Valle Mäkelä, 2004 UK Formula Ford Champion, has been officially confirmed as Manor Motorsport’s fourth challenger in the 2006 Formula Renault UK Championship having made a shock switch from Nexa Racing after just two races of the new season.

The 20-year-old, who approached Manor following the opening meeting of the year at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit last month, this week signed a deal to complete his first season in the slicks and wings category with the reigning champions and is now confident of becoming a true force in the world renowned series.

After becoming a multiple championship winner in karting throughout his native Finland, Mäkelä went on to enjoy great success in UK Formula Ford, finishing third overall during only his second season of car racing in 2003 before going on to claim a superb title victory with 10 race wins from 20 starts the following year.

In 2005, the Finn turned his attentions to the World Touring Car Championship, posting a best race result of 10th position during the British round at Silverstone. But Makela is a single-seater racer at heart and having agreed terms with Manor for the remainder of 2006, he is fully focused on repeating his Formula Ford success in Formula Renault UK.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have all four cars on the grid and to have completed a deal with Valle is fantastic news for Manor”, commented team manager Tony Shaw.

Alongside Mäkelä’s shock signing, a further boost for Manor is the news its Portuguese star Joao Vasconcelos will finally make his season’s bow at Oulton Park next weekend having been forced to miss the first two races of the season at Brands Hatch.

Mäkelä will make his competitive debut as a Manor Motorsport driver at Oulton Park on 13th/14th May for the third and fourth rounds of the Formula Renault UK Championship, joining Vasconcelos, French star Franck Mailleux and Chinese sensation Cheng Congfu.