Jake Cook becomes first ever RSF MSA Young Driver of the Year

The Motor Sports Association (MSA) is pleased to announce that Formula Ford competitor Jake Cook has won the first ever RSF MSA Young Driver of the Year award.

The accolade – sponsored by the Racing Steps Foundation (RSF) – will be awarded annually to a student enrolled on the MSA’s Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) in Motor Sport programme, which forms part of the MSA Academy structure.

MSA Academy Coaches Greg Symes and James Wozencroft selected a shortlist of five finalists from the current AASE students – Cook, 17 from South Yorkshire; Jack Dex, 18 from Norhamptonshire; Dan O’Brien, 18 from Hertfordshire; Louise Richardson, 17 from Lincolnshire; and Dilip Singh, 17 from Cardiff – to attend a shootout for the 2010 award at Pure Tech Racing in Surrey last December.

The finalists spent time in a race simulator before delivering a short presentation about the key lessons they have learned from the Apprenticeship course. All were praised for their performances by the judging panel, which comprised MSA Performance Director Robert Reid, MSA National Race Coach David Brabham, GP3 driver James Calado, RSF’s Simon Pearson, Autosport magazine’s Ben Anderson and MSA Communications Director Ben Taylor.

Cook said: “It means a great deal to me to win the RSF MSA Young Driver of the Year award. The AASE programme has taught me a great deal about human performance and sports science, which I’ve been able to apply both on the track and off it to achieve stronger results. My whole approach to the sport has changed dramatically because of what I have learned in the past 18 months. I’d strongly encourage other young drivers seeking a professional motor sport career to join the scheme in the future.”

Reid said: “During his time with the MSA Academy Jake has shown himself to be dedicated to both his education and his racing career, and has excelled in taking what he is learning on the programme and applying it to what he is doing on the circuit. Jake is a worthy winner of the RSF MSA Young Driver of the Year award as he has all the attributes necessary to become one of the UK’s top drivers, and he is someone we will certainly be keeping a close eye on for future inclusion in the Team UK national squad.”

Cook will receive a cheque for £1000 at the MSA’s prestigious Night of Champions ceremony at the Royal Automobile Club on 21 January. All finalists also received a Grand Prix Racewear voucher worth £100.

Editor’s notes:

The Motor Sports Association (MSA) is the national governing body for four-wheeled motor sport in the UK, responsible for the regulation and administration of the sport. The MSA is a member of the world governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and holds a seat on the World Motor Sport Council. The MSA represents 33,000 licence holders, 15,000 volunteer marshals and officials, more than 750 member clubs and issues permits for 5000 motor sport events every year.

In recent years the MSA has expanded its remit to cover the development of the sport and currently invests in excess of £1m a year in the three elements of its Whole Sport Plan. ‘Grow’ targets an increase in participation levels, ‘Sustain’ invests in the infrastructure of the sport, its clubs and its people, and ‘Excel’ focuses on training future world champions and educating their peers.

The Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) is a government-funded, performance enhancing course that aims to develop students into elite athletes. It is a part of the MSA Academy initiative – kindly sponsored by the Racing Steps Foundation (RSF) – and caters for 16- to 18-year-old drivers and riders (in conjunction with the Auto-Cycle Union), though candidates of up to 24 years old can be considered.

AASE is fundamentally a human performance programme but, because it also recognises the educational learnings of the students, it allows motor sport driving to be a legitimate and responsible career choice. Students receive three separate qualifications within the AASE framework: a Level 3 NVQ in Achieving Excellence in Sports Performance, a Level 3 BTEC National Certificate in Sport (Performance and Excellence) and an MSA Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Motor Sport. Should they wish, candidates are able to continue studying for their A levels at school in place of the BTEC qualification. AASE has been running since 2004 and is now active across a range of sports, including football, tennis, golf, athletics and swimming.