Patrick McClughan will continue in the Ginetta Junior Championship this year after it was announced he has secured a seat with newcomers Kelvin Jones Motorsport.
Paddy, who made his debut in the Ginetta Junior Championship for 14-17 years old in 2010, made good progress and he finished the season on a high with a ninth place finish at Donington Park and an eighth place at Brands Hatch.
The 14-year-old, who was the youngest runner in the Ginetta Juniors last season and who up until last year had no racing experience in any shape or form, is now keen to put all that he learned to good use and try and establish himself as a front runner in 2011.
He will compete as part of a two-car Kelvin Jones Motorsport team line-up, with Kelvin Jones’ son, Declan, in the sister G40.
“I feel very confident joining Kelvin Jones Motorsport for the new season,” said Paddy, who attends Campbell College, Belfast and who is backed by Cimpina Ltd. “I know Kelvin has a lot of experience with cars and is very professional. It will be good teaming up with his son, Declan too.
“Declan is a very experienced kart racer. Hopefully I can learn some tricks from him and maybe I can help him a little bit too from what I have experienced in 2010 in the Ginetta Junior Championship.
“It wasn’t an easy year for me, but step-by-step, with the help of Bradley [Ellis] - who has coached me - I improved. The times kept coming down and I started to get some top-ten finishes and was more and more consistent.
“The last two events of 2010 were especially encouraging. We did a test day at Donington before what was the penultimate meeting of the year there. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the race weekend. I was able to really push and go a little bit harder. I found my feet a little bit. We had very good pace all weekend and then Brands Hatch, which was the next race, we got an eighth place finish. I just carried my confidence on.
“I now feel good about the coming season. There is going to be quite a few new drivers because a lot of those that were in it in 2010 are too old now and have moved on. I will be a step ahead of those new people coming in. It should be positive.
“The first race we go to next season I want to straight away be in the top-ten. Then as the year gradually goes on, maybe we can get a couple of podiums and possibly even challenge for a victory.”
Team owner Kelvin Jones believes that Paddy will make a good addition to the KJM-Ginetta Junior team and he also thinks rostrum results are a realistic goal for the Belfast teenager.
“Paddy has an initial year in the Ginettas behind him now,” Kelvin added. “He had never raced before, so was really thrown right in at the deep end in 2010. He had a good year though and in the last round had a very encouraging result.
“He has been to most of the tracks already now – and if he hasn’t raced at them, he has at least done a track day. I think he has got to be looking for podiums from mid-season onwards.”
Paddy’s father and manager, Paul, meanwhile, is pleased to have reached an agreement which will see his son switch from Tranzpower to Kelvin Jones Motorsport.
“We have enjoyed working with Tranzpower and are very thankful for everything they have done, but when the chance came up with Kelvin Jones Motorsport it was too good to refuse,” Paul continued.
“Paddy was, as Kelvin said, quite literally dropped in at the deep end last year. He had no racing experience at all, nothing. It was his first year in any form of racing.
“Prior to the season he had done about 1000 kilometres of testing with the old Ginetta Junior model, the G20. Wayne [Douglas] - a former McLaren Autosport BRDC award finalist - gave him a bit of coaching. Then it was basically into the G40 and onto the race track. That was it.
“He hadn’t been to any of the tracks before and it was a steep learning curve. He learned a lot throughout the season though. We got him further coaching from Bradley [Ellis], who is also working with Declan.
“Then Paddy got a ninth place at Donington and an eighth place at Brands Hatch at the end of the year. He wasn’t gifted those places. He actually physically overtook a lot of people, which was very pleasing. So it ended on a bit of high.
“Next year, seven of the older guys have gone out because of the age barrier. I am now expecting Paddy to be at least six places further up the grid. That’s going from being eighth to fourteenth to being second to eighth.
“We are really quite upbeat and we are excited about working with Kelvin, Declan and all at Kelvin Jones Motorsport.”