The 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship is set to see many new faces take to the grid, as young driver's look to take the next step up the motorsport ladder. One of these new drivers is Myles Collins, who will compete for series newcomers Westbourne Motorsport.
The 16-year-old enjoyed a successful karting career, which saw him compete at UK Super 1 level, before graduating into car racing last season in the Saxmax Championship. Myles took time out of his busy preparations for 2011 to talk to TCF about his previous experiences and the season ahead.
His first year in cars in the Saxmax series was a real learning curve, as he explains: “Moving from Karts to cars was a bigger step than I anticipated. Not only did I have to contend with the gear changes and a clutch pedal, but the weight transfer on a car is massively different to anything I had experienced before.
“I also learned that you need to finish all the races to be in with a chance of success. I had a bad start where a mechanical failure left me with no drive on the first round when I was challenging for a podium. Unfortunately the car was almost totalled and Westbourne spent the whole night repairing the car, albeit the next day we found the accident had created other problems, so my first weekend in cars was a disaster points wise.
“The main thing I learnt above anything was the importance of qualifying – these cars are so close in performance terms and the races relatively short – you only have one chance to put it on the front row and if you are not there, your chances of winning are massively affected.”
The driver, from Arkendale in North Yorkshire, enjoyed a successful first season in the series: “I ended up winning the rookie championship which was pleasing. Overall I had ten top 6 finishes, three podiums and two front row qualifying positions. Unfortunately the bad first round and a “4 wheels off” decision at Brands put me lower down than I think I deserved but hey, that's motor racing I guess!”
Despite being in the series for only one season, Myles decided the time was right to switch to the Ginetta Junior Championship: “It was always my ambition to race in Ginetta Juniors but the cost was prohibitive [last season]. The car was also new and therefore we thought that Saxmax would be a good grounding for me and it was!
“Out of all of the Junior Formulae, Ginetta Juniors is the one that I think most junior racing drivers aspire to, especially if they are like me in that F1 was never where they wanted to be. This year is a dream come true for me being able to compete with identical equipment to the other guys and also being on one of the biggest stages with the TOCA package, it doesn't get much better than that!!”
Myles' first interaction with Ginetta came when he entered the Ginetta Junior Scholarship, an experience he really embraced: “It was fantastic!!! The decision to enter was a last minute thing; we decided that it was probably great experience to enter and a good chance to drive a Ginetta for a day. The overall experience was amazing, there were some of the top drivers from around the UK there and it was like a who's who of karters and car drivers with multiple National and European Champions all competing for the fantastic prize of a fully funded season in Ginetta Junior.
“I attended on the second day and was a little intimidated if I am honest. I knew most of the kids there, either by reputation or personally and I thought “what the heck – just go out and enjoy it”. I had prepared beforehand and upped my levels in the gym and prepared a presentation which was a good thing for me to do as it gave me the chance to think about my future career in cars and where I wanted to be.
“The pressure was immense, we had to drive a course with professional instructors, do a vigorous training session with the dreaded bleep test and then a media interview in front of cameras with Simon Hill who commentates on the BTCC. I made it through to the short list to the final where 12 of us had to go through the process again, minus the physical.
“I think I drove even better on the Friday and by the end of the day having driven with all the instructors, it was announced there was a dead heat between myself, Sennan Fielding and Callum Bowyer and I was amazed and delighted at the same time.In order to separate the three, we had to take Lawrence Tomlinson (Ginetta CEO) out for three flying laps!
“In the end, Sennan won, which was well deserved. My Dad and I then looked at how I had performed and decided that we would “find a way” to get me into a Ginetta Junior for the 2011 season.”
The scholarship gave Myles his first experience of driving a G40 and he found it to be very different to what he'd driven before: “It's a proper racing car!! This year the new G40 will have a sequential gearbox and semi slick tyres which should make it even quicker and certainly reduces the step up to G50 and other sportscars. With it being rear wheel drive too, as opposed to the Saxo's front wheel drive set up, you have to be able to heel and toe otherwise you are in trouble.”
Off the back of his success in the Scholarship, Collins made an impulse decision to enter last year's Ginetta Juniors Winter Series: “Again it was all very short notice but on the back of the scholarship performance, the guys at Ginetta said that I should enter so we put a last minute deal together with them to borrow a car and we were entered.
“I ended up fourth overall out of eleven drivers and top rookie again. In my first two races I qualified P3 and P4 which was good stuff and all weekend, I felt more and more confident in the car. The set up was something I needed more seat time to affect but that will come. It was a great experience from start to finish and I feel that the racing was hard but fair.”
Having not received his new car yet, Collins has yet to begin testing, but is looking forward to getting some track time in his G40 before the season starts: “As everyone has only just started seeing the new cars, testing has been limited so far. I have a test schedule agreed with the team and we should be ready for Brands at the beginning of April. The team are aware too of the importance of testing for them as Westbourne Motorsport are new to the Ginetta this season too, so lots to do but that makes it more fun!
Miles has spent the winter period preparing for the new season and is looking forward to it beginning in April: “I can't wait! I have a new gym, new diet, we have bought a motorhome for the events so that I have space to relax and have some private time before and after races and somewhere I can review the data and videos etc. This is as prepared as we can be for this season, we are not there to make the numbers up at all and I am going out to do well this year and also the year after.”
When asked about his aims for the year, Collins is quick not set his goals too high in his maiden Junior season: “That's the million dollar question. I am obviously going out to win as I am a racing driver, but realistically I want the rookie title and a top ten in the Championship. I believe these are achievable, but there are many factors outside my control so we will have to see. The cars should be close and the driving will be top drawer but I have high levels of confidence at the moment so ask me again mid season.”
Despite it being early in his career, Collins, who is backed by Swissvax UK, The Trading Floor Ltd, F1 Simulation and Car Protect, is already looking ahead to what he hopes the future could hold: “I love the way in which Ginetta are growing and the way they are creating a career path in Ginetta all the way through to Le Mans. That would be a dream come true for me. I absolutely want a career in motorsport and feel that would come through sportscars/GT and possibly Touring Cars which seems to be seeing a resurgence too.”
You can follow Myles' progress throughout the season at www.mylescollinsracing.co.uk and on twitter, by following @Myles_Collins.