Henry Gilbert, the 2012 Mini Challenge Champion, has signed for Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship outfit Team-HARD. to race in the VW Cup next season.

The 16-year-old, who made guest appearances in the championship with the Tony Gilham-run team, will become their first “works driver”, after wrapping up the Mini title with two wins at the Donington Park finale.

Gilham said the youngster, who won the club class and outright championships, was a natural fit for the team.

“It has been a pleasure working with Henry during the few rounds that he was with us in the Volkswagen Racing Cup where he performed admirably,” he said on the team’s website. “We feel that he is more than capable of doing well in the championship next season, for his age he has shown great maturity and his ability to give feed back to the team made it an obvious move for him as he looks to progress as a racing driver in motorsport”.

With some-time VW Cup racer Howard Fuller and Renault Clio Cup driver Aaron Williamson making the step up to the BTCC with the team, Gilham’s outfit is set on continuing to expand to offer young drivers a clear route to the top.

He added: “He [Gilbert] also fits very well into what we are trying to build as a race team, which is to have a batch of new young talented drivers who are looking to progress and a group of experienced drivers who can help bring them on.

“We are very excited to be working with Henry and confident that he is a star in the making.” 

Said Gilbert: “It is great to be part of a team with such big ambition and I feel there are a lot more opportunities in the future with them. They are a great team both professional and sociable and I cant wait to be part of it.”