Formula Kart Stars announced a new scholarship scheme with the Hillspeed team recently which will offer FKS drivers a chance to drive in either the Ginetta Junior or the Formula Renault BARC championship.

Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw confirmed the deal at this month's Autosport International Show at Birmingham's NEC.

"It is clearly apparent that FKS is a vital proving ground and stepping stone for aspiring karters," he said. "We want to become involved and offer them the chance to sample entry-level car racing within the professional environment that Hillspeed provides."

12 drivers will be nominated over the course of the FKS season and will compete in a shootout organised by Hillspeed.

The choice of venue has yet to be decided and the winner will have the entry fee paid courtesy of Hillspeed for either Ginetta Junior or Formula Renault BARC.

Ginetta has had a close relationship with Formula Kart Stars in the past. The Will Hoy scholarship from 2004-2008 paid for a season of Ginetta driving. The manufacturer also recently sponsored the annual celebrity kart race at Autosport International and it offers tests in Ginetta G40s for the champions in Junior Max, Junior TKM and KF3 classes in the Super One championship. It also supports the MSA British Superkart Championship.

Hillspeed has acted as a school for Formula Kart Stars drivers. It has signed Nathan Harrison for the 2012 season in Ginetta Juniors and in 2010, Alice Powell won the championship with the team. Mini Max champion Tom Ingram was another champion in Ginetta Juniors in 2010.

Championship director Carolynn Hoy said: "Hillspeed are in a unique position in that they can offer our drivers two different routes into the world of car racing through either the single seater or closed cockpit environment.

"Their work with drivers like Tom [Ingram] and Alice [Powell] proves that they believe in giving young drivers their first big opportunity and that is one of the core aims of Formula Kart Stars as well. I know that whoever is eventually selected for the prize will be in the best environment possible with Hillspeed."

Hillspeed is following the trend of teams supporting karting talent. McLaren was crucial for Formula Kart Stars patron Lewis Hamilton's career. Last year, Marussia (formerly Virgin) F1 announced a young driver development programme and offered a test in Formula Renault for the top three finishers and a driver displaying exceptional ability in the new Formula KGP class.

by Simon Stiel