Champ Car is going to race in China in 2007, but Champ
Car is an unknown quantity in China so the race promoter doesn't have a
lot to sell. However, that could soon change if German F3 points
leader Ho-Pin Tung is successful in getting Champ Car to give him a test
Tung lives in Holland so he carries a Dutch citizenship,
but he's also Chinese, which could make him a perfect fit for Champ
Car's new races, soon to be announced, in Holland and China.
I caught up with Tung in Montreal this past weekend.
MARK CIPOLLONI: Welcome to Montréal.
Ho-Pin Tung: Thank you.
Q. Ho-Pin is a Dutch-Chinese, Dutch citizenship, am I correct?
Ho-Pin Tung: Yes.
Q. Chinese ancestry.
Ho-Pin Tung: Correct.
Q. I understand you've been driving in German F3
this year, is that correct?
Ho-Pin Tung: Yeah, that's correct. Been racing there this year. Pretty
successful. And so far I have won six races. With four races left, I'm leading
the championship by 20 points. Hopefully next three races we can keep
this pace and try to get the championship eventually.
Q. Before that you raced in Formula BMW, is that correct?
Ho-Pin Tung in Montreal
Ho-Pin Tung: Yeah, I did Formula BMW Asia in 2003. I won the
championship. After that I got a chance to drive the BMW Williams
Formula One car. This was in December 2003, which was a fantastic
experience, of course.
Ho-Pin, I understand that you didn't run a Dallara this year in F3, is
Ho-Pin Tung: That's true. Dallara has been dominating Formula 3 in
Europe the last couple years. I had to stick to one of the Lola
chassis for European Formula 3. Lola, being a British
manufacturer, set up a whole new project to try to fight into the
Formula 3 competition in Europe.
It was, for me as a driver, really interesting to be so much involved in
developing a car. Made myself a lot more complete as a racing driver.
Learned how to give the proper feedback about the car. We did a little
work together with Adam Airey, the designer of the Formula 3 car. He was
attending a lot of the races.
I was being able to set the car, to make developments to the car, which
suit me as a driver. That was a very interesting part for me of the
season. I really learned a lot from that.
Q. I understand all the engines aren't equal in F3.
Ho-Pin Tung: Yeah, there's quite some changes in Formula 3 engine-wise
the last couple of years. Before you had all the domestic championship,
like Opel was dominating Germany, Honda was Britain. So you had all
Now you have Mercedes came into Formula 3 a couple years ago. They've
been really, really strong the last few years. And you can really see it
at the international races. They are dominating.
Q. So what kind of engine did you run?
Ho-Pin Tung: We run an Opel engine, yeah.
Q. There's a lot of Chinese in this world. There's a lot of Chinese in
China, a lot of Chinese outside of China. Do you feel they would take an
interest in the Chinese driver in a top level series like Champ Car?
Would that excite the Chinese around the world?
Ho-Pin Tung: Well, for sure. I'm convinced that many -- of course, me
being a European Chinese, being raised, grown -- born and raised in
Holland, I think a lot of people would be able to identify themselves
with me. There are many Chinese out of China.
Of course, besides that it's also great to see that even in China we are
really -- I'm really closely watched by the big TV stations, by all the
writing media. Yeah, that's a great response for me.
Q. So you live in The Netherlands?
Ho-Pin Tung: I do. I was born there. Raised over there. Yeah, it's my
Q. But your parents are Chinese, is that correct?
Ho-Pin Tung: Yeah. They emigrated I think like 28 years ago,
something like that, from China to Holland. They were originally from
Wenzhou, a city in the Zhejiang province in southern China.
Q. I understand you speak a number of languages, is that correct?
Ho-Pin Tung: Yeah. I speak Dutch, German, English, Chinese, French. My
Mandarin, I'm still improving on that. Of course, I grew up in Holland,
so it's a thing I have to work at. But I'm gradually improving.
Q. How did you learn all these languages?
Ho-Pin Tung: I've been to regular school in Holland, the pre-university
college. Went to university to do law and economics. But my
racing duties were taking so much time I couldn't finish that. So now
I'm full-time focusing on my racing career.
Q. So what brings you here to Montréal?
Ho-Pin Tung: Well, of course, I've been to a Champ Car race in Denver last
year. That was a great experience. To be here in Montréal again to visit
Champ Car is great. It's a fantastic race. I enjoyed it very much last
year. I enjoy it again now.
Q. You may win an F3 championship this year the way it looks. What's
your next step? Where are you looking forward to going next?
Ho-Pin Tung: Well, obviously I really am very keen to make a step up.
Champ Car is a very interesting series. Of course, there are many
I think GP2 would be great. DTM is an option. Champ Car would be
fantastic. Yeah, we have to see what's the best option for me.
Q. There's some strong rumors of a possible race in Assen, as well as in
China, next year for the Champ Car. You being Dutch and Chinese, would
that help you if they have races in those locations to find sponsorship
to help you move up?
Ho-Pin Tung: Well, it would surely be very interesting. That's a very
interesting point about Champ Car. It's a great series. They've got new
cars next year coming up. It looks very promising. And the future for the
series with Assen and China, you know, it can work on both
sides for me. It would be great to be competing in both countries.
In Holland we get a lot of support from the media, also from China. Last
week at the German F3 race there were eight journalists from China who came over, including
China Central Television, CCT. Yeah, that would be a fantastic
opportunity to be one of the
representatives for both of the races, of course.
Q. There's been a number of drivers recently who have made a step up
from Formula 3 level horsepower car up to Formula One even. Sebastien
Vettel most recently this past weekend stepped right in and was fastest
on Friday in the BMW Sauber.
These Champ Cars here are 750 to 800 horsepower. What is an F3 car? How
Ho-Pin Tung: It's 210, 216.
Q. That's a big jump, an almost 600-horsepower jump. Do you feel you can
do something like that?
Ho-Pin Tung: Well, basically I feel I'm ready for that. In Formula 3,
you really learn to get -- to drive the car which has a lot of
downforce. Also engine power is something you get used to, I'd say,
Formula 3 is extremely competitive in Europe. You really learn to race,
how to race a proper racing car. You can see, like you said, with
Vettel, who jumped straight from Formula 3 to Formula One. You have
Hamilton, Rosberg who are breaking into F1 from GP2. I think it's a very good
step up. Really a good basis to step up to a quicker series.
Q. Very interesting. So is your goal to try to get a test in
Ho-Pin Tung: Yeah, that would be a fantastic opportunity I think,
especially looking at the fact that Champ Car will be competing in Assen
and China next year. For me, it makes it even more interesting, of
It's a great series and got a very nice future with all the
technological improvements. Yeah, that would be fantastic.
Q. Where do you live in The
Ho-Pin Tung: No, it's about 100 kilometers from Amsterdam, quite near
the German border. For me it's quite convenient for me doing the German
championship, of course. But it's nice.
Q. Have you driven the Assen track?
Ho-Pin Tung: Yeah, we recently raced there. Somehow, I never have had
much luck at Assen. I'm always quick over there, but couldn't translate
it into a good result. But, yeah, it's a nice venue.
Of course, everybody knows it from MotoGP. But they recently made quite
some improvements on the track to make it more suitable for cars as
well. I think they succeeded in that.
Surely for a Champ Car it would be pretty quick, I think, and with a lot
of high-speed corners so very exciting.
Q. I understand some of the corners are superelevated, banked.
Ho-Pin Tung: Yeah. There's one corner called Stekkenwal, which in
Formula 3 in fifth gear -- I don't know exactly the speed, but 170
kilometers per hour. Champ Car would probably be faster. Yeah, they've
got some quite exciting corners.
The one before the chicane for start/finish is also flat out in sixth
gear, 230 clicks in Formula 3 already. Imagine arriving with a Champ Car
with 800 horsepower, that would be...
Q. Interesting. And have you seen the Zhuhai track?
Ho-Pin Tung: Yeah, I've been there a couple of times. Did some events
there. Drove there around with some racing cars, different racing cars.
Yeah, it's a very big and nice venue.
I think with some minor adjustments, it would definitely be suitable for
Champ Car, as well. They got all the facilities over there. Yeah, I
think it would be really nice if Champ Car as well to be in China.
Q. Very good. Thank you very much if your time today. I wish you a lot
of luck with your future.
Ho-Pin Tung: Thanks a lot.
Q. Hopefully we'll see you in Champ Car here someday.
Ho-Pin Tung: I hope so soon.
Q. Thank you.
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