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The latest news from the world of racing


Archive for February, 2013

Chris Dymond Enigma BikesSports car ace Chris Dymond and British high performance bicycle builder Enigma have joined forces.

Enigma will provide Dymond with cycles for use whilst training and may incorporate some competition. Enigma bikes based near Eastbourne, Sussex produce premium hand built cycle frames from titanium, offering outstanding performance and light weight.

“To have a bike manufacture offer their support is fantastic, I’ve been cycling as training for a few years now and the endurance side is the most important part of my regime. The fit is perfect with motorsport, Enigma’s bike’s share many core values with race cars, from aerodynamics to weight saving and of course engineering excellence, with both types machine utilising about 90% the same materials titanium and carbon fibre.” Dymond enthused.

“The bike will certainly turn heads, we took one to Brands Hatch at the end of last year on a track day and everyone stopped talking about the cars on the track, it was about the bike for the rest of day. So in the paddock it’ll defiantly create a buzz.”

“We are very pleased to be supporting Chris for the 2013 racing season. In common with Porsche, Enigma bikes are precision made and finished to an exceptional level so there is a certain symmetry to our association. We hope that the bike helps Chris to achieve his fitness goals for the forthcoming race season” Jim Walker Managing director Enigma bikes

Dymond will ride one of Enigmas Effusion models designed to be a fast sportive or race bike, combining 3AL 2.5V titanium alloy main triangle with a high-modulus 3k carbon monocoque wishbone seat stay. The front forks our Enigmas own Electron full-carbon monocoque model with a 43mm rake. Shimano 6700 Ultegra state of the art group set. Running on Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL aerodynamic wheels.
Dymond who is currently finalising plans for a full season assault on the Porsche Carrera cup GB hope to announce is his plans for 2013 soon.

For more information about Enigma bikes visit

You can follow Chris via Twitter and Facebook.
Twitter: @C_Dymondracing
For latest news

Photo by Mark Reilly – Enigma bikes.

Alice PowellCotswold racing driver, Alice Powell, arrived back from India on Wednesday (20th Feb) with Prime Minister David Cameron as part of a UK trade mission.

Alice, 20 flew out to India with the PM and more than 100 delegates to promote UK motorsport and she was the youngest person to take part in a UK trade mission.

Speaking after the trip, Alice said: “It’s really opened my eyes to new thinking and new ideas. It was a very busy few days and it was none stop for us delegates, but especially the PM.

“I was doing a lot of networking and promoting my current sponsors as well as Women in sport and British Motorsport.

Alice arrived in Mumbai on the morning of the 18th, before the Prime Minister addressed delegates with a welcome talk. She then visited Hindustan Unilever before a conference at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalays Museum, hosted by BP. On the evening of the 19th, she went to an early Queen’s birthday party at the British High Commission in New Delhi, with more than 2000 people attending, which included Mr Cameron. The BRDC Rising Star’s last visit was to the Golden Temple, before flying back to the UK on a chartered flight.

Alice was invited to India after having dinner with Mr Cameron last July. This led to further correspondence and the Prime Minister inviting her on this week’s trip.

“He’s been fantastic and very supportive of my racing. He is very keen to get a female into Formula One, which is one of the main reasons he invited me on the trip. Formula One is begging for a female driver.” she added.

Alice has nothing confirmed yet for 2013, and is still looking for business partners to be part of her journey to Formula One.

Cameron TwynhamUp-and-coming British racing driver Cameron Twynham has been named as an official ambassador for Anxiety UK. The partnership will see him and personal sponsors MRE Motorsport help raise awareness of anxiety in young people and promote the charity’s work.

Despite a successful fledgling career in motorsport, 17-year-old Cameron – who will this year contest the European F3 Open Copa Class – was diagnosed as an anxiety sufferer in September 2010 and has since undergone treatment to learn how to manage and live with the day-to-day challenges of his condition.

As a result Cameron and his family became far more aware of just how many children and young people suffer from anxiety issues, and wanted to help others facing the same dilemma.

Twynham’s ambassadorship will see him carry Anxiety UK logos on his Team West-Tec-prepared Formula 3 car throughout the season, as well as working closely with the charity to help promote its work and raise awareness of an often misunderstood condition.

Plans are also being developed for Cameron to visit local schools and speak of his experiences of living with anxiety, develop top tips for teachers and parents and also help raise funds for Anxiety UK.

Cameron Twynham: “I’m delighted that I’m able to do something to help others realise what they are facing but also reassure them that you can manage your anxiety and still achieve your goals in life. Working with Anxiety UK is a great way of helping spread that message.

“I’m sure there can’t be many environments that feature a more anxiety-inducing build-up than motor racing. But for sufferers, even the simplest day-to-day activities can be difficult. Anxiety UK makes a significant difference to so many lives and I couldn’t be happier to be doing my bit to support that.”

Julian Twynham: “Like many parents my wife and I didn’t really understand what Cameron was dealing with at first.

“Now that we have a far greater awareness of anxiety and understand that it is more widespread than we realised, we’ve spoken to many others who say that’s how they feel when we describe Cameron’s symptoms. That’s why we wanted to work with Nicky and Anxiety UK: this is our way of giving something back to those who may be looking for somewhere to turn to.”

Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK: “Naturally, we are delighted to be able to work with Cameron and Julian to develop this unique opportunity to raise awareness of anxiety disorders and promote our work to a wider audience.

“Cameron’s story is one we can empathise with and relate to. Anxiety in young people is far greater than we imagine and despite some clear symptoms many parents are often unaware of what their children are going through.

“We are confident this partnership will play a major role to reach and inform a lot more people, including schools, teachers and parents about anxiety problems.

“We are extremely grateful to Cameron, Julian and MRE Motorsport for their help and support in raising the profile of Anxiety UK.”

For more information about Anxiety UK please visit

Adrian Quaife-HobbsAutoGP World Series Champion Adrian Quaife-Hobbs has confirmed his plans to contest the 2013 GP2 Series with Dutch team MP Motorsport.

The BRDC Fairfield Trophy winner joined Team Principal Sander Dorsman, key team personnel, and teammate Daniel de Jong at the official launch at the team’s base in Westmaas, south Holland, where the team also houses its Formula Renault 2.0 and AutoGP outfits.

Twenty-two year-old Quaife-Hobbs will get his first taste of the team’s 600bhp 4-litre V8 Mecachrome-engined Dallara in a three-day test at Jerez, Spain, which starts next Tuesday 26 February.

“I’m delighted to finally be able to announce my plans for 2013, which have been a long time coming,” said Adrian. “I’ve raced against MP Motorsport in AutoGP and naturally I know many of the personnel who came over from the Coloni team, so I’m looking forward to working with them all again.

“We had a very good finish to 2012, with two strong performances in GP2 testing, so I cannot see why we can’t build on those results as we head into the first of two pre-season tests in Spain. Looking ahead to the season, naturally I have to aim to win, as all drivers do, although I appreciate it’s going to be a tough challenge. The competition is always strong in GP2 and I’m sure this year will be no exception.”

Quaife-Hobbs is one of Britain’s brightest motor racing prospects, dominating the renamed AutoGP World Series last year to become the only driver in the series history to take five race wins in one season, three consecutive pole positions and three successive race wins. The Tonbridge racer notched up ten podiums and six pole positions and clinched the title with two races still remaining. Alongside the drivers’ championship, he was also crowned Under-21 champion and helped steer Super Nova to the teams’ title.

The MP Motorsport team was launched in 1995 and entered the European and Benelux Formula Ford Championships where it had many successes. In 2003, the squad progressed to Formula Renault 2.0 and since then has been a major player on the European Formula Renault 2.0 scene. Alongside Eurocup and NEC Formula Renault 2.0, MP Motorsport entered the AutoGP Championship in 2012 and finished second in only its first season.

GP2 begins its ninth season with a calendar spread over 11 rounds, alongside Formula One, starting in Malaysia on Sunday 24 March and finishing in Abu Dhabi in November. Since 2005 the GP2 Series has firmly established itself as one of the premier one-make racing championships in the world, with almost half the 2010 F1 grid formed from former GP2 racers.

In 2013 Quaife-Hobbs will also visit some of the top European circuits including a one-off appearance at his home track of Silverstone for the British Formula One Grand Prix over the weekend of 28-30 June. The full 2013 GP2 Series calendar is: 22-24 March, Sepang, Malaysia; 19-21 April, Sakhir, Bahrain; 10-12 May, Barcelona, Spain; 24-26 May, Monte Carlo, Monaco; 28-30 June, Silverstone, Great-Britain; 05-07 July, Germany, TBC; 26-28 July, Budapest, Hungary; 23-25 August, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium; 06-08 September, Monza, Italy; 20-22 September, Singapore, Singapore; 01-03 November, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Gabby ChavesSchmidt Peterson Motorsports’ 2013 Firestone Indy Lights stable has expanded with the signing of Gabby Chaves, a standout in his 2012 rookie Pro Mazda (formerly Star Mazda) season.

Chaves, from Bogotá, Colombia, will join Jack Hawksworth as a teammate in pursuit of the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights Championship.

Nineteen-year-old Chaves will broach the next rung of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder after an encouraging 2012 rookie campaign in Pro Mazda where he finished second in the championship and scored two wins, 10 podiums and two pole positions.

“After a strong season in Pro Mazda, the best way to continue my career is by following the Mazda Road to Indy ladder and stepping up into Firestone Indy Lights,” Chaves said. “And there’s no better way to make that move than with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, a championship-winning team.”

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has won the Firestone Indy Lights Championship six times, most recently with Tristan Vautier, who also entered Firestone Indy Lights by way of Pro Mazda.

“Gabby has been successful at every level he has competed in, and in 2013 he should have all the elements required to fully show what he is capable of,” said Sam Schmidt, owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Chaves has tested twice during the off-season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

“What stands out from our initial testing is Gabby’s methodical and mature approach to driving,” Schmidt said. “He has a very strong desire to get to the top level in racing and understands what it will take to get there. I also think pairing Jack and Gabby as teammates will work well to push both of them to the front of the grid.”

After getting a taste of what driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is like during the off-season, Chaves is looking forward to working with the team full-time.

“Working with such a hard working group of individuals during the off-season has been an honor and a great opportunity to take my career to the next level,” Chaves said. “I am certain that SPM will provide all the tools I need as a driver to win races and be a championship contender.”

Chaves is also eager to hone his race craft in a new car with new challenges.

“Being a rookie in Firestone Indy Lights means I’ll have to put my efforts into adapting to the car and fine tuning my driving technique for this particular race car,” he said. “Stepping up into a faster car with longer races means I have to put a lot of emphasis on my fitness training so that I can optimize every lap in the car to keep learning as much as possible.”

Firestone Indy Lights returns to action in 2013 on March 24 at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Cameron TwynhamCameron Twynham began his European F3 Open Winter Series campaign in fine style at Paul Ricard last weekend (15/16 February) where the Market Harborough racer scored a class podium finish on his Formula 3 debut.

The 17-year-old’s hard work throughout the off-season was clear for all to see at the former French Grand Prix venue where Twynham belied his inexperience to finish third in the extremely competitive Copa Class.

Despite this being his first visit to the circuit in southern France, Twynham was immediately on the pace during Friday practice and incredibly recorded the second fastest time in the opening session. And having continued to make progress throughout the day, it was no surprise to see him qualify fifth in class on Saturday morning against a strong field of seasoned F3 drivers.

Twynham had consistently been the fastest of Team West-Tec’s Copa Class drivers throughout the weekend and lined up alongside team-mate and former Formula Renault BARC rival Sean Walkinshaw.

A chaotic opening lap and some expert driving allowed Twynham to pick his way through from 14th to eighth. But Walkinshaw remained right with him and on the fast Mistral Straight a strong slipstream allowed the following driver to nip past.

Next time round it was Twynham’s turn to take advantage of the draft, a cycle that would repeat itself throughout the race. The battle showed no signs of restricting their pace though and both men were able to pass another of the Copa drivers ahead.

But with only two laps remaining, and the final act of cat and mouse waiting to be played out, one of the faster Open Class cars settled the matter when a bold move from behind knocked Walkinshaw out of contention, allowing Twynham an untroubled run to a deserved third place on debut.

Cameron Twynham: “It’s an incredible achievement to step-up into F3 and score a podium first time out, so I’m delighted with the result. I’ve worked so hard over the winter to be in this position and a podium offers even more incentive to keep improving. I’d never raced at Paul Ricard before but the combination of simulator work at iZone Driver Performance and input from my coach Ollie Millroy ensured I was fully prepared. Team West-Tec also provided a great car so all of that allowed me to be quick straight out of the box on Friday morning. And I should also mention the great scrap I had with Sean, which was very close and hard fought but never went beyond that. As team-mates it’s great that we can have that trust in each other. I had a lot of fun out there and can’t wait for the next round.”

John Miller, Team Principal: “Cameron worked hard throughout both days and ended up with a well-deserved Copa podium, behind two drivers with at least a year’s experience in F3, so that is extremely encouraging.”

Round two of the European F3 Open Winter Series comes from Jerez in Spain on March 1/2.

Felix Rosenqvist, Mücke MotorsportFelix Rosenqvist is set to remain on the international Formula 3 stage in 2013. The 21-year-old Swede has signed a deal to compete in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship – which replaces Formula 3 Euro Series as the world’s leading arena of F3 racing ahead of the up-coming campaign – and has extended his contract with Mercedes-Benz and German outfit Mücke Motorsport into a third consecutive year. Rosenqvist finished in second place at the prestigious Macau Grand Prix in China in November, and won more races than any other driver during the second half of the 2012 Formula 3 Euro Series season.

“It feels great to finally be able to announce my plans for 2013, and to continue my association with the guys at Mücke Motorsport for another year,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “It’s been a long winter with several flattering offers to consider, but at the end of the day, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best option for my career. The FIA Formula 3 European Championship will ensure that all the best F3 teams and drivers race side-by-side in a united and strong series, and that is highly compelling to me. The competition will be even tougher than previously, but – on the back of our results at the end of last year – my sole target has got to be to win as many races as possible; and I’m here to fight for the title.”

The FIA Formula 3 European Championship is sanctioned by motorsport governing body the FIA and has been designed to create a more clear-cut structure of F3 racing, uniting all the leadings teams across Europe under one roof to guarantee large and competitive grids at each championship event. Rosenqvist will form part of a four-car line-up at Mücke Motorsport, alongside Israel’s Roy Nissany, Australian Mitchell Gilbert and 2012 team-mate Pascal Wehrlein from Germany.

”We are really looking forward to continue our successful relationship with Felix for a third straight year,” says Mücke Motorsport team principal Peter Mücke. “Felix is exceptionally fast and fits in perfectly with the team on a human level, and he is definitely one of the favourites for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship title. We now have an ideal package in place for the new season, and I’m convinced that our four drivers will complement each other and drive the team forwards.”

The 2013 FIA Formula 3 European Championship features ten rounds in six different countries, with the curtain-raiser set to take place at Monza, Italy, on March 23-24. Pre-season testing will commence at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya on March 8-9.

Lotus F1 Junior TeamLotus F1 Team is proud to announce its roster of drivers for the newly launched Lotus F1 Junior Team. The seven drivers announced today will be supported by the team in all areas of driving skills, physical fitness, health and nutrition, social and mental development, business ethics and principals, as well as PR training.

The seven drivers will contest within a variety of motorsport championships from the World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 Series through the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 to KF category karting.

Eric Boullier, Team Principal, Lotus F1 Team;
“Lotus F1 Junior Team takes our previous i-Race Professional young driver academy and builds on it to be more closely aligned with the Formula 1 team and all the benefits brought by this association. We have announced seven highly talented drivers, many of whom will be competing against their fellow team-mates from the programme. We’re offering an in-depth and highly beneficial training regime which should encourage these drivers to develop and perform at their very best. Motorsport can be very daunting for young drivers, particularly everything that occurs away from the track, so we hope to give our drivers the very best preparation possible for their future careers.”

The 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team
Marco Sørensen, 22, Denmark, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
Marlon Stockinger, 21, Philippines, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
Alex Fontana, 20, Switzerland, GP3 with Jenzer Motorsport
Oscar Tunjo,17, Colombia, Eurocup FR 2.0 with Kaufmann Racing
Esteban Ocon, 16, France, Eurocup FR 2.0 with ART Junior Team
Alexander Albon, 16, Thailand, Eurocup FR 2.0 team TBA
Dorian Boccolacci, 14, France, Go Kart International KF category with Energy Corse

Q&As with the 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team Drivers

Marco Sørensen – Denmark – World Series by Renault

How did you come to be involved with the Lotus F1 Team Junior programme?
At the end of 2011 I was contacted by Gravity Sports Management and the Charouz team to take part in a World Series by Renault test. The deal was that I had to be quickest for them to take a closer look at me which was tricky as it was a big step up from Formula 3, so it’s great to be here and I think this association with the team can only be good for my career in terms of exposure to the top levels of motorsport.

What are your targets for this season in World Series by Renault?
I had some bad luck last year where mechanical issues ended my race whilst in the lead which meant P5 in the championship when it could have been more. At the end, it all comes down to results; if you don’t perform then you won’t progress, so I’m hoping for a bit more good fortune this year and am looking forward to taking on a new challenge with the Lotus F1 Junior Team.

Marlon Stockinger – Philippines – World Series by Renault

How significant is joining the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme to your career?
It’s a great feeling to be associated with such a prestigious team. If you look back through the years as Benetton and Renault you can see that this team knows how to win championships, so to be surrounded by that heritage is a big honour for me. I really want to make the most of it and am looking forward to wearing the team colours with pride.

It’s a big year for you making the step up to World Series by Renault; what are your thoughts heading into the season?
Of course, every driver wants to win, but I understand it’s a big step moving into a new category so learning is the most important thing. Starting with testing, I need to take in as much as I can and from there it’s all about consistency and building a strong platform to progress through the ranks. I’m aiming to make a good start and develop as much as I can as the championship progresses.

Alex Fontana – Switzerland – GP3 Series

Being part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team must be a big boost to your ambitions?
Definitely! I haven’t been part of a management programme before and it’s always tough for a young driver to find the backing and experience to help you progress. Being part of Lotus F1 Junior Team will definitely help to give me those things and it’s great to have people really behind you, pushing you to do the best you can. I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.

This will be your first full year in the GP3 Series; what are you looking for from your debut season?
I competed in a couple of races last year alongside the FIA Formula 2 championship and managed to take P4 in Spa, so I have had a good introduction to the championship already. This year the cars have changed slightly and will have a bit more power so it’s not going to be an easy transition, but my aim is to prove my ability over the course of the season and hopefully move on to the GP2 Series or World Series by Renault next year. If you want to get into Formula 1 – which is the ultimate target for any young driver in single-seater categories – then these are the ideal stepping stones to the top level.

Oscar Tunjo – Colombia – Formula Renault 2.0

What does being a member of Lotus F1 Junior Team mean to you?
It’s a big motivation. Just being at Enstone, walking around the factory and learning from all the team members who have such huge knowledge of their respective areas is fantastic. On top of that, I’ve been working with people who have coached so many world class drivers over the years and their experience is something that has made a big difference to me already. It’s a privilege to be part of the team.

You’re competing in Formula Renault 2.0 for the third year in 2013; what’s the aim for the season ahead?
I had a solid start in 2011 but 2012 was a tough year for me, so now I’m even more determined to come back and push for the championship. I feel like I have all the elements in place to make a strong challenge, so my goal is to be consistently at the front of the pack in every session; taking podiums and hopefully as many wins as possible along the way. My motivation is higher than ever to perform as part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme.

Esteban Ocon – France – Formula Renault 2.0

How does it feel to be part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team?
I’m familiar with Enstone having been with the Gravity Sports Management programme for the last four years, but it’s great to be associated with a team at the top level of motorsport. I’m trying not to think too much about the link to Formula 1 as it’s important to focus on what you are doing now and not look too far into the future, but I think for any young driver that must be the ultimate goal.

You’ll be taking on the Formula Renault 2.0 series for the second season in 2013; with your debut done and dusted, what would you be happy with this year?
Winning the championship has to be the goal; even if I can’t win every race, I want to be one of the drivers at the front all the way through the season. Last year I learned that consistency is the key, so my aim is to be up there fighting from start to finish.

Dorian Boccolacci – France – KF2 Karting

You’ve been coming to Enstone since the beginning of 2012; how have you enjoyed it so far?
It’s great to be part of the team; being at the factory is a real experience and to be surrounded by people who have worked with the best drivers in the world means I have the best people to learn from. Seeing what another French driver, Romain Grosjean, has achieved with the team has also been a big inspiration to me and so to be part of the setup at Enstone is a big thing for me.

You’re competing in the KF2 World Karting Championships this year; what are your aims for the year ahead?
The goal is always to win, and if you can’t win every time then to pick up the maximum points possible through the year is the most important thing. I managed to break into the top five in the World Championships last year, so the target is to be right at the front this season.

Alexander Albon – Thailand – Formula Renault 2.0

What does the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme mean to you?
It’s great to be a part of this programme. Being at the factory in Enstone is an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from my time there. Hopefully this will give me an even better chance to progress over the course of the season and put me in good shape for the future.

You’ll be tackling Formula Renault 2.0 for the second year in succession in 2013; what’s the plan for the season ahead?
Last year was a very tough one for me, so I’m almost thinking of this as my first real season. The first step will be to improve my consistency and take regular points finishes. With that baseline I’ll then be looking to push towards the top five, the podium and eventually race wins, but the priority is to take things step-by-step and develop a good solid platform to progress. Last year didn’t give me much of an opportunity to see where I stand, so I’m really looking forward to being able to show what I can do.

Seb MorrisBritish Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) ‘Rising Star’ Seb Morris, the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault Winter Series Champion, will graduate full-time into the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) this year as part of an unprecedented eight-car entry fielded by British squad Fortec Motorsports.

The 17-year-old Welshman, from Marford near Wrexham, enjoyed a sensational maiden season in single-seaters last year in the UK-based Protyre Formula Renault Championship where he became a multiple race winner and concluded the season third overall.

Going on to win the Winter Series title, his third car racing championship success in three years, Seb also set the scene for a move into European action with a strong debut outing at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC.

Remaining with Daventry-based Fortec for his 2013 campaign, the Ginetta Ambassador – who was Ginetta Junior Winter Series Champion in 2010 and Ginetta Junior Champion in 2011 – will be part of the quartet which will run under the banner ‘Fortec Competition’. Further bolstering Seb’s bid this year will be the same crew of mechanics and engineers with whom he worked last season.

“It’s fantastic to be stepping-up to into the NEC this year and especially with the guys at Fortec, I’m really looking forward to it”, commented Seb, “Everyone who worked on my car in Protyre Formula Renault will be doing NEC with me so that’s really positive. I don’t have to spend lots of time getting to know a new team, we can just go out there and try and carry on how we finished last year.

“I know there are some big names doing the championship, and it will be our first season in Europe, but I’m going out there to win the title. We’re under no illusions how tough it will be, it’s an incredibly competitive championship and there will be a lot of new circuits to learn, but my intention is to try and win some races and be in the fight for the title.”

Formula Renault 2.0 NEC will be contested across seven race weekends, beginning at Hockenheim in Germany on 6th/7th April and concluding at Zandvoort in The Netherlands on 12th/13th October. The series will make one visit to the UK during the season, to Silverstone in Northamptonshire over the weekend 1st/2nd June.

Away from the track, Seb is continuing his A-Levels at Abbey Gate College near Chester in addition to studying for the Motor Sports Association (MSA) Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence, which is run through Loughborough University.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Matt Rao - HillspeedChampionship winning Protyre Formula Renault team Hillspeed is delighted to officially confirm Matt Rao as its initial driver signing for the 2013 campaign, the 18-year-old set to embark on his first full season in the category.

Having debuted in Protyre Formula Renault with Hillspeed during last year’s championship finale, before remaining with the Hathersage squad for the 2012 Winter Series, Rao is setting his sights on mounting a consistently strong challenge this season and becoming a regular top five runner.

Prior to his graduation into ‘slicks and wings’ action, the Oxford Brookes University student raced for two years in the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain. Finishing second in the Scholarship Class in 2011, the Briton – who also has a family home in Toulouse, France – went on to become Duratec Class Champion last year with one victory and 11 other podiums.

“Ideally, I want to be finishing in the top five most weekends and trying to mount a challenge for a few podiums but we’ll have to see where we are when the season starts”, said Rao, “The winter has gone really well, we did the Winter Series and we’ve done a lot of running in testing – we put in over 1,000 miles at Guadix – so we’ve been preparing well.

“I have quite a smooth style and the wings of the Formula Renault help that, you need to be a lot more precise with the Renault and that definitely suits me more. The team is great, they’re a really nice bunch of guys and they know what they’re doing. We’ve all gelled well and I’m really looking forward to the season.”

Hillspeed, of course, has enjoyed a great deal of success in recent years in Protyre Formula Renault with the highlight being championship victory in 2010 with Alice Powell, who has since gone on to graduate into FIA Formula One World Championship support category GP3 Series.

The Derbyshire team has also won the Winter Series title twice, in 2008 with James Theodore and in 2011 with Spaniard Victor Jimenez. In addition, Hillspeed also steered Richard Singleton to the 2007 Formula Renault UK Winter Series title.

“It’s great to officially confirm Matt for Protyre Formula Renault this year, he’s had a very positive winter during testing and we’re confident he’s going to make big strides”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “We enjoyed working with him at the end of last season and through the Winter Series and we’re delighted to be able to continue that relationship into 2013.”

Hillspeed is still talking to several other drivers regarding its Protyre Formula Renault programme and is expected to confirm its second signing in due course.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.