Teenage racing driver Liam McMillan, 18, will be the youngest competitor in the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship, when he contests Britain's most prestigious racing series in a SEAT Toledo S2000.
Liam, from Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, will celebrate his 19th birthday on March 2nd; just five weeks before he makes his BTCC race debut at Brands Hatch on April 5th.
The ex-SEAT Sport UK Toledo will be prepared by Liam himself, while his own team, Maxtreme, will run the car during the 2009 season. Painted in Maxtreme's striking red and black team colours and sponsored by Cobra Engineering-backed, Liam drove the car for the very first time at his local Snetterton circuit yesterday (January 20th).
Liam's father Paul McMillan (himself a successful former racing driver who won the 2004 Hot Hatch Championship in a self-built Honda Civic Type-R hot-rod) will be Team Manager.
This will only be Liam's fourth season of racing, yet he has already shown his potential as a future British Touring Car Champion by winning his first title before he passed his driving test.
In his first season of racing, Liam dominated the 2006 SAXMAX Championship (a series aimed at 14-17 year olds), winning the title with nine wins from 10 races.
He had planned to contest the Clio Cup in 2006, but after taking advise from World Touring Car Championship race-winning driver Rob Huff, Liam exchanged his 95bhp Citroën Saxo for a 300bhp SEAT Leon in which to contest the 2007 SEAT Cupra Championship.
It was a good move. In a strong line-up of experienced drivers, Liam finished 7th and 10th at the first Cupra race meeting at Brands Hatch in his Maxtreme-prepared Leon Cupra. He then passed his driving test and was able to drive himself to the remaining race meetings.
Out of 28 cars that contested the SEAT series, Liam - who at just 17-years old was the youngest driver ever to contest the SEAT Cupra Championship - finished 12th in the New Leon Cupra class, having scored 49 points in 13 of the 18 races.
Liam's racing programme took him overseas in 2008, when he contested the highly-competitive SEAT Leon Supercopa. All the Spanish tracks were completely new to him, yet in a field of 40 identical cars, Liam had become one of the leading drivers by the end of the season - qualifying 2nd on the grid at the final race meeting at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona last November and finishing all three races on the podium by coming home in 3rd, 2nd and 2nd positions. He was classified 10th in the final Supercopa standings.
Liam also contested two rounds of the SEAT Leon Eurocup in 2008; a series which supports six European rounds of the WTCC. In a world-class field, Liam finished 6th in Valencia and 8th at Brands Hatch.
Liam has to date contested 55 races - of which he has started from pole position 10 times, recorded eight fastest laps, won nine races and scored 12 podium finishes.
Having raced a Leon Cupra for two years, Liam will continue to race a SEAT in 2009 - but this time a Toledo S2000. Maxtreme has purchased two complete SEAT Toledos and a spare shell (chassis number 008, ex-James Pickford 2005 BTCC car; chassis number 010, ex-Luke Hines 2005 BTCC car and chassis number 011, ex-Jason Plato 2004 BTCC car). Which car Liam will start the racing season in will be decided after the completion of the pre-season test programme - which will continue next week at Brands Hatch.
On a bitterly cold day, Liam successfully completed his first days testing at Snetterton in chassis number 008 - including a simulated race distance run - to get some valuable miles under his belt.
Liam McMillan said: "The Leon I drove last year and the Toledo are very similar in speed, although the Toledo is a completely different car to drive. You really have to take the Toledo by the scruff of the neck and work hard inside the cockpit, because there is an awful lot going on!
"It was so cold at Snetterton that it was very difficult to get any heat into the rear tyres, but it was a good opportunity to get some miles under my belt. I've spent the last two weeks stripping the car down to a bare shell and rebuilding it, so it's nice to finally get behind the wheel.
"The Toledo is everything I thought it would be. It's fast, it handles well through the corners and it is physically demanding to drive. It's like a big workout!
"My aim this year is to get a top ten result. We're up against Vauxhall as a manufacturer entry and some top independent teams, so the competition is the best you can find. We have a five year old car and a small family budget, but we won't use that as an excuse - we're going out to do our best and challenge for good results."
Paul McMillan said: "I'm very proud of Liam. He's done all the work on the car himself and I doubt there will be another driver on the BTCC grid this year that knows how to build a S2000 touring car as well as Liam. Liam is ready for the big step up into the BTCC and he's taken to the Toledo like a duck to water."
The 2009 BTCC consists of 30 races, with three races taking place over ten race weekends.
2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship April 4-5...Brands Hatch (Kent) April 25-26...Thruxton (Hampshire) May 16-17...Donington Park (Leicestershire) May 30-31...Oulton Park (Cheshire) June 13-14...Croft (North Yorkshire) August 1-2...Snetterton (Norfolk) August 15-16...Knockhill (Fife) August 29-30...Silverstone (Northamptonshire) September 19-20...Rockingham (Northamptonshire) October 3-4...Brands Hatch (Kent)