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The slow road to the fast track

TIME:Jan 11, 2013 Click:167 Belongs:Industry_news

The slow road to the fast track

Tung Ho-pin plays piano at the release ceremony for Budweiser's commemorative limited bottle edition on Aug 11 in Beijing. "I think for every driver, Formula One is the goal," the Carrera Cup driver said. Provided to China Daily


Not satisfied as a backup driver for Renault's Formula One team, Dutch-born Chinese racer Tung Ho-pin stepped back in hopes of making a grand re-entrance to F1 someday, Tang Zhe reports.

After spending two years as a reserve driver for the Renault Formula One team, switching to a Porsche Carrera this year has turned out to be a breath of fresh air for Dutch-born Chinese driver Tung Ho-pin.

Though Tung was fairly close to his F1 dream when he signed as Renault's third-team driver in January 2010, he never got the chance to race.

To keep himself competitive, Tung joined the Budweiser Team StarChase in April to drive in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.

"I spent two years as a reserve driver for the Renault F1 team, and after that there was still no real chance to get into the racing seat," he said. "I wanted to go back to racing, and I wanted to be in a competitive environment, so when the chance came from Budweiser to take part in the Carrera, I thought it was a very nice opportunity for me."

Tung was speaking at the release ceremony for Budweiser's commemorative edition bottle on Aug 11.

Tung started kart racing in the Netherlands at the age of 14. He rose to prominence in 2004, when he was awarded an F1 test drive with BMW-Williams after becoming the first Chinese to win the Asian Formula BMW Championship.

Tung won the ATS Formel 3 Cup circuit in 2006 after finishing third in 2005. He gave China its first podium finish in the A1 Grand Prix series in 2007, coming in third at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations held at the Eastern Creek raceway in Sydney, Australia. He moved up to GP2 the same year.

Tung said the Carrera circuit is a different experience.



The slow road to the fast track

"All the cars I raced before are formula cars, so-called single-seaters, while this kind of car is called a GT car, and it requires a very different driving style," Tung said. "In Formula One, the speed is the most attractive part, but in this kind of car, you can race really close to each other, we can almost touch each other in the race, and also the feeling of the car is very different. For me, both are very exciting."

Tung has taken part in three races this year, finishing third at his first stop in Shanghai in April.

"It was good to be on the podium, but I wanted to win the race," he said.

"I have many competitors this year - 27 other cars take part in this race. Being in the front is a really hard battle for me," Tung said. "But I think with my experience it won't take long for me to adapt to the race. I've already got third place in the Shanghai event, and with my competitive heart, I want to beat everyone here as well."

Competing in races gives Tung more chances to connect with Chinese fans. After races in Shanghai; Zhuhai, Guangdong province; and Ordos, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the tournament will return to Shanghai in November after stops in Singapore and South Korea.

"Even though I've raced on every track in the world, I never had the chance to race a lot in China," he said. "To be back here in China and to race here makes me really proud that every race I am surprised to find there are so many fans supporting me and our team, and that's one of the main reasons for me to compete here.

"So far, every single race I have been in in China this year, the grandstands have been full, and I know more and more attention is coming to racing," he said.

Despite a move to GT, Tung said he won't stop pursuing a seat in Formula One.

"I've had the chance to be in Formula One for two years with Renault F1, and it was an amazing experience," Tung said. "It's such a special environment and all the cars, the equipment are really super high-tech.

"I think for every driver, Formula One is the goal, it's the dream, and so it is for me. Formula One will always be in my mind and always be in my life, I will never give up my dream to race in Formula One some day and to be a race driver there.

"We race together with Formula One the same weekend in Shanghai, we race on Sunday morning, and Formula One races on Sunday afternoon. We will also race before Formula One in Singapore. So I can go to F1 teams and say hello to my friends, so I'm still in the same environment."

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