Another young British star-in-the-making is to join the grid of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series - 20-year-old Daniel McKenzie will race for the massively successful Fortec Motorsport team this season.
Daniel, who arrives in the championship after a season with Fortec in the Formula Renault Eurocup, has yet to confirm whether he will contest the National or International class. Iain McKenzie, his father and manager, explains: "We have a deal in place for a full season in the National class but International is our goal - everything depends on what sponsorship funding we can secure in the coming weeks."
McKenzie impressed at Snetterton this week in the first official test session of the '09 season, posting seventh-best time overall at the wheel of a National-spec Dallara F307. "That was straight out of the box in a car completed only the night before," said McKenzie Snr. "It was a good result and an indication that there is plenty more to come from him."
Daniel started his career in karts only four years ago, trying the sport after injury put paid to a promising footballing career with Southampton FC. After a season in Radical sports cars the Poole-based racer enjoyed two successful seasons in UK Formula BMW before switching to the Eurocup for 2008.
Mick Kouros, senior race engineer for Fortec, said: "We arranged an F3 test for Daniel at Estoril in December, and he did a reasonable job for his first time in the car. The big surprise came when we moved to Valencia two weeks later for a three-day test and Daniel topped the times on one occasion and was always in the top three whenever on track with the quick known drivers. We were surprised by his pace and offered him an F3 contract there and then. He has turned out to be quite a hidden talent within Fortec."
McKenzie is one of a number of impressive UK drivers lining up for a crack at the British F3 title; Carlin Motorsport is to field three young Englishmen with Formula 3 experience - Max Chilton, Oliver Oakes and Henry Arundel - with Wales represented by 24-year-old CF Racing pilot Hywel Lloyd, Ulsterman Wayne Boyd stepping up to the series with T-Sport after Formula Ford Championship victory, and England's Nick Tandy hoping to capitalise on his 2008 podium finishes with JTR.
The opening rounds of the championship, which is sponsored by US tyre manufacturer Cooper Tire and further supported by motorsport insurance specialist AON, by Sunoco Racing Fuels and by Anglo American Oil Company, are set for the Easter weekend at Oulton Park, Cheshire.