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Ho-Pin Tung bids to make history at Indy

Ho-Pin Tung is teaming up with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Dragon Racing in a bid to become the first Chinese racing driver to make the starting grid of the Indy 500.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Dragon Racing have confirmed that they are teaming up to run former GP2 contender and current F1 reserve/test driver Ho-Pin Tung in the #8 car in practice and qualifying for the 2011 Indianapolis 500.

If Tung succeeds in making the 33-car starting grid, he will be the first Chinese driver to start the world's most famous motor race.

"It's a great honour to be the first Chinese driver ever to take part in this special race, especially being the 100th edition," said Tung, adding that he was "very excited" about the month ahead.

Currently 42 cars are formally entered into the Indianapolis 500, so nine will not qualify to start the race on May 29. Tung conceded that it wasn't going to be an easy introduction to US open wheel racing.

"I realize it will be tough since it will be my IndyCar debut, but Sam Schmidt Motorsports has shown great results in the last few races at the Indy 500," he said. "And Jay Penske and the Dragon Racing team has proven they can deliver a highly competitive race car, so I am confident to have a good chance to qualify for the race."

Tung took part in the post-2010 season testing session at Sebring, which meant he made history there as the first Chinese licensed driver to take the wheel of an IZOD IndyCar Series car. The test was with the FAZZT racing team, which was subsequently bought out by Sam Schmidt Motorsports as they decided to move from their focus on Firestone Indy Lights up to the senior series, as SSM celebrate ten years of fielding cars in the Indy 500 with drivers including Ryan Briscoe, Tomas Scheckter, Raphael Matos and Davey Hamilton.

28-year-old Tung - who was actually born in the Netherlands - is currently a reserve driver with the Lotus Renault GP team in F1. He won the Asian Formula BMW championship in 2003 and the German Formula 3 championship in 2006 and was China's driver for five race weekends in both the 2006/7 and 2008/9 seasons of the now-defunct A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, where his best result was third in the Australian feature race in 2007.

He first competed in GP2 in 2007 (with BCN CompeticiĆ³n) and then in both GP2 and GP2 Asia with Trident Racing in 2008. After spending 2009 in Superleague Formula, he returned to GP2 with DAMS in 2010 as part of the testing deal with Lotus Renault GP. It proved to be a frustrating season, ending in a minor fracture of one of his lumbar vertebrae as a result of a first-lap collision with Jules Bianchi in the Hungary feature race. He was replaced by Romain Grosjean while he recovered, and eventually made a one-off return appearance for the last weekend of the season at Abu Dhabi with Racing Engineering, subbing for Christian Vietoris who was suffering from appendicitis.

"We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to compete at Indy with Ho-Pin," said Sam Schmidt at the announcement. "He did a fantastic job at the Sebring test and I'm confident we'll be able to get him up to speed.




Related Pictures

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Ho-Pin Tung - Trident Racing [pic credit: GP2 Series Media]
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, and his team perform the traditional kissing of the bricks after racing to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, drinks the traditional bottle of milk while celebrating his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, crosses the finish line as he races to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finishes second. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Andy Frame/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya is congratulated by his Penske team mate Helio Castroneves after clinching victory in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates victory in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates victory in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Chequered flag for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Walter Kuhn for IndyCar Media)
The start of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Walter Kuhn for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya meets the press after winning the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Will Power on pit road during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya in Victory Circle after the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya wins the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Penske team mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power race side-by-wide during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Sebastian Saavedra`s wrecked car is craned away during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan`s wrecked car is craned away during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)

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