Gravity Sports Management have signed an agreement with young Kiwi, Richie Stanaway (18), which states that they intend to sign him as a works Gravity driver for 2011 and beyond – a sensational breakthrough for the 2009 New Zealand Formula Ford Champion, then this year’s German ADAC Formula Masters champion.

“This is great news and a huge step towards my goal of reaching the top ranks of motorsport. It is wonderful to be able to repay the faith and funding that a group of Kiwi business people, friends and family have had in me. Over the next few weeks, I will have more details of what series etc the Gravity people will want me to compete in next season, but in the meantime, I have plenty more testing on tracks and simulators to do, and then the next round of the Formula Renault UK Winter Cup at Pembrey this weekend.”

Since the conclusion of the 2010 ADAC Formula Masters championship, Richie has been very busy being involved in winter testing programmes for various teams. Starting with a brief stint in a Formula 3 car, Richie went to the F1 circuit at Barcelona, Spain, for a test day in a Formula Renault 2.0 with championship-winning team, Koirannen Bros Motorsport, and then underwent a thorough evaluation programme with Gravity Sports Management, the organisation that runs what is the Renault F1 team’s junior/development programme. (The Chairman of Gravity Sports Management is Eric Bullier who is also the Renault F1 Team Principal). This involved four test days in France with Tech-1 Racing in a Formula Renault 2.0, matching him against numerous other ‘hopeful’ drivers, the result of which has led to his participation in the 2010 Formula Renault UK Winter Cup.

The first round of the Winter Cup was held this past weekend with Richie driving for Atech Grand Prix, after three days of testing.

“The seat/driving time I have had since the ADAC Formula Masters Championship has been great for me and I know I have improved my driving a lot, learning all the time, working with different teams at different circuits – something like 12 test days over five weeks which is well over 1,000kms of intensive driving. Then, when it came to the first round of the Winter Series, I don’t think I have ever raced in a more competitive field with many experienced locals who were front runners in the UK Championship as well as many other international drivers including the two Red Bull junior team drivers, Carlos Sainz’s son and Danil Kyvat.

“In qualifying which started on a damp track, I was on pole for virtually the whole session with the track drying, but for the last two laps I came across traffic and was held up, seven drivers capitalizing on the drier track to better my earlier fastest time – so I was bumped back to eighth. In the first race I got a flying start and managed to finish third, wondering what might have been the result if I had qualified nearer the front of the grid. I started the second race from sixth position and again got an excellent start and swiftly moved up to second and began pressuring the leader. However, I touched a wet patch of tarmac in a fast corner and slid off onto the grass and wasn’t able to continue in the race. My mistake – and another lesson learned,” said Richie.

During this week, Richie will visit the Renault F1 Human Performance Centre followed by some simulator testing and then track testing prior to the next round of the Winter Cup at Pembrey this coming weekend.