Ricky Collard will make his full-time car-racing debut this season in the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain with series front-runners Falcon Motorsport.
Collard joins his father, eBay Motors BTCC racer Rob, on the BTCC package following a hugely successful international karting career, though will do so without support from the Racing Steps Foundation, who have withdrawn his funding after backing him for a number of years in karting.
The 17 year old, who made his car-racing debut back in 2012 with a dramatic one-off appearance in the Ginetta Junior Championship at Oulton Park, has been getting plenty of testing miles under his belt in recent months as he prepares for his first single-seater season.
Amongst the test outings with Falcon was an appearance at the annual Formula Ford GB Sampler Day at Rockingham in November, an extensive five-day test at Guadix in Spain in December, and a day’s running earlier this month at Thruxton.
That all came following a tough summer last year for the Hampshire-based racer, who was hospitalised in Italy with several fractures and a punctured lung following an accident in the CIK-FIA European Championship meeting at Ortona.
Now fully recovered and raring to go, Collard is looking forward to the season ahead alongside team-mates Chris Mealin and 2013 series runner-up Harrison Scott, and hopes to challenge for Scholarship Class honours.
“I am really grateful to have been taken on by Falcon,” said Collard. “To drive in Formula Ford is a great honour. The experience that I will gain from driving the car will be massive, and so will working with Harrison; it has been really helpful during testing to discuss lines and set-up with him. It’s great to have one of the championship favourites as your team-mate.
“It’s been a long road back to full fitness for me – quite a hard process. But I am on top form now and am coming back even stronger so that I can give it my best shot.”
Falcon Motorsport boss Nick Streatfield has expressed his delight at signing a deal with Collard, and admits the team could grow further before the season starts.
“We are very excited to have him on board,” commented Streatfield. “He was very rapid when we tested in Spain last year, and we were impressed with his pace and consistency.
“Ricky, Harrison and Chris get on well together and will work well – it is an impressive looking line-up. We have the capacity to run four cars and we are very close to a deal with a driver.”