Putrajaya, 2 April 2011– AirAsia, the world’s best low-cost carrier, today formally announced the continuation of its involvement in Formula One™ by extending its partnership with Team Lotus for the 2011 season.
The announcement, made at the AirAsia Team Lotus live street demonstration event in Putrajaya was attended by Team Lotus Team Team Principal Datuk Seri Dr. Tony Fernandes and Team Lotus Deputy Team Principal Dato’ Kamarudin Meranun, AirAsia X Sdn. Bhd Chief Executive Officer, Azran Osman-Rani, Team Lotus Chief Executive Officer Riad Asmat and AirAsia Regional Head of Commercial, Kathleen Tan.
Also present were Alex Yoong, the Head of AirAsia Team Lotus Development Program and Team Lotus drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.
The partnership marks the second year the airline is supporting the Malaysian Formula One™ outfit and AirAsia is also extending its involvement in motorsports, beyond its sponsorship of the Formula One™ team by committing to the long term development and growth of young talents through the AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program.
The AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program, a joint initiative between AirAsia and Team Lotus is aimed at discovering bright, young talents with the passion and drive to excel in motorsports.
Those selected to be part of the program will be trained and exposed to all the underpinnings of a motorsports team.
Speaking of the partnership, Kathleen said, “Motorsports have long proven to be a successful channel for brands to be associated with and AirAsia have long enjoyed a strong association with Formula One™. We are proud to continue the relationship we started a year ago with Team Lotus, a young dynamic Anglo / Malaysian team, backed by a brand synonymous with motor racing.
“Aside from the creative activation, digital and social media campaigns, the association with one of the world’s most successful motorsport brands also gives us an opportunity to tap into a wider consumer base, and allows us to market the AirAsia brand to promote our routes and network of our services in new and existing markets.”
“While we continue to leverage on our partnership with Team Lotus, we are also excited at the opportunity offered through the AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program which provides us with the platform to develop more talent, more of our stars, our own content and ultimately, our own heroes.”
Riad Asmat, Team Lotus CEO and GP2 Team AirAsia Team Principal, said “On behalf of Team Lotus and Team AirAsia I am absolutely delighted that we have now unveiled the Team Lotus AirAsia Driver Development Program. Since the very first days of Team Lotus we have wanted to give young drivers from Asia and around the world the chance to develop their talents and use our experience to help them achieve their goals, on and off track. Through Team Lotus in F1™ and Team AirAsia in GP2 we have the perfect platforms to provide aspiring World Champions with a clear route to the very top and with AirAsia as our key partner in the Program we have a team of people to call on whose core philosophy is about making dreams come true.”
The launch of the program, which culminated with LIVE runs of the Team Lotus Formula One™ car by team drivers, Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, as well as AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program driver Alexander Rossi, on the streets of Putrajaya also included a flyby by AirAsia’s Team Lotus branded A320 aircraft. The event was also attended by the youngsters who are currently part of the AirAsia Team Lotus Driver Development Program. Besides the live run and the meet and greet session with Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, the public had the opportunity to go on the kart and pocket bike rides which were made available for free.