Laura TillettLaura Tillett, one of the hottest young prospects in UK motorsport, will make her car racing debut in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship this year having chosen to pursue a career path in single-seaters – with the ultimate goal of climbing the ladder all the way to Formula One.

West Malling-based Laura, unquestionably one of the world’s top young female racers, has agreed a deal with renowned squad Fortec Motorsports to contest the ultra-competitive championship with a view to also driving in the three-event Renault GP Cup later in the year.

Off the back of an encouraging test in a Total Control Racing-run ‘tin top’ Renault Clio Cup car at Brands Hatch in January, the 20-year-old returned to the 1.2-mile Kent track last week to sample an FR 2.0 single-seater for the first time with Fortec. Impressing the team with her immediate pace and ability, Laura tested again at Silverstone last Friday, 24th February, before finalising her 2012 deal.

“I’m really, really excited to have signed for Fortec in Formula Renault BARC”, said the ecstatic Kent racer, “This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was little when I started out in karting, it feels like a dream come true and I couldn’t have hoped to be with a better team. I absolutely love the car, it’s really good to drive and my confidence grew massively over the two test days.”

Laura added: “The Clio Cup car was a lot of fun, I liked it a lot and I really want to say a big thank you to Lee (Brookes) and everyone at TCR – it’s a fantastic team. The Formula Renault suits my driving a bit better though, it’s more like the approach you have in karting so I feel more at home with it. I’m really looking forward to the start of the season, it’s going to be amazing!”

Laura will be backed in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship by TILLETT Racing Seats, ET Fashions, Puma Motorsport and Point Racing, although additional sponsorship and commercial backing is still being sought to ensure her participation in the stand-alone Renault GP Cup which will take place in September and October.

Running as part of the sister Certina Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship for registered drivers from the Protyre Formula Renault BARC category, the Renault GP Cup class will provide the BARC competitors with vital running at three of the UK’s biggest events – the British Formula 3 meeting at Silverstone in September and two British Touring Car Championship weekends.

As far as the main Formula Renault BARC season is concerned, Laura’s maiden car race will take place at Snetterton in Norfolk over Easter weekend, 7th/8th April, with the championship reaching its conclusion on 6th/7th October at Silverstone in Northamptonshire.

Speaking on behalf of Fortec, Steve Lynch – the squad’s Protyre Formula Renault BARC team manager – commented: “We’re delighted to have Laura onboard for the new season, she’s a great name from karting and in these first two tests with us she’s done a really good job – especially considering how little time she’s had in the car.

“At Brands she gained more and more confidence during the morning in the dry, unfortunately it rained at lunchtime but Laura still did a great job. It was a very steep learning curve but she built herself up well. Then, at Silverstone, it was damp to begin with but in the dry in the afternoon she found a lot of time. We’ve been very impressed and we’re looking forward to a good year.”

Alongside her maiden season of car racing in Formula Renault – the birthplace of future Grand Prix stars, such as F1 World Champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton – Laura will be working in an ambassadorial role with Caterham Motorsport as part of the company’s recently announced karting championship which is set to begin in 2013.

As the first female racer from Britain to compete in the premier class of the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship, Laura is the ideal candidate to help establish the one-make class which is set to offer a low-cost, yet high-value, option for young kart racers.

With Caterham becoming an increasingly prevalent force in global motorsport, from the grass roots all the way through to the FIA Formula One World Championship, the new-for-2013 karting category will complete the manufacturer’s impressive ladder of opportunity.

Photo by Gary Hawkins