MSA unveils 2012 Team UK national squad and expanded MSA Academy
The Motor Sports Association (MSA), governing body for UK motor sport, has confirmed the young drivers that have been selected to form this year's Team UK national squad. In addition, the MSA has unveiled plans to extend the membership of the MSA Academy to include a selection of the most promising young drivers from various domestic championships.
Officially unveiled today at Autosport International show in Birmingham, the racing drivers selected to join the MSA's driver development scheme under the guidance of National Race Coach David Brabham, are:
Jack Harvey, age 18 from Bassingham, Lincolnhire
The three rally drivers selected to join the programme under the guidance of new National Rally Coach James Wozencroft, are:
Mark Donnelly, age 20 from Omagh, Tyrone
National Co-driver Coach, Nicky Grist, will be working with the following young British co-drivers:
Andrew Edwards, age 25 from Aberystwyth, Ceredigion
"We are very excited by the make-up of this year's squad," says David Brabham, MSA National Race Coach. "Oliver obviously claimed the McLaren Autosport Young Driver title and we are looking forward to working with him for the first time, while Alex will have learned a lot from that shoot-out experience. Indeed he has already gained a place on the FIA Institute Driver Academy, as has Lewis Williamson who was with us last year, and this will further extend the training programme and development that both drivers receive. We welcome Josh Hill and Nick Yelloly to the squad for the first time, as well as Josh Webster who becomes the first graduate of the MSA's Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence programme at Loughborough College to take the step up to Team UK."
With Mark Higgins' own rallying commitments curtailing his involvement with the programme, James Wozencroft will take up the position of National Rally Coach, confirming his position as one of the leading coaches working in UK motor sport.
"We're delighted to have Elfyn and John back for another year as both have made significant progress in the past 12 months," says James. "Mark Donnelly had a really impressive couple of years and we are really looking forward to working with him."
Former WRC co-driver Nicky Grist will again take charge of developing the co-drivers, but has plans to change things for this year. "The art of co-driving is so specialised that it's very difficult to fit the guys into the overall Team UK programme, so we're going to create a new schedule for them. Of course, if something is happening with the drivers that can benefit the co-drivers, then we'll incorporate that, but I think we can have a big impact with some more bespoke training."
Nicky is also making a further three places available for younger co-drivers to receive help and advice throughout the year and a chance to become part of the Academy structure. An application form is available from the MSA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
"These youngsters would be able to feed up to the elite side of the Academy in future years," said Grist, "so it's a good chance for us to work with them a bit more closely and provide the sort of guidance that can really help in the early stages of a career. A good co-driver is one that is keen and willing to work for the opportunities that present themselves, so I'll be interested to see who might apply."
Expanded MSA Academy
"Thanks to the great work of everyone involved with the MSA Academy, Team UK and the AASE programme, we now have a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience at our disposal," says Robert Reid, MSA Performance Director. "We now want to spread that knowledge much further and ensure that as many young drivers as possible are developing themselves and their careers in the right way.
"Thanks to the support of our friends at the Racing Steps Foundation, we have been able to develop a suite of materials that can really help young drivers at an early stage of their careers and roll that out more widely. These new Academy members will benefit from a number of development sessions during the year, as well as access to the MSA coaches as they require. We know from the feedback we receive just how valuable this kind of programme can be, so we are delighted to be able to expand our efforts in 2012."
The drivers selected for the MSA Academy are:
Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE)
The entire membership of the MSA Academy will be meeting together for the first time at the Porsche Performance Centre at Silverstone on 1 February 2012.
"We aim to integrate the three areas of the MSA Academy much more closely this year," confirms Reid. "The principles of talent development are now consistent throughout the Academy structure, so it makes sense to bring the various programmes together where possible. It will be good for the younger members to see that they are part of the same scheme as the guys at the top of tree; it's also good for the more experienced members to feel that there are people looking up to them and learning from them. I am sure that they will all benefit greatly from the increased interaction."