No guts, no glory for young gun Cao

08:48, April 21, 2010      

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Young maverick Martin Cao is shaping up as a hot prospect in Formula BMW Pacific, flashing the kind of guts and gusto that could lead the next generation of Chinese drivers to glory.

Cao, who recently turned 17, also has the advantage of being born on the mainland, which means Chinese sponsors and fans can more easily identify with him than with an overseas-born Chinese.

Kenneth Ma, founder of leading Chinese race organizer and promoter FRD Motor Sports, said Cao already has a leg up on Tung Ho-pin given his age and experience.

"Both of them are good," said Ma, the man who claims to have discovered Cao. "If you put them in the same race, Tung Ho-pin would win, but Martin Cao would not lose in terms of lap times. For a single lap, I think Martin Cao can be the same or similar, because he is very, very aggressive."

When Tung was Cao's age he was still racing go-karts and had no aspirations of entering the rough and ready world of F1. But Tung's position in the wings of F1, and Cao's steady progress outside the limelight, may serve as blessings in disguise.

One of the biggest handicaps in the world of Chinese motor sports is the refusal of Chinese parents to let their sons develop at a natural pace. One taste of success and the boy is pushed too hard, too fast - putting him in a sphere like Formula 4 or Formula Renault where his inexperience causes him to fall flat on his face.

Then all the hype, interest and sponsors evaporate in a puff of exhaust fumes.

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