x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Pole Position: Nurture young racing talent

It's often that the best talent is not always matched with the resources required to make progress - that's where organisations such as the UK's Racing Steps Foundation can help, and the Emirates' young rising stars need their own version.

It's a given that young talent needs to be developed and directed if it is to succeed in today's competitive world. Parents play a pivotal role in supplying the time, support and finances required and, in the world of motor racing, dad normally provides the initial motivation and role model.

Yet, there is a limit to what parents can do, and their usefulness can fade very quickly given the voracious appetite young people have for learning and progression in sport. Unfortunately, it's often that the best talent is not always matched with the resources required to make progress.

This scenario is widely recognised by the racing industry, so some senior members have chosen to put something back into the sport they have earned their livelihood from.

A great example of this is the Racing Steps Foundation in the UK, which provides sponsorship for young racing drivers and motorcycle riders who demonstrate the skills and determination to succeed in motorsport but who lack the financial clout needed to make their way to the top.

The man behind the RSF initiative is founder Graham Sharp, a successful businessman whose primary aim is to prevent talent falling by the wayside for budgetary reasons. He is supported by the foundation's ambassador, John Surtees, a truly remarkable individual who won seven world motorcycle championships in the late 1950s and an F1 world championship with Ferrari in 1964.

Also partnering with RSF are the vastly experienced team principals and race engineers from Lotus ART, Carlin, Fortec Motorsports, Zip Young Guns and Keen Race Preparations.

Surtees, the teams and other mentors and experts work closely with their protégés to ensure they get all the support necessary to compete at the highest level.

The RSF also liaises closely with the schools and colleges its beneficiaries attend to ensure their education is not compromised.

This year, this not-for-profit organisation is supporting a small group of elite competitors in GP3, British F3 International, Formula Renault UK, the new-for-2011 InterSteps Championship, UK and international KF3 karting and British and Spanish 125GP motorcycle racing.

Last year, we saw Oliver Turvey complete his three-year RSF career development programme at the close of the GP2 championship in Abu Dhabi.

The beneficiaries this year are single-seater drivers James Calado, 21, Jack Harvey, 18, Oliver Rowland, 18, and 15-year-old Jake Dennis; motorcycle racers John McPhee, 16, 15-year-old Fraser Rogers and Wayne Ryan, 14; and the RSF Zip Young Guns kart racing team that will race in the MSA Super 1 British Junior Championship and Kartmasters GP, as well as the CIK-FIA's European and U18s World Championships, Academy Trophy and World and Monaco cups.

I think this is a great model that the UAE could look at to ensure we don't let some of our best drivers and riders fade away because of a lack of support. We need them to be out there representing the UAE in international racing. Anyone want to be a hero?

Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is hoping to produce the first Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Pole Position appears in Motoring every week. Join the UAE racing community online at www.singleseaterblog.com