Peter Thompson has been involved in motorsport for the last 35 years. With his brothers he started Ireland’s automotive industry in 1983 and together with Frank Costin (brother of Mike Costin from Cosworth) they designed and raced Ireland’s first GT sportscar. The TMC Costin company was subsequently sold to Don Panoz in 1988 and the design formed the basis of the Panoz Roadster and the now-famous Panoz automotive company in the USA. Thompson introduced Panoz to Adrien Reynard in 1995, leading to the first Panoz le Mans participation and of course the Panoz Champ Car Series single-seaters (later rebranded Indycars) went on to win the Indy 500 four times.
Following successful participation in European championships including Formula Vauxhall, Formula Opel Lotus, Formula 3 and Formula 3000 Thompson was invited by his Marlboro sponsor to establish the Marlboro-Castrol Meritus Formula Asia 2000 team in 1996. Their first champion Narain Karthikeyan went on to race with the Jordan F1 team ten years later, as did Takuma Sato who joined the Honda F1 team.
Over the past two decades in Asia, Meritus.GP has won 36 Asian FIA championships and helped many more drivers on their way to the top of the sport. Our first of seven Formula BMW champions Ho Pin Tung tested the BMW F1 car in 2003 whilst 2007 Formula BMW champion Malaysian Jazeman Jaafar finished second in the 2012 British F3 Championship and went on to test the Petronas Mercedes F1 car alongside Michael Schumacher.
Rio Haryanto was our Formula BMW Asia Pacific champion in 2009, followed by winning in GP3 and GP2 in Europe. Rio is now in his inaugural season as a full time F1 driver with the Manor F1 team and is the worldwide ambassador for F4SEA.
2015 24-Hours le Mans winner Earl Bamber was our Formula BMW 2006 champion (Daniel Ricciardo was 2nd) and took the vice championship in 2008 FV6 Asia, powered by Renault, while his team mate James Grunwell was the champion. Earl won a podium with Meritus GP2 Asia (powered by Renault) in 2009.
In 2010 Luca Filippi won the GP2 support race at the Bahrain F1GP helping the Meritus GP2 team to win the 2010 GP2 Asia vice championship. Our GP2 Asia drivers included Hiroki Yoshimoto, Alexander Rossi, Marco Bonanomi and Alvaro Parente.