Hillspeed have announced their first signing for the 2022 GB3 Championship, with Canadian F1600 champion Nick Gilkes stepping up.
Also winning the Ontario F1600 Championship last year, Gilkes tested with the Derbyshire outfit at Silverstone in November, impressing in the outgoing Tatuus BF3-020, an evolution of the F4-016.
That was his first taste of slicks-and-wings machinery, with GB3 introducing an upgraded power and aero package for 2022 with the MSV-022.
He started racing in Barbados, before entering the karting scene in Canada once his family returned there.
The impressive performances began to pile up, winning the 2016 Goodwood Kartways Novice Club title and the Pfaff Kartsport Cup in 2018.
A runner-up spot in the US Grand Nationals followed in 2019, with the Kartstars Canada Briggs Junior title and the Goodwood Kartways Junior Championship in 2020.
His first season out of karting saw him win the Ontario and Canadian F1600 titles, 15 wins across both championships understandably earning him ‘Rookie of the Year’.
Gilkes then moved to the UK in late 2021 to contest the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy at Brands Hatch and Silverstone respectively.
He put in an impressive performance in Northamptonshire, gaining 13 places and finishing in the top 20, while fellow Formula Ford graduate with Douglas Motorsport, Max Esterson took the overall spoils.
Nick isn’t the first single-seater racer in the family; his older sister Megan became the youngest winner in W Series history in 2019, having tested with Hillspeed before joining the championship.
Their father Brent also raced classic Formula Fords in the eighties.
The 16-year-old is supported by Contest of Speed Sim Racing League and MIR Raceline USA, and also by Hillspeed Team Principal Richard Ollerenshaw.
“We are absolutely delighted Nick will be racing with us in GB3 this season,” he said.
“He’s a great young driver with a lot of potential and over the last three years Hillspeed has built an excellent relationship with the Gilkes family.
“Nick had a very strong first season in cars in F1600 in Canada, winning two titles and lots of races, and while the move to GB3 will be a big step we can see he clearly has the ability.
“Hillspeed has a long history of working with and developing overseas drivers, and with considerable success over the years.
“From drivers like Ahmad Al Harthy, who has gone on to become a multiple champion in international GT racing, to more recent successes like Sasakorn Chaimongkol in BRDC British F3.
“We’re now looking forward to helping Nick realise his potential in GB3.”
Nick Gilkes added: “I am thrilled to be graduating into GB3 with Hillspeed, especially after a whirlwind season this past year.
“I had dreams of winning in my first season in Canadian F1600, and felt a realistic goal was to score podiums, but to win 15 races in my rookie year was way more than I initially could have hoped for,” he said.
“At the end of the season, I came to England for the [Formula Ford] Festival and Walter Hayes and then had the opportunity to test with Hillspeed for the first time in GB3 at Silverstone.
“The test went very well and, with help from my family as well as long term sponsor Contest of Speed Sim Racing League, and new sponsor MIR Raceline USA, we’ve agreed a deal to race in GB3 in 2022 and now I can’t wait to get started in February with a test program.
“In the meantime I will be building my fitness levels, running a couple of races in the US, and doing a lot of sim work to ensure I can repay the faith that Richard and Morgan [Ollerenshaw] at Hillspeed, and my sponsors, have shown in me.”
Hillspeed ran a partial campaign last season, taking a debut podium with Jonathan Browne who competed the last three rounds with the team before moving Stateside into Indy Pro 2000.
Browne also took a ninth-place finish at Oulton Park and sixth in the final race of the year at Donington Park, alongside Flynn Jackes.