MSA British Rally Elite scheme member Adam Gould today won the prestigious Pirelli Star Driver Award, landing British rallying's top prize of a fully-funded drive in next year's British Rally Championship.
It is the second time in the past week that an MSA Elite scheme member has claimed one of the top prizes in British motorsport, after MSA Race Elite driver Alexander Sims received the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award on Sunday.
Gould, 21, was declared the victor by an expert panel of judges after after two days of intense competition in Cumbria against seven of Britain's brightest rally talents, including fellow Elite members Jason Pritchard and James Wozencroft. The shootout took place at M-Sport's Dovenby Hall headquarters and tested not only the competitors' ability in a rally car, but also their fitness, knowledge of the sport, and presentation skills.
In the end it was Gould who was adjudged to have been the outstanding performer - topping the time sheets and excelling in the physical fitness assessment.
Adam Gould said, "It's a really amazing feeling to have won, and this is the biggest opportunity in my career so far. I want to thank the organisers and Pirelli for giving me this chance, and I intend to repay their faith by making the most of it next year.
"It was a really tough competition and the standard of all the competitors was so high, but I really enjoyed it too. Being part of the MSA British Rally Elite scheme has been important in helping me to prepare for this kind of high-pressure competition, and everything I've learnt throughout the year has contributed to my success."
As a result of his win in the Pirelli Star Driver final shootout Gould will now contest the full Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship calendar in 2009.
MSA Performance Director Robert Reid said:
"British motor sport is definitely on the up and the MSA's Elite schemes are clearly playing their part in that. In the past week, members of the MSA Race Elite and MSA Rally Elite have claimed the two biggest awards in British motor sport. It was also encouraging that three of the eight finalists were on the Rally Elite scheme which is developing their talents and ensuring that they are making the most of every opportunity.
"This award is fantastic news for Adam and deserved recognition for the hard work and dedication he puts in. I am sure he will take his chance next year and continue his development."
The Motor Sports Association British Rally Elite is an innovative national motorsport training scheme for the top young rally drivers and co-drivers in the UK. The aim is to train them into the best possible package for World Rally Championship teams and aid their transition from British Rallying into the World Rally Championship. As well as specific driver and co-driver skills, the Elite programme focuses primarily on Sports Science elements using the services of experts from Edinburgh University, including sports psychology, sports physiology, fitness, nutrition and injury prevention. Other topics covered include sponsorship and marketing, media and promotion, competition strategy and World Rally Team Visits.