1 January 1901
WS: Hanley steps up full-time.
Ben Henley will be a permanent fixture in the World Series by Renault, having been confirmed as both a member of the Renault Driver Development scheme and the Cram Competition team.
The 21-year old Briton made his World Series debut while standing in for Eric Salignon at Cram in 2005, and, having impressed both in racing and testing with the team, has now signed to contest the forthcoming campaign.
Despite the distraction of stepping up to the more powerful World Series car, however, Hanley - a former karting star - finished second to Kamui Kobayashi in the Italian Formula Renault championship, taking nine podiums and six wins after dominating the second half of the season, belying the fact that it was his first full season racing cars.
That performance, allied to the promise he showed in his sporadic World Series outings has now led to Hanley being added to the roster of drivers covered by the RDD scheme, something the Briton admits is a big boost to his career.
"This is a good opportunity for me," he said, "Joining the RDD programme will be a valuable help in achieving my goal of becoming a professional driver. It's a very challenging programme and the training, the organisation and the staff are all extremely helpful.
Having had a little World Series experience prior to 2006 has convinced Hanley that he can be a factor in this year's championship chase.
"My first real tests in the World Series car this winter convinced me that I can adapt to the championship very quickly," he said, "The two cars are very different in terms of performance - the WSR car has carbon brakes, an extra 220bhp, more grip, advanced aerodynamics and so forth - but they feel quite similar. The most difficult thing to get to grip with is the stopping power of the carbon brakes.
"Obviously, I race to win, so winning the championship is my aim. However, since this will only be my second year in cars - and in a new championship too - it is going to be a very challenging year, racing against drivers with much more experience then I have. Realistically, though, I am looking to be in the top three."
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