takes quite an effort and a workforce. “Our staffing level is at just over 100,” Whitaker reveals. “The team is predominantly Bahraini or regional in its make-up and the young team is vibrant and enthusiastic. We pride ourselves

events throughout the year. In the past the circuit has played host to many series and championships and for a young circuit this is an impressive list. We are extremely proud of our two home grown series ­our own V8 Supercars and the recently formed Batelco 2.0-litre series. Karting is also playing a major role and the development of a new permanent state-of the-art kart circuit will add considerably to the interest that we are getting from many

on our organisational ability both for racing and corporate activities and the best organised trophies for both Formula One and V8 take pride of place in the trophy cabinet as they underline the way in which we do business. Additionally, the circuit is the only Grand Prix circuit to be an FIA Institute Centre of excellence.” Whitaker is keen to emphasise that there is a lot more going on at the circuit than just the F1 Grand Prix, “The Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix is clearly our biggest event but we have a diverse mix and range of international, regional and local

global.” While the circuit has done wonders for Bahrain and the region, there is still a surprising lack of regional racing drivers at the highest levels. This is something Whitaker is keen to address urgently. “Hamad Fardan has just embarked on his latest career challenge in the GP2 Asia Championship but there are many other young drivers following in his footsteps such as Salman bin Rashid in British F3, Menasheh Idafar in Formula Renault and others such as Raed Raffi, Kanoo and Sami Favre all of whom are competing on a regular basis

in single seater and touring car racing,” Whitaker says. “The new Kart Zone and the soon-tobe-opened top level kart circuit give us an amazing platform on which to give the new breed of young drivers their first taste of competitive motorsport. The objective is to have a Bahraini in F1 and in other top level motorsport.” GP2 Asia is one of the newest series to race on the Bahrain circuit, and one that is welcomed. “I think the development of GP2 Asia is a logical and important step,” Whitaker says. “The international series has been a huge success as a feeder series for Formula One. The racing is good and the great thing about the Asia series is that it is opening up the world to the potential of racing in the east. The opportunities ­circuits and importantly business ­ to which the Asia series is now exposed make this an extremely proposition for drivers, teams and promoters alike.” Whitaker also has his favourites, “I have to be biased and say Hamad Fardan!” he exclaims when asked who he supports. “Having a local star makes a massive difference in a region that does not historically have a lot of racing heritage. We are building this at the moment and races such as this will help fast track our objectives on growing the local and regional racing scene.” Looking back on all the circuit’s achievements, Whitaker is proud of what has happened at Sakhir. “I think there is very little one would change,” he says proudly. “The venue is magnificent and is working very well throughout the year. We naturally exist within a harsh climatic environment but our objective is to ensure that the circuit looks as good in ten year’s time as it does today.”

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Qi, which also began in 1998, with its headquarters in Hong Kong and an operations office in Malaysia, today enjoys an annual turnover of US$500 million (RM1.55 billion) in e-commerce business. 32

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Qi invests big in Meritus H

ONG Kong-based group Qi Ltd, which boasts a market base of over three million independent representatives and retail customers in both Asia and the Middle East, has injected a total of RM10 million into sponsorship of Meritus racers over the past two years. The synergy which began between Qi and Meritus since the last leg of Formula V6 in Zhuhai, China in 2006 has brought so many mutual benefits for both sponsor and racer team that, within the next five years, Qi expects to pump in an average of between RM5 million to RM7 million a year, depending on the economic condition, in its quest to promote motorsports in Malaysia. Call this patriotism, but if its involvement in motorsports is capable of generating goodwill, boosting sales and reinforcing Qi’s brand image, the sponsorship definitely makes good business

sense when adopted as a mainstream marketing activity. Speaking to Malaysian Business, Qi Ltd’s Director of Investment Management Kuna Senathirajah says most part of the RM10 million spent in the past two years has gone into sponsorships and other forms of hospitality and public relations programmes in Asia and the Middle East. Has Qi discovered a creative way of marketing that has long been discovered by avid sponsors of Formula One and other Grand Prix in Europe and the United States? A convinced Kuna believes that Qi has achieved its ultimate objective as Meritus’ Golden Title Sponsor. “As a matter of fact, we notice a correlation between our annual sales turnover and Qi’s involvement in the motorsports since two years ago,’ he enthuses. Just seeing 5,000 of its customers in Doha wearing the

Qi- Meritus shirts up on the stand during the GP2 Asia race recently was already a great feeling. “It was like a family day environment, where our customers were able to interact with the Meritus team we had sponsored,” he elaborates. “Qi has its own brand image and its core values. As part of our brand development, we have chosen to sponsor the motorsports on a long-term approach to project Qi’s image as a dynamic multinational conglomerate that is always spearheading into new territories. Five years ago, we would never have thought of motorsports, but since it is capable of reaching our market segment, we decided to give it a shot.” It is well noted that 10 years after Malaysia’s very own Formula One Sepang Circuit was completed and the first Petronas Formula One was held in 1999, a year construction began, even Singapore has asked to be


Meritus

About Qi Ltd

Qi Ltd, a multinational conglomerate with regional offices in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, was established in 1998 to spearhead the development of a dynamic group of companies. The rapidly expanding QI Group of Companies’ business portfolio covers retailing, travel and leisure to interactive marketing, technology, financial services, corporate investments, training and education, business consulting and logistics. The Qi Group, through its subsidiaries and associate companies, has a presence in nearly 30 countries, including an operational headquarters in Malaysia, a marketing and product development team in Thailand and a telecommunications arm in the United Kingdom. The Qi Group has over 1,000 employees, and a global customer base of more than three million spread across 160 countries. For more information, please visit <http://www.qi-ltd.com/>www.qi-ltd.com.

About QuestNet

included in the Formula One race circuit recently. Its former Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew regretted that he had overlooked the potential of the industry. Qi, which also began in 1998, with its headquarters in Hong Kong and an operations office in Malaysia, today enjoys an annual turnover of US$500 million (RM1.55 billion) in e-commerce business. Its offerings are mainly high-end products targeted at the middle- class market segment in some 160 countries around the world. “The nature of our business and our long-term strategy is to focus on the creation of worldclass champions,’ quips Kuna. “We share the Meritus vision to develop young talents who will hopefully someday emerge as world champions.” For that, Qi has achieved its ultimate business objective as a major title sponsor. - Malaysian Business

QuestNet is the flagship business of Qi Ltd and is a leading network marketing company serving almost four million entrepreneurs across the globe. Through its industry-leading marketing services, QuestNet is a distributor of wellness products, limited edition coins and medallions, watches and jewellery, holiday memberships, and technology products. QuestNet is supported by an extensive network of representative offices and associate companies in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, India and Brazil. Find out more at <http://www. quest.net/>www.quest.net.

About The V “We share the Meritus vision to develop young talents who will hopefully someday emerge as world champions.”

V Global Management Sdn Bhd (The V) is an international marketing, training events, network management and development company focused on providing quality training to a growing number of global entrepreneurs. The V is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with offices and V Training Centres (VTCs) in Philippines, India and Canada. Its subsidiaries include V-Studios (Production Company), GITA (Training Academy) and PR WorldWide Live (Events Company). The V is a member of the QI Group of Companies. For more information, please visit <http://www. the-v.net/>www.the-v.net.

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Qi and J Meritus, a recipe for success

oachim Steffen, Qi GP2 Project Director, has been following the progress of Malaysian-Saudi racing outfit, My QiMeritus.Mahara since the inaugural seasons. He knows the ups and downs of motorsports means no team and no driver can ever be sure certain of winning until the chequered flag is waved. But My Qi-Meritus.Mahara’s success story, 32 Asian titles in just 12 years, has convinced Steffen Qi has made a wise move investing in the only truly Asian team on grid for the GP2 Asian series. He shares his thoughts with Track Record.

TR: What are your thoughts on the team’s debut season in the GP2 Asia last year? Steffen: I think it was a bold step given the fact that it was our first foray in the GP2 Asia series. I am extremely proud that we were and still are the only truly Asian team who had a relatively good performance in their rookie season. I am proud of My Qi-Meritus. Mahara who put together an experienced and accomplished team that will surely produce quality results a second time around. They have a winning history with Formula BMW and Formula V6, especially in the rookie championships, so now its time to take what they’ve learned and apply it to winning the GP2 Asia series championship. TR: What are the improvements that you expect to see in the team in the new season? Steffen: Seeing as this is the second time the My Qi-Meritus. Mahara team will work together, I think you will see the chemistry and synergy that developed during the first season. I believe this will be the defining moment where My Qi-Meritus.Mahara makes a name for itself, ultimately bringing Malaysia, their home country, to the world. Earl Bamber made us proud when he became the youngest ever driver to have a podium finish in GP2 history when he clinched runners-up in the sprint race in China in October. Bearing in mind, it was his only his second ever GP2 race,it was certainly a great achievement. TR: Why did the company decide to get involved in motorsportsand how has it gained? Steffen: QuestNet, Qi’s flagship company, serves over 4 million network marketing Independent Representatives (IR) worldwide and we believe a parallel exists

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between motorsports and network marketing. Both career paths require discipline, passion, goal-setting, and an overall commitment to success. It’s that winning attitude that has brought QuestNet as well as My Qi-Meritus.Mahara to where we are today. We have also found that our IRs really feed off the excitement connected to motorsports, especially in Malaysia and the Middle East. This ultimately translates into another way to motivate our IRs to perform at their highest level. TR: What has been the single biggest impact of being involved in motorsports? Steffen: Performance. You really see the passion and enthusiasm on the faces of our IRs while attending the race events. We have seen positive results following race weekends where our IRs have switched into a higher gear, ultimately enhancing their performance in the business. Motorsports is by far the ideal platform to inspire our representatives. TR: What’s the next step for the company and how is it handling the global credit crunch? Steffen: During these difficult times, there is no other better business that can survive and weather the storm than network marketing. QuestNet provides people with an alternative to a traditional business. Think about it, millions could potentially lose their jobs and most will find network marketing to be their silver lining. It’s also good to note that QuestNet started in 1998 when the economy in Asia was also very bleak, and look where we are today. We operate on the basic principle of enabling people to realise their dreams and that’s what keep us going.


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Meritus

“I know many people are worried about the economic crunch but I would like to assure motor racing fans that all our proposed events, such as the Speedcar and GP2 Asia Series will go on as planned.”

Dubai Autodrome in safe hands The economic crunch may be hitting people’s wallets around the world, but the chairman of the Dubai Autodrome is confident his circuit will continue to grow and host many more major racing events. Saeed Khalfan, who has been working tirelessly to promote motor racing in the Middles East, said everything is in place financially, for Dubai Autodrome to continue to shine as a beacon for motorsports enthusiasts in the Middle East. “I know many people are worried about the economic crunch but I would like to assure motor racing fans that all our proposed events, such as the Speedcar and GP2 Asia Series will go on as planned,” he said. “Our academy is also doing a good job. Our aim is to help make motorsports the most popular sporting event in the Middle East. We have also been helped by the decision to hold Formula One races in Bahrain. We have benefited from the publicity and

we hope to continue doing our bit for motor racing.” For the record, the Dubai Autodrome was the region’s first fully integrated motorsports facility. The complex, a part of the Union Properties Motorcity development, not only includes an FIA sanctioned 5.39km circuit, which offers six different configurations, but also incorporates a Race & Driving school and a CIK approved Karting track. Officially inaugurated in October 2004 when it hosted the final round of the FIA GT Championship, the Dubai Autodrome is designed to accommodate all types of

motosports events from world class to local. This multi-purpose complex also serves as an ideal setting for concerts and corporate events, whether conferences, seminars, or motoring exhibitions. Built to world-class standards, the Dubai Autodrome offers manufacturers and racing teams a perfect location for testing, prototype development, vehicle demonstrations, product launches, driver training, and hot weather car research for international manufacturers. On his future plans for the circuit, Saeed said: “Obviously, we would love to host a Formula One race but with Bahrain already hosting one and another at Abu Dhabi from 2009, the odds are quite slim. “That has not deterred us from continuing to put on a grand show for the GP2 and Speedcar series. We are proud and happy our region has got two Formula 1 races and we will continue to help our neighbours to promote their events.”

“That has not deterred us from continuing to put on a grand show for the GP2 and Speedcar series. We are proud and happy our region has got two Formula 1 races and we will continue to help our neighbours to promote their events.” 36

Track Record 2009


Meritus

Watt-er sight

The first ever night race in GP2 history took place at the Losail Circuit, in Doha, Qatar, in March and “watt” a sight it was. Using 1/3 the capacity of sunlight, some drivers commented it was as clear as day. The 5.380km track with 10 right turns and six left, made it a challenging event for the drivers, none of whom raced there before. My Qi Meritus.Mahara, had mixed success in their first ever GP2 Asia night races. Though they failed to finish in the points, despite setting the fastest lap in the main race, the sight of 5,000 QuestNet fans illuminating the grand stand put a smile on the faces of every Meritus team member. As a team, My QiMeritus.Mahara represent a unique link between two worlds: an all-Asian world with a team based in Malaysia that is virtually the Ambassador of Asian Motorsport abroad; and the Middle Eastern world through their Saudi partner, chairman of the Team, Raad S. Abduljawad. Team founder, Peter

Thompson said: QuestNet used the inaugural Doha GP2 event to promote their expanding network in Doha by inviting 5,000 fans who cheered enthusiastically for the team for two nights in a row from the grandstands. “The QuestNet fans were so supportive of the team and I want to thank each of them ≠ they have been amazing. My Qi-Meritus.Mahara have gained not only fans but real life-long friends in Qatar through the

QuestNet fans. “The Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation (QMMF), were very supportive when the team brought the car to QMMF headquarters and explained the weekend in a press conference attended by the key Qatar media. These events help to educate the media and motorsport fans about Qi.Meritus Mahara and its GP2 Asia team. QMMF president Nasser Khalifa Al Attiya said he was proud to Qatar have hosted the first ever GP2 Asia night race and hopes they can grow even bigger in the future. “Obviously, we aim to host Formula 1 races but it may be difficult as Bahrain already have a race,“ he said. “Our track was built mainly for motorcycles and the MotoGP and we hosted the first ever MotoGP night race last year. “Since then, we have continued to make improvements and we have been hosting several major car championships such as the GP2 and Speed Car series. We are learning as an organisation and we hope to eventually reach the pinnacle of motorsports.” Track Record 2009

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Meritus DRIVER

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Track Record 2009


Meritus DRIVER

Track Record 2009

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Dark, dynamic and dangerously handsome, the Chrono Compressor is a hero amongst the racing watches of Bernhard H. Mayer ÂŽ Chrono Compressor Racing Ahead Precision chronograph capabilities have been captured within the race-leading masterpiece of timekeeping. The watch lends itself to the active sportsman while remaining stylish enough to be sported on the wrist of any self-respecting social high-flyer. The dominating black dial is peppered with white, making it reminiscent of the iconic chequered race flag and allowing for the large, luminous hands to be complemented by the prevailing date digits. >> Dashboard motif dial design >> Raised hour markers and chequered pattern >> Minute counter >> Speed counter >> Center stop second >> Big date window >> Large watch case

Chronograph | Big date window | Sapphire crystal with antireflective coating | Stainless steel | Black croco-print leather strap | Swiss Quartz â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Ronda | 40 mm

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Track Record 2009

Track Record 2009 (Bahrain)  

Profile and Motorsport. Meritus is a multi-dimensional motorsport services company with a winning culture of race-engineering success in Eur...

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