The Motor Sports Association (MSA) has announced the lineup of young drivers for this year's Team UK squad.
The Team UK programme was introduced at the beginning of 2010 to create a national squad of the most promising young driving talents in the UK.
Seven racing drivers have been selected to be part of the programme for 2011, under the guidance of National Race Coach David Brabham.
Tom Blomqvist became the youngest ever winner of the Formula Renault UK Championship in 2010. The 17-year-old from Saffron Walden, Essex, has yet to announce his plans for 2011, but is known to be looking at a graduation to Formula 3.
Will Buller is one of three drivers to have been offered a second year in the Team UK programme. The Northern Irishman, 18, competed in his debut season of Formula 3 in 2010, racing with Hitech Racing, finishing eighth in the final standings. For 2011 he will switch to the rival Fortec Motorsport team.
Jack Harvey, from Bassingham in Lincolnshire, fought for the Formula BMW Europe title in 2010, narrowly missing out at the final round. The 17-year-old will step up to British F3 in 2011, racing for Carlin with support from the Racing Steps Foundation.
Alex Lynn competed in his first season of car racing in 2010, in Formula Renault UK. The 17-year-old from Dunmow, Essex, won the series' Graduate Cup and then won the Winter Series in impressive style. He will remain in the category for 2011.
Harry Tincknell, like Buller, will remain in Team UK for a second season. After finishing fifth in Formula Renault UK in 2010, the 19-year-old from Sidmouth, Devon will be teammate to Buller at Fortec in British F3.
Oli Webb is the third of the drivers to stay in the programme for a second year. The 19-year-old finished third in the British F3 standings, having battled with James Calado for second place all year long. The driver from Knutsford, Cheshire, will race in the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2011 – his team yet to be announced.
Lewis Williamson finished as runner-up to Blomqvist in Formula Renault UK in 2010, before coming out on top to win the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. The 21-year-old from Golspie in Scotland is looking to step up to the GP3 Series in 2011, particularly after topping the timesheets at an end-of-season test.
Three rally drivers have been chosen to be part of the programme, under the guidance of National Rally Coach Mark Higgins.
Elfyn Evans won both the British Junior Rally Championship and Fiesta SportTrophy UK in 2010. The 22-year-old Welshman went onto win the Pirelli Star Driver shootout, the prize for which will be a funded drive in the 2011 British Rally Championship with TEG Sport, competing against his father Gwyndaf.
Harry Hunt had perhaps an even more successful 2010 than Evans, winning the Fiesta SportTrophy International and the 2WD IRC title. This year the 22-year-old from London will attempt to defend his IRC title as well as compete in the P-WRC.
John MacCrone competed in the British Rally Championship for the first time in 2010, coming second in the Fiesta SportTrophy. In 2011 the 21-year-old Scot from the Isle of Mull will return to try and claim the title.
The trio of rally drivers will also be joined on the Team UK programme by their respective co-drivers, under the guidance of National Co-Driver Coach Nicky Grist. Andrew Edwards, Seb Marshall and Stuart Louden are the first co-drivers to be included in the programme.
The seven drivers who were on the scheme in 2010 but have not continued will continue to receive support and guidance from the Team UK coaches and other staff. They will designated as Team UK 'graduates' and will carry the Team UK logo on their clothing and vehicles.
“We are delighted to welcome a new intake of young athletes onto Team UK,” said David Brabham. “Selecting the right people to join the programme is not always an easy job, but we are very pleased with the calibre of the new recruits, while having spoken with Will, Harry and Oli, we have agreed that there is a lot of value in them remaining a part of the squad for another year. We look forward to getting them all together for the first time later this month.”
“The content of the Team UK programme has evolved a great deal since the race and rally elite days and this has been reflected in the positive feedback from all the drivers this year,” said Robert Reid, MSA Performance Director. “From a personal perspective, I am obviously pleased that we have now brought co-drivers officially within Team UK and Nicky Grist is the ideal person to head this up. I am sure he will be a great inspiration and mentor for both the co-drivers and drivers in the squad.”
“We have been extremely encouraged by the way Team UK has quickly established itself,” said Colin Hilton, MSA Chief Executive. “The MSA remains committed to investing in the development of young UK talent and helping them to be as prepared as possible for the opportunities that will present themselves in the future.”
The members of the 2011 Team UK squad will gather for the first time at the Porsche Performance Centre on January 17/18.