An emotional and astonished Oliver Rowland received the top award at the AUTOSPORT Awards on Sunday at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. The Racing Steps Foundation driver was presented with the prestigious McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award by Steve Rider in company with McLaren F1’s Martin Whitmarsh and BRDC President, Derek Warwick.
With this great achievement, Oliver joins the realms of past winners David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Paul di Resta. The win involves a McLaren F1 test drive, £100,000 and BRDC membership (full details at end of release).
Following a winning 2011, the four open-wheel RSF racers have their plans for 2012 finalised. The unique Racing Steps Foundation initiative to help talented young British racers to achieve their dreams of a professional race driving career, is preparing to start its fifth year.
James Calado - 22 year old James from Cropthorne, Worcestershire, drove brilliantly in his debut year in GP3, so much so that his six podiums in 16 races earned him a score of 55 points and the title of Vice-Champion.
Not content with that, James managed a win on his GP2 race weekend debut in the reversed grid sprint at the non-championship GP2 Final at Abu Dhabi in front of a duly impressed Formula One crowd. James is to compete in GP2 next year, again with Lotus ART, hoping to start 2012 in the manner in which he ended his 2011 season.
France-based Lotus ART has an unsurpassed record in the main feeder series for Formula One, with past GP2 drivers including F1 aces Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado.
Jack Harvey – the 18 years-old Bassingham, Lincolnshire driver finished ninth in the British F3 International Championship in his rookie year racking up five podium finishes and a win. Jack is looking forward to returning to the series in 2012 for a second tilt at the title with Carlin, the most successful F3 team in the history of the championship.
Oliver Rowland– from Northampton, the 19 year old became Formula Renault UK Vice Champion this by achieving 13 podium visits in his debut year in the series. Oliver, driving for Championship-winning Fortec Motorsports, scored four wins in the 20-race series. He also won the Graduate Cup with 17 wins in the rookie category and claimed the Formula Renault UK Finals title with four out of six wins in the mini winter series. In 2012, the newly crowned McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award winner has RSF backing to compete in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup with Fortec.
Jake Dennis– the 16 year old from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, having stepped up from a successful last season in karting – Jake was the 2010 CIK-FIA U18 World Karting Champion - won the InterSteps Championship in its first year. Jake scored 16 podiums including eight wins in the 20-race series and is now ready to step up to the Formula Renault UK series in 2012 with Fortec Motorsports.
“I would like to congratulate Oliver Rowland on achieving a truly great accolade against very strong competition” said RSF founder, Graham Sharp. “The fourth year of the RSF has seen some remarkable results and we will continue to help selected British talent with holistic programmes of support involving all aspects of the very challenging route to the top of international motor sport.”
Racing Steps Foundation – additional support for 2012
The Foundation’s continued support of the InterSteps Championship is also confirmed today:
“We see InterSteps as a crucial stepping stone for junior racers making their transition from karts to single-seater race cars while avoiding conflicts with their education” comments the RSF’s Derek Walters. “As the late Martin Hines made clear to us when we started, the move represents a far bigger change than is generally understood. We would like to see InterSteps grow in influence to help foster future generations of professional British race driving talent.”
Motor Sports Association - Also to be continued is the RSF’s support of the MSA’s Academy. In the second year of the RSF’s three year MSA support programme, the emphasis will again be to help educate under-18 licence holders on all the priorities of their approach, including personal fitness, diet and education as well as race craft and data analysis.
2012 will see a revised programme for the MSA/RSF educational Road Show that has proved to be a great draw in its first year. The Performance Master Classes will be managed to reach a larger audience of young hopefuls and their parents. Details to be released by the MSA.
The McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award was inaugurated in 1989, when future Formula 1 star David Coulthard won. Since then it has grown to include driving and fitness tests for six finalists each year, with the winner being announced at the AUTOSPORT Awards every December.
The aim is to boost the prospects of young British racing talent and the list of former winners is impressive. As well as David Coulthard, 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button, Force India driver Paul di Resta, multiple IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, DTM aces Gary Paffett and Jamie Green, RSF Graduate Oliver Turvey (2006) and sportscar stars Anthony Davidson, Oliver Gavin, Jonny Kane, and Darren Turner are all among the 22 previous winners.
This year’s six finalists were tested at Silverstone in November, in F2, Mercedes DTM and McLaren GT3 machinery. Interviews with the judging panel followed, before the 2011 winner, the RSF’s Oliver Rowland, was announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 4th December.
The 23rd Award victor clinches a McLaren F1 test, £100,000, BRDC membership, a supply of Puma racewear for 2012 and a TW Steel watch.